New River Gorge Bridge

The New River Gorge Bridge is a half hour drive from Beckley and is spliced by the New River in West Virginia. In West Virginia history, before the New River Gorge Bridge was built, locals and visitors had to take a long and winding forty minute detour up and down mountain roads just to get to the other side. Though the gorge was breathtaking, it posed many tireless problems for efficient transportation. New River Bridge West Virginia developers sparked construction of the bridge in 1974 and saw it through to completion by 1977. The New River Gorge Bridge is now the longest steel bridge with a single, sweeping arch. It skyrockets almost 900 feet above the cool, frothy waters of New River. The magnificent creation is also designated as America's second tallest.

When builders started looking at the possibility of building a bridge across the New River to shorten travel time, they realized that the sturdy rock on either side of the gorge would be able to take the weight and pull of the massive arch. This way erecting piers and extremely tall towers was completely avoided. Temporary towers were the first part of New River Gorge Bridge West Virginia construction teams built on both sides of the gorge in 1974. Trolleys were used to string together large steel components that would comprise the bridge's sensational arch. Three years and 37 million dollars later, the New River Gorge Bridge was finished, forever eliminating the 45-minute drive around the gorge, lessening it to one minute.

The New River Gorge Bridge Festival, or Bridge Day as it's known by locals, first kicked off in 1980, commemorating the fruition of the bridge. This is one of the biggest annual events held at the New River on the third Saturday each October. Never will you see as many people congregate on the bridge as they do during the New River Gorge Bridge Festival. Each year around 200,000 people get together throughout the day to celebrate the festival.

One of the top highlights of the New River Gorge Bridge Festival are the Base jumpers, who leap almost 900 feet off the New River Gorge Bridge and parachute into the gorge below creating a spectacular sight. Visitors come from Canaan Valley, Snowshoe, Charleston and other West Virginia towns to take part in the day-long festivities. Two hundred New River Bridge West Virginia vendors set up all around and sell delicious eats during the festival while rapellers cascade on thick ropes underneath the colossal bridge.

There are many fun things to do in New River aside from the New River Gorge Bridge Festival. Like many parts of West Virginia, New River is well known for outdoor recreation where the nature serves as a playground for all. Here in West Virginia rafting, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, skiing and rock climbing are all adventurous feats possible for all ages. Visitors can stay right in New River or nearby in one of the excellent Beckley hotels. There are plenty of West Virginia campgrounds around New River and numerous cabins for those who prefer staying indoors.

There are plenty of wonderful restaurants in the area including bar and grills, upscale eateries, lounges and casual bars. There are also many galleries, museums and historic sites in the area. Nearby West Virginia bed and breakfasts offer a cozy alternative to hotels while those who enjoy nightlife can visit some of the clubs and art performances in the region. Both autumn and summer are best for myriad live performances. Though New River doesn't seem to stand out as a unique destination, it's a really fun and charming area to stay awhile and enjoy all the area affords.

Top image: bobistraveling (flickr)
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