Many of the most famous bridges in the U.S., from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Golden Gate, have been featured in movies and are familiar to even children. America’s highest bridges, however, are mostly unknown, towering over remote canyons in anonymity. Chances are you have driven across one or more of these bridges without even realizing it. How many of the following bridges have you heard of and/or visited? (The height listed in parentheses is the bridge deck’s highest point above land or water.)
10. Moyie River Canyon Bridge (464 Feet)
Really, how many people could even place the Moyie River on a map (Idaho residents, put your hands down.) This steel truss cantilever bridge on U.S. 2 in the tip of Idaho’s panhandle opened in 1965.
9. Navajo Bridge (470 Feet)
The twin spans of this bridge cross the Colorado River in Northern Arizona. The newer span, built in 1995, carries U.S. Route 89A, while the original 1929 bridge — which is 3 feet shorter — is open only to pedestrians.
8. Perrine Bridge (486 Feet)
Folks in Twins Falls, Idaho, love their bridge. It’s celebrated on postcards and with an annual festival. Thrill seekers love it because it’s the rare structure in the U.S. open to BASE jumpers without a permit. It opened in 1976, a couple of years after daredevil Evel Knievel’s ill-fated attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon a short distance away.
7. Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (565 Feet)
This 52-year-old bridge’s rugged setting has landed it a role in several movies, including Natural Born Killers and Terminator Salvation. It’s only about 10 miles north of the historic town of Taos, New Mexico.
5. (Tie) Glade Creek Bridge (700 Feet)
It’s surprising that the highest bridge on the U.S. interstate system is not in Colorado, or another Rocky Mountains state, but in West Virginia. Opened in 1988 near Beckley, the Glade Creek Bridge (aka the Phil G. McDonald Memorial Bridge) carries I-64. It is the highest truss bridge in the world.
5. (Tie) Glen Canyon Dam Bridge (700 Feet)
The highest arch bridge in the world when it opened in 1959, the bridge owes its existence to the Glen Canyon Dam less than 300 yards away; it was built to help bring construction materials to the dam site in Northern Arizona. It still plays a vital role carrying U.S. 89 across the Colorado River.
4. Foresthill Bridge (730 Feet)
The world’s highest cantilever bridge, the Foresthill Bridge spans the North Fork of the American River in California’s Sierra Nevadas. As it turns out, the bridge proved to be unnecessary; it was built in the early 1970s to facilitate construction of a massive 680-foot-tall dam that was never built.
3. New River Gorge Bridge (876 Feet)
When it opened in 1977 this became the world’s single-span arch bridge; it’s still the fourth-longest span. The bridge in Fayetteville, W.Va., helped turn U.S. 19 into a popular route for travelers between the Southeastern U.S. and the Great Lakes region. If you’re into unusual festivals, the town of Fayetteville hosts an annual Bridge Day the third Saturday in October. Around 100,000 people turn out for the festival each year to walk the bridge, watch BASE jumpers and check out local artisans. If you’re not afraid of heights, the bridge also offers daily tours on a catwalk, although reservations are required and they are a bit pricey (about $75 per person).
2. Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (900 Feet)
This relatively new bridge — it opened in 2010 — allowed U.S. 93 to bypass the twisting and congested route it had long followed across the Hoover Dam. It is the highest concrete arch bridge in the world.
1. Royal Gorge Bridge (955 Feet)
To put this bridge into perspective, consider that it’s more than four times higher than the Golden Gate Bridge (220 feet). Unlike the other bridges on this list, the Royal Gorge Bridge, built in 1929, serves solely as a tourist attraction. Tickets are around $25 person for the amusement park, but once you walk out onto the bridge and peer over the railing at the Arkansas River far, far below, you’ll consider it money worth spent. It’s located near Canon City, Colo., about 100 miles south of Denver.