All About Rappelling in the New River Gorge

Let's go jump off a cliff! Harnessed to the top of it, of course. (Scared you for a moment, huh?) It's not exactly a jump, but you can slide over the edge and lower yourself tens or hundreds of feet into the Gorge. It's called rappelling, and it's as thrilling a drop as you make.

While the pinnacle of rappelling is off of the New River Gorge for Bridge Day, novices have lots of great opportunities to give rappelling a try and gain some experience.


If you've never been climbing or rappelling, no worries! Skilled guides know the best places to go, and you can get all the gear you need for a full or half-day trip with a guided tour. You can start out scaling the cliffs, or head straight for the descent.

If you're nervous, take comfort in the fact you are completely in control. Once you're over the cliff, the pressure you apply to the rope determines how quickly you move. It takes almost no force to stop yourself completely, and you'll have gloves to shield your hands from any rope burn.


If you've done some rappelling and you're comfortable on your own, you can grab some gear for your Gorge trip from Waterstone Outdoors. Their staff can gear you up with the fundamentals, show you the best tools to use, and help you track down nifty additional items. (Decorative sock monkey carabiner water bottle, anyone?)


For experienced rappellers and climbers, you might be ready to try the ultimate drop: lowering yourself from the top of the New River Gorge Bridge on Bridge Day. You have to be skilled and have completed a 250-foot rappel to apply, but if you're selected in the lottery to join a rappel team, it's the chance of a lifetime!

If you think you're ready, you can learn more about the process and preparation.

What rappel skill level are you on now, and where will you be in a year?