Engineering challenges, admirable artistry, and magnificent settings make four unusual bridges destinations that are worth the drive.
Bixby Creek Bridge
Along a stretch of California’s Highway 1 famed for scenic distractions, there’s a riveting reason to focus on the road: Big Sur’s Bixby Creek Bridge. This 1932 marvel, designed to cross a problematic gap, took 300,000 board feet of timber and 45,000 sacks of cement to build. But statistics don’t convey the artistry of the bridge’s arch or the drama of the view from the northwest turnout, where you can photograph the graceful span. (831) 757-8085, mchsmuseum.com/bixbycr.html .
I.B. Perrine Memorial Bridge
People aren’t free to jump from most bridges, but the I.B. Perrine Memorial Bridge on the Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho, is an exception. The 1,500-foot span is a magnet for parachutists. Other visitors soak up waterfall views. (866) 894-6325, visitidaho.org/attraction/outdoor-recreation/perrine-bridge .
As beautiful as it is practical, the Sundial Bridge in Redding, Calif., creates the illusion of weightlessness. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the steel, glass, and granite span over the Sacramento River links the north and south halves of Turtle Bay Exploration Park. (800) 887-8532, turtlebay.org .
Captain William Moore Bridge
Travelers on the Klondike Highway north of Skagway, Alaska, often stop to admire the Captain William Moore Bridge, a dramatic cable-stayed span that looks like half of a normal suspension bridge as it stretches over a chasm below snowcapped Mount Carmack. (907) 983-1898, skagwaychamber.org .
Photography by Christian Heeb (Bixby Creek Bridge); Chad K/Wikipedia (Sundial Bridge); Daniel Mayer/Wikipedia (I.B. Perrine Memorial Bridge); Wknight94/Wikipedia (Captain William Moore Bridge)
This article was first published in January 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.