These daredevils parachute off a bridge— and you can watch!

It’s no wonder Bridge Day is the largest extreme sports event of its kind in the entire world. Who wouldn’t want to watch as hundreds of people hurl themselves nearly 900 feet off a bridge?

With parachutes, of course!

Bridge Day began in 1980 to commemorate the completion of the picturesque bridge over the New River Gorge. There were 5 BASE jumpers that year.  Now, every 3rd Saturday in October, at the peak of the vibrant fall foliage, hundreds come to leap. There are often more than 800 jumps.

But it’s more than just jumping. It is only day of the year visitors can walk across the bridge, and the vast majority (more than 80,000!) come to watch.

If you’re not in the small percentage of humans willing to take the plunge, here’s how you can enjoy this free event:

1. Cheer on these daredevils

You’d be surprised how much time can pass by while you’re watching jumper after jumper plummet toward the river below. Watch as experienced BASE jumpers dive, flip and stunt off a wooden platform atop the bridge. Many also opt to walk the plank, a 15-foot-long 4-inch-wide balance beam, or climb an antenna even higher before they leap.

(P.S., If you insist on the full Bridge Day experience but don’t have the prior jumps— or nerve— to do it alone, a limited number of tandem BASE jump spots are available.)

2. Watch the other high-flying stunts

Several rappel teams descend from the catwalk beneath the New River Gorge Bridge, and above, veteran skydivers will put on a show with smoke, flips and billowing flags. Other adventurers, like a pogo stunt team showing off wild tricks while bouncing more than 10 feet in the air, line the bridge to show off their skills.

3.  Get in on the action yourself

If BASE jumping isn’t your cup of tea, but you’re still looking for a dose of adrenaline, try the 700-foot High Line from the bridge to the gorge below.

4. Send your taste buds on an adventure

Stop into Smokey’s on the Gorge the evening before the action to sample a lot for a little. The Taste of Bridge Day showcases West Virginia’s finest food products from restaurants around the state. Smokey’s Steakhouse is an open-air venue perched on a ridge, offering unbelievable views of the gorge.

5. See the gorge for a different perspective

It’s hard to grasp just how massive the New River Gorge Bridge is until you are looking up at it from below. Into the Gorge shuttles run visitors to the riverbed below for $20 per person. From there, you can watch jumpers approach the landing zone about every 30 seconds.

6. Raft the New or Gauley Whitewater

Adventures on the Gorge has a variety of rafting trips for all levels of adventure seekers. Grab a paddle, and hop onto a boat with a seasoned guide to conquer whitewater rapids, all while taking in the gorgeous fall foliage enveloping the New River, where you can catch a glimpse of BASE jumpers along the way.  

Also nearby: one of the world’s top 10 whitewater rivers. Bridge Day weekend is a perfect chance to catch the Gauley on one of only a few fleeting  #gauleyseason days each year.

7. Peruse hundreds of vendors

To walk from one side of the bridge to the other is 3,030 feet! Funnel cakes, turkey legs and corn dogs eagerly await you along the way! There’s also an array of artisan vendors displaying their crafts and wares, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to search for that perfect souvenir. Along the way, snap photos to enter Active Southern WV’s scavenger hunt.

8. Warm up with a chili cook-off

Bridge Day can get a bit chilly. The solution? Chili! After the jumping concludes, let the chili consumption begin. The Bridge Day Chili and cornbread Cook-Off starts after the festival in downtown Fayetteville. Grab your tasting tickets to vote for the People’s Choice Award.

9. Jam to the best of bluegrass

Some of the biggest legends in bluegrass and roots music take the stage at the Bridge Jam concert later in the evening, with a lineup of the genre’s top acts.

How will you enjoy Bridge Day?

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This post was last updated on July 21, 2020