Would you brave the New River Gorge bridge walk in West Virginia? Walk the catwalk under the New River Gorge Bridge for an exciting way to experience New River Gorge National Park. Are you up for the challenge? Yes? Keep reading for everything you need to know. Maybe? Keep reading so you can decide! No way? Keep reading and maybe I can change your mind!
New River Gorge Bridge Walk Basics
The New River Gorge Bridge is located in America’s newest national park. The New River Gorge National Park received national park designation in December 2020, making it the 63rd national park.
There are four visitor centers, but the Canyon Rim Visitor Center is the closet visitor center to where the bridge walk will take place.
- Address: 162 Visitor Center Road Lansing, WV 25862
- Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM
- Entrance Fee: Free
- Bridge walk requires a separate fee
You will not start your bridge walk tour at the visitor center. There is a separate building with a red roof where you will check in for your tour. Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Below is the address for the bridge walk check-in.
- Address: 57 Fayette Mine Rd. Lansing, WV 25862
Fun Facts about the New River Gorge Bridge
- Construction finished on the bridge October 22, 1977
- Longest single arch bridge in the western hemisphere
- 13th tallest bridge in the world
- Bridge day occurs every year on the third weekend in October
Do I need a reservation?
Yes, there are multiple guided tours each day, but I recommend making your reservation ahead of time, especially for a large group. We did the bridge walk on a Monday and were able to get one of the last spots for the 11 AM tour time just a few days before. However, if you are making a special trip to New River Gorge National Park to complete the bridge walk, I would recommend making your reservation much further in advance.
The tour group is relatively small and there were 11 people in our group. This allowed everyone to be able to stay together and always hear our tour guide.
Tour reservations can be made here. If the online availability states to call I recommend doing so. We were added to a group by calling and booking on the phone.
What is the cost of the New River Gorge bridge walk?
The bridge walk costs $75 per person plus tax. Tour guides appreciate tips, although not required. This unique experience was well worth the fee to me personally!
How long does the bridge walk take?
The website estimated between 2-3 hours for the tour. You will not be on the catwalk for this entire duration. Our total time was around 2 hours including the time spent getting in our safety harness and riding the shuttle to and from the start and end of the bridge.
Our tour guide also stated the time spent on the bridge could be slowed down a bit or sped up depending on what the members of the group would like or how many questions are asked. Your tour guide will stop between 4-6 times as you make your way across the bridge to take your picture, allow you to sit on the bridge at a designated time only, provide information about the area, and answer any questions.
Can my entire family participate in the bridge walk?
Anyone 8 years of age and older can participate in the bridge walk. You also must be at least 48 inches tall. Good balance and hand eye coordination are recommended. This is not an ideal activity for anyone unsteady on their feet or anyone afraid of heights.
Is the New River Gorge bridge walk safe?
The catwalk is 2 feet wide and 0.5 miles long. They ensure your safety by having everyone wear a harness and attach it to a line on the catwalk. I felt comfortable throughout the entire tour, although if you are afraid of heights this may not be an adventure for you. At the middle of the bridge, you are 851 feet above the ground. You will have to sign a liability waiver and disclose any relevant medical conditions prior to the tour.
You can hear cars driving over the bridge as well as feel some vibration from the bridge moving. The overall vibration was less than I was expecting. It is actually safe for the bridge to vibrate. It helps ensure the bridge doesn’t become too stiff and cause stress fractures. Our tour guide said the bridge goes through inspection 1-2 times annually.
How physically demanding is the bridge walk?
The total walk is about 1.5 miles, and it is completed at a leisurely pace. That’s not to say your heart won’t be pumping. When I first started the bridge walk my heart rate clocked in at 127 bpm according to my watch. After I spent more time on the bridge and got more comfortable my heart rate returned to normal.
The catwalk is 0.5 miles and all flat. You will walk from the parking lot down an incline to the beginning of the catwalk and up a hill on “Rebecca’s Path” to catch the shuttle back to your car. The tour guide will stop at multiple spots throughout the actual bridge walk to provide information and answer any questions. The entire experience took approximately 2 hours.
What time of year should I do the bridge walk?
The bridge walk is offered year-round, but conditions will vary. Fall would be an ideal time to book a bridge walk tour to see the fall foliage below. We completed the tour in summer and the conditions were great! I’d recommend spring through fall and I wouldn’t personally want to book a tour during the winter.
Tours are offered daily between 9 AM and 5 PM. Tours can be booked online, and times may vary based on the time of year. Anywhere from 2 to 5 time slots are available each day.
What should I bring with me?
Not much! You want to ensure all loose items are secured. Bags are not permitted on the bridge walk, and you can choose to leave your car keys locked in the office if you are concerned about them falling out of your pocket.
I highly recommend bringing a phone holder. If you do not have one, they sell them for $5 at the shop. These can be worn around your neck to prevent phones from being dropped from over 800 feet in the air. I purchased one before our tour and it worked great.
I recommend wearing comfortable clothes and plan for temperatures under the bridge to be a little cooler due to the shade and wind if present. Closed toed shoes are required! You may also want to wear a croakie to secure your glasses. Sunglasses are not needed as there will be plenty of shade while you are underneath the bridge.
Final Thoughts on the New River Gorge Bridge Walk
This was my third time visiting New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia. The bridge walk was one of the more unique experiences I’ve had in a national park to date! Again, if you are afraid of heights this may not be the right fit, but if heights don’t bother you, I’d highly recommend booking a tour while you visit New River Gorge National Park.
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The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to complete the Bridge Walk, I recommend verifying the most current information with the New River Gorge National Park website and Bridge Walk website.