Brave The Catwalk On West Virginia's New River Gorge Bridge Tour

An impressive feat of American engineering and a stunning landmark of southern West Virginia, the New River Gorge Bridge blends practical infrastructure with structural art. While there's a few ways to view the steel arch bridge, a guided bridge walk offers visitors an up-close experience that reveals the New River Gorge Bridge's grandeur and architectural beauty. Of course, from 851 feet above the New River, you're also treated to incomparable views of the gorge below and surrounding landscape.

Located near Fayetteville, New River Gorge Bridge is about 58 miles southeast of Charleston, making it an easy day trip from West Virginia's capital. The bridge is the longest single-span steel bridge in the western hemisphere, and it's the third-highest steel bridge in the U.S.

After its completion in 1977, the bridge quickly became one of West Virginia's most popular landmarks. It's been featured on the state's commemorative quarters and remains as one of the most photographed places in the state.

While it's certainly something to behold, the massive structure is still a bridge, after all. If you're brave enough, walking across New River Gorge Bridge is an exhilarating, heart-pounding experience that rewards you with unbelievable views.

Take unbelievable landscape photos

To take a bridge walk, you'll need steel nerves comparable to the strength of the bridge's steel arches. Instead of actually walking across the bridge, a guided bridge walk involves walking across a narrow catwalk located underneath the bridge. The bad news is that the grated catwalk is only 24 inches wide. The good news is that the catwalk features substantial railings on each side. And to absolutely ensure the safety of brave bridge-walkers, you're also tethered to a safety harness, making it impossible to fall. That's also good news.

Once you're strapped in, you'll walk the entire 3,030 feet of the bridge at a leisurely pace. At 851 feet above the New River, a leisurely pace makes sense. That said, the entire bridge walk can take between two to three hours to complete, so participates will need to plan their schedules accordingly.

While walking across the New River Gorge Bridge, you'll learn interesting facts about the bridge and the New River Gorge National Park from your tour guide. Although the bridge walk is perhaps the best way to appreciate the bridge's beauty and size, it's not the only way.

Other unique ways to experience the bridge

If a bridge walk is a bit inconsistent with your attitude towards altitudes, then you may consider something a little more down to earth. There are a few hiking trails through the New River Gorge that offer awesome views of the bridge, including Long Point Trail and Bridge Trail.

For a splashier time, a whitewater rafting adventure down the New River is also an option, while the two vantage points from the Canyon Rim Visitor's Center provide great opportunities for photos. Other the hand, there's also an ideal option for those requiring a bit more adrenaline that a catwalk or photo opportunity can offer. Visit on Bridge Day.

Held on the third Saturday of October each year and commemorating the bridge's completion, Bridge Day is West Virginia's largest one-day festival. On this day, brave visitors can take a bridge walk, while fearless visitors enjoy the chance to zip line, rappel, and BASE jump from the New River Gorge Bridge.

While a number of participants from the general public can zip line, rappellers and BASE jumpers must be experience and selected to participate. And, of course, they'll also need to be brave.