It is the biggest weekend of the year in the Gorge, and the largest one-day festival in the state. Bridge Day, held annually on the third Saturday in October (the 19th this year), attracts more than 80,000 people to the area over a single weekend. And with this year being the festival’s 40th anniversary, it’s sure to be an even bigger thrill.
To make the most of your Bridge Day experience, we’ve asked the folks at Digital Relativity in Fayetteville — who not only assist with the festival but also live, work and play in the Gorge year-round — for some easy insider’s tips.
- Be prepared. This covers a lot of ground — read up on the rules so you know what you can and can’t take with you to Bridge Day, wear comfortable shoes and layers of clothing because the weather is unpredictable, and look at the event map beforehand to get the lay of the land.
- Park at a shuttle stop. There are six different stops — two on the north side and four on the south side of the bridge — where you can park your car, and for only $3 cash, you’ll get dropped off at the entrance of the festival and a ride back to your car. This saves a lot of time and walking.
- Don’t forget about all of the other Bridge Day activities. From Taste of Bridge Day on Friday to the Active SWV Bridge Day 5-K, Bridge Day Car Show, Bridge Day Chilli Cook-off & Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, Bridge Day is more than just what happens on the bridge itself. Take a look at the event schedule so as not to miss anything!
And if you can’t make it to Bridge Day but don’t want to miss out on all of the excitement? Watch the live stream and see all of the action from your computer or phone/mobile device.
The New River Gorge Bridge
The center of the action during Bridge Day weekend, the New River Gorge Bridge is the highlight of any trip to the Gorge. It has the longest steel arch in the Western hemisphere, and it measures 3,030 feet long and 876 feet high. Bridge Day is the only day out of the entire year where the structure is closed to traffic (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and open to pedestrians (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
Adventures on the Gorge (Taste of Bridge Day)
On the Friday before Bridge Day — October 18 — more than a dozen local chefs and caterers gather at Smokey’s Cast Iron Grille at Adventures on the Gorge (AOTG) for the annual Taste of Bridge Day. Samples are served as participants compete for the best appetizer, entree, dessert and people’s choice. Taste of Bridge Day also features music and local artwork. AOTG’s Rendezvous Lodge has bands on Friday and Saturday night as well.
Downtown Fayetteville (Bridge Day Chili Cook-off & Craft Beer Festival)
After the festival ends, the Bridge Day Chili Cook-off & Craft Beer Festival begins! The family-friendly event runs from 3–5:30 p.m. in downtown Fayetteville. Take in some live music and keep the kids entertained with activities while tasting chili made by vendors from around the region. Downtown Fayetteville also has a number of local shops and restaurants to explore.
Canyon Rim Visitors Center
Canyon Rim Visitors Center offers some of the best views of the bridge outside of the festival. There is a back deck (with a fully accessible ramp) and a boardwalk with two other observation decks below that the public can explore. The Visitors Center also has exhibits and videos on the area and plenty of useful information on lodging, dining and attractions.
New River Gorge Gateway Center (Bridge Day Car Show)
If you want to escape the festival crowds for a little while and like classic cars, visit the New River Gorge Gateway Center on Laurel Creek Road for the Bridge Day Car Show. Automobile owners will be showing off their wheels from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.