Towering above the beautiful West Virginia forests, the New River Gorge Bridge spans the New River Gorge 900 feet above the New River. Over 3,000 feet long, the striking architecture of the steel arch bridge draws visitors from near and far to see this Appalachia icon just north of Fayetteville, West Virginia.
The longest steel span in the Western Hemisphere, the bridge has become synonymous with the Appalachian region. The beauty and simplicity of its design create a visually stunning work of art that blends naturally with the surrounding mountains and forests.
The New River Gorge Bridge:
Design and Construction
Designed by the Michael Baker Company under Chief Engineer Clarence V. Knudsen and built by the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel, construction of the New River Gorge Bridge project started in 1974. Three years and over 30 million dollars later, the bridge opened in 1977.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication put into the design of the bridge, Knudsen and his team created not only a visually appealing piece of art but a practical travel solution that cuts travel time across the gorge from 45 minutes to virtually 45 seconds.
Back in the 1970s, members of the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel put their creative minds to the test while coming up with ways to keep construction costs close to budget. By selecting a type of steel that naturally rusts and creates a durable finish, the designers were able to build a bridge that blends in with the Appalachian landscape.
A Portal to the Natural Beauty of Appalachia
There is an assortment of plant and animal species all around the New River Gorge, including West Virginia’s state flower, Rhododendron maximum. More commonly referred to as Great Rhododendron or Great Laurel, this plant relies on the acidic soils of the New River Gorge.
Crossing the New River Gorge Bridge is an adventure in itself, and you just have to see it to understand how beautiful the views are. The bridge is over 800 feet tall with panoramic views of the vast wilderness all around. You might spot bald eagles, osprey, red tail hawks and turkey vultures among many more species along the way.
Whether you are planning a quick day trip to see this breathtaking marvel or planning to stay for a few days, the New River Gorge Bridge is a destination like no other. There are nearby hotels and lodges available within driving distance of the bridge, along with plenty of primitive camping sites for enjoying the mountains up close.
Stop by the Canyon Rim Visitor Center on your way in to learn all about what the New River Gorge Bridge has to offer. Here you can find an exhibit room and watch informational videos on both the bridge’s construction history. The center also offers topographic maps of the area and has a bookstore that offers a wide selection, from books about the local culture and environment to children’s books about the area.
The Rim Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. It is closed major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.
Canyon Rim Visitor Center address:
162 Visitor Center Road
Lansing, West Virginia 25862