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Jumping Off Bridge an Annual Tradition in New River Gorge

New River Gorge Bridge Day BASE Jumper; 'goldmember' photo via Flickr

New River Gorge Bridge Day BASE Jumper; photo via Flickr

What's the largest single day festival event in West Virginia? Bridge Day! Annually, on the third weekend of October, thousands of spectators watch over the course of the day as hundreds of BASE jumpers leap from the top of New River Gorge Bridge with the hope their parachute takes them safely to the river's shore, 876 feet below. The bridge spans the New River Gorge National River, managed by the National Park Service.

This year, more than 155,000 people came to watch a record number 876 jumps from the bridge. I can't imagine I'd ever choose to jump off a perfectly good bridge, but there are plenty of people who do, like this guy, Jason McClure who is quoted in the Register Herald

You just block everything else out and focus on what you need to do. ...You gather your thoughts, step off — and it’s quiet, except for the wind rushing beside you. You just enjoy the ride, then deploy your chute.

He would probably be the type of guy wearing the T-Shirt on sale at, which reads "Your Worse Fear Is My Favorite Sport". You can read more about the event here, here, and what the park says about it here. Or, check out this 4 min video from YouTube of the 2006 event -


Unfortunately, not all jumps go as planned. Last year a BASE jumper died when his chute didn't open until he was only about 25 feet above the river.

Just curious Jeremy.....ever considered jumping out of a perfectly good airplane from between 5-10,000'? Most people classify us as certified loonies for that manuever as well, but BOY does that get the epinephrine circulating! From my perspective, at an altitude of only 876' you don't quite enough time to enjoy the surroundings before splashdown. Which brings me to the part I really don't understand....parachuting into that gorge? That's not exactly minimizing your risk/reward factors, which is supposed to be the top priority of any jumper when planning and executing these types of endeavors. Updrafts and swirling wind currents, trees, water; too dangerous for me. Must be a similar experience to the champagne-laced and tuxedoed goofballs that bungee jump 1000' from Royal Gorge Bridge.

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