I recently had the privilege of spending a few days in the New River Gorge National Park and it was the first time I played tourist there since it achieved national park status. Prior to this visit, we mostly stopped at the visitor’s center because it was a good place for a bathroom break and to stretch our legs on our way to some other destination. Finally, it became the destination itself.
One of my favorite parts of the experience was driving down the old road into the gorge and walking across the old bridge. It’s a one-way, narrow, curvy road with multiple spots to pull over for scenic views and informative signs. I didn’t actually read the signs but I’m sure they were full of valuable tidbits of information.
When the new bridge was completed in 1977, the drive across the gorge was reduced from three quarters of an hour to less than a minute. I’ve never given much thought to that fact before but it has saved us a lot of time on our many trips south.
The New River Gorge Bridge is the third highest in the United States and the longest steel span bridge in the Western Hemisphere. Up until 2003, it was the longest steel arch bridge in the world!
Being just a few steps beyond normal, I like walking across bridges and have collected quite a few big ones in my travels. The old bridge across the New River was a peaceful stroll with great views of the new bridge and the rapids. Just past the old bridge was a parking area with access to the river itself. I enjoyed dipping my toes in the water. I’ve done raft, canoe, and kayak trips on different parts of the New River but this was my first time at this particular spot. I’m hoping to visit again someday!