White Water Below The Bridge
One of the biggest draws on Bridge Day, besides the bridge, is the river below. The New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world. And it's home to some famous white water.
Tons of people come to Bridge Day to see it from a raft. It's one of the more interesting aspects of the festival. Yes, you can walk out on the big bridge, but how many huge festivals can you arrive at via whitewater raft?
Here are the rapids that you can see from the bridge:
Looking east, which is the direction the jumpers go off, the rapid almost immediately below the bridge is Fayette Station rapid. That's the busy one.
Fayette Station is a well known piece of whitewater. It's one of the only rapids in the gorge with road access. When the water gets high, Fayette Station starts raging- it's a full fledged class IV rapid with 10 and 12 foot waves.
Usually, Bridge Day sees lower water levels, which thankfully means that the rapid is not a factor for jumpers. Just below the Fayette Station Rapid is the under-the-bridge area, with a nice big recovery pool for jumpers that don't quite make it to the Landing Zone.
Farther upstream is another famous rapid called Thread The Needle. During Bridge Day, Thread The Needle looks less like a rapid and more like a couple of giant boulders out in the middle of the river. Thread the Needle is a class II-III rapid, depending on the water level.
The last rapid you can see upstream is Miller's Folly. It's the longest rapid in the New River Gorge, and one of the best. Miller's was also called Undercut Rock for the enormous boulder set against the bank at the top of the rapid. When the water is high, Miller's Folly is a giant whitewater rollercoaster.
The rapid that's immediately downstream of the bridge (as in, almost directly underneath it) is called Flea Flicker. At high water, there are a couple of ways that fold up in the middle that can send rafters flying. At Bridge Day levels, it's pretty tame, though there is one spot near the bank where you might see a raft get stuck for a long, long time.
Finally, the last rapid you can see from the bridge on the downstream side is called Ol' Nasty. This one gets it's name from being so close to the takeout- if the water is high enough for the huge rock in the center to become a huge wave, there's a chance rafters might miss their ride back to base camp.