Bridge jumping, rappelling draw thrill seekers to this October festival

Bridge Day takes place the third Saturday in October, and it’s one of the biggest extreme sports events in the world
New River Gorge Bridge.

Credit: Jeff Swensen

Credit: Jeff Swensen

New River Gorge Bridge.

Remember when your mother used to ask, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?”

If your answer was, “Yes,” then West Virginia has a festival for you.

Bridge Day takes place the third Saturday in October, in Fayetteville, and it’s one of the biggest extreme sports events in the world, according to the event’s website.

The “bridge” in the moniker is the New River Gorge Bridge, which spans the gorge nearly 900 feet above the water.

And for one day each year, thousands of pedestrians will trek across it; hundreds of participants will repel from its catwalk; and just as many will hurl themselves off it into the gorge below, equipped with a parachute or safety rigging, of course.

An annual event features jumpers parachuting 876 feet from the New River Gorge Bridge, the longest steel arch span in the Western Hemisphere, to the water at the bottom of the scenic canyon in West Virginia. MUST CREDIT: Bridge Day

Credit: Bridge Day

icon to expand image

Credit: Bridge Day

BASE jumping

BASE stands for building, antenna, span and Earth, the primary “exit points” from which BASE jumpers leap.

Bridges are included in span, and the New River Gorge bridge definitely spans the area. It is 3,030 feet long, 876 feet high and 70 feet wide.

According to the website, more than 400 BASE jumpers will attend, coming from nearly every state and from countries as far away as China. Thousands of spectators can watch a BASE jumper launch themselves from the structure every 30 seconds.

Although participants have to have made 50 jumps to participate in the festival, those leaping from this bridge for the first time are required to take a training course beforehand.

A jump pass will cost $75, but you’ll get a T-shirt and “some super secret stuff” not revealed on the website.

To register as a BASE jumper and for more information, visit

For a true adrenaline rush, try a catwalk on the New River Gorge Bridge. 
Courtesy of Adventures on the Gorge.

Credit: Handout

icon to expand image

Credit: Handout

Rappelling and high line

For those who prefer a little more control of their descent from the bridge, rappelling and zip lining might be more your style.

Several teams will be allowed to ascend and/or descend on a fixed rope from the catwalk under the bridge. This isn’t for first-time rappellers though.

Each participant must have proper rack training and have completed at least a 250 foot rappel.

Each team must have all the necessary rappelling equipment. For more information about Bridge Day Rappel, visit the Bridge Day Rappel site at

A lack of experience won’t necessarily keep you from descending from the bridge however. On Bridge Day, you can zip line 700 feet down from the catwalk to the road below. The spots can fill up quickly, so it’s best to reserve one soon.

For more information about Bridge Day High Line, visit the Bridge Day Rappel site.


For those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground — or bridge, in this case — the third Saturday in October is the only time each year you can walk across the bridge.

The bridge provides amazing views not only of the jumpers, but also of the gorge and river.

Coolers aren’t allowed, but more than 160 vendors will be on hand selling food and beverages. You can also pick up souvenirs.

Bridge Day

When: Saturday, October 21

Where: Fayetteville, West Virginia

Phone: 800-927-0263