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Extreme sports base jumping New River Gorge Bridge West Virginia
Photograph: Shutterstock

This is the only day of the year that you can BASE jump in a national park

Ever wanted to jump off the New River Gorge Bridge? This is your chance.

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman

BASE jumping is, perhaps, the ultimate adrenaline sport. You jump off a very tall point – BASE stands for buildings, antennas, spans and earth from which you jump – with the hope that your parachute will open and usher you to a gentle touchdown.

Historically, some of the most popular BASE jumping points have also been the most scenic. Yosemite’s enormous granite cliff El Capitan is where some of the very first BASE jumping transpired and The New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia has seen plenty of jumps. But here's where things get interesting: Since the New River Gorge was established as a national park in 2020, you can now experience the first-ever legal BASE jump in a national park, as reported by Thrillist.

Since 1980, the bridge has hosted Bridge Day, where, each year, 100,000 people come to see participants fling themselves off the bridge on the third Saturday of October. This year, that’s October 15.

There’s a six-hour window to accomplish this feat on Bridge Day, when traffic is rerouted off the bridge for ten hours and rescue boats will be waiting in the churning white water below. But you’ll need a National Park Service permit, and there are three options: jumping solo (if you already have 50 skydives on your resume), or going tandem, or being flung by a catapult (called the human rastapult). Sign up by October 7 to be part of the jumpy fun.

Th bridge dates to 1977 and stands 876 feet above the river below; it’s the third highest bridge in the US and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Seems like a grand place to launch from.

If you don’t dare to do this crazy madness, you can still rappel down from the bridge, run a 5k, take a guided walk on a catwalk under it, listen to historic interpreters, hike a nine-mile trail to the bottom, raft the white water below or just... spectate.

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Here's our list of 11 extreme adventure vacations

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