Visiting Virginia's Natural Bridge State Park
The Natural Bridge in Virginia is truly spectacular! You don't even have to be religious to get the feeling of the supernatural.
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and within the Washington & Jefferson National Forest, Natural Bridge is an easy 3 hour drive from the DC Metro. As you near the Lexington area, the views of the mountains are absolutely beautiful!
We visited Natural Bridge in 2015 on a detour to the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, VA. (You can see my post about the Homestead Here). It only added an hour onto our drive and was totally worth it! We have been back to Lexington, VA twice since and are talking about returning to see the Natural Bridge again this summer to see it's beauty in a different season.
Cedar Creek Trail
The trail begins with more than 100 stairs descending alongside a beautiful cascading Falls. This area has a tranquil and peaceful feeling and there are several small landings to stop and enjoy your surroundings. If that is too many stairs for you, don't worry - there is a tram you can take.
There are over 6 miles of hiking trails, so you really could make a day out of your visit. You can view a map of the trails Here.
The Natural Bridge
Continue on the trail. As you round the bend, prepare to be stopped in your tracks as you catch sight of the bridge - it's so magnificent it will take your breath away!
Rising 215 feet above ground and spanning 90 feet wide, it's no wonder the limestone arch is known as one of the true natural wonders of the world!
These pictures can't capture the magnitude - look for Sean in turquoise to get an idea of how gigantic the bridge is. It is awe-inspiring!
When passing under the bridge, be sure to look to the left to find George Washington's initials carved 25 feet up the side. George Washington was the original surveyor of the land. The King of England later sold it to Thomas Jefferson in 1774.
We visited on an unseasonably warm day in November and it was not busy at all. However, in better weather it can get crowded. Once you get your photo, continue along the 1 mile Cedar Creek Trail to the Monacan Indian Living History Exhibit and Lace Falls waterfall.
Along the way, you'll also see an old saltpeter mine used during the War of 1812 and the Civil War to collect raw materials for gunpowder production and the Lost River, an underground channel of water that spills into Cedar Creek.
Monacan Indian Living History Exhibit
The exhibit highlighting life in the Monacan Indian nation offers a great place to discover history. Visitors learn about pottery, cooking, basket weaving, making tools, gardening and more. The life-size replica village intrigued our curiosity.
Continue down the trail. At the end, you will come to an observation deck to view the 30 foot Lace Falls waterfall.
Drama of Creation
Most nights at dusk, Natural Bridge comes to life with an illuminating sound and light show called the Drama of Creation. The illumination is a tradition since 1927 when President Calvin Coolidge first pressed the button that illuminated the bridge. The current presentation stays true to its original form with a dramatic narration of the Seven Days of Creation, based on the Book of Genesis. Admission to the light show is free, however, donations are encouraged.
Above Photo courtesy of Natural Bridge
Tips for Visiting Natural Bridge
During the summer months, consider visiting in the morning when temperatures are a little cooler.
Wear sturdy shoes! There are more than 100 steps down to the Bridge and trail.
If you don’t want to take the stairs, take the free tram.
The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pricing to see the Bridge is $6 for kids (age 6‐12) and $8 for adults (age 13 & up)
Admission to the Drama of Creation is FREE.
Caverns at Natural Bridge
We also visited the Caverns at Natural Bridge. Although less impressive in scale than some of the other commercial caverns in the Shenandoah Valley, it is certainly spectacular to descend down 34 stories into the earth! There is also a really cool pool of water, called mirror lake, in the cavern. There are a lot of steep stairs, so be prepared with sturdy shoes since it can get slippery in those caves! On such a unseasonably balmy day, it was nice to cool off in the caverns. Granted, it was not a busy time of year, but what made these caverns special was that they felt less commercial and more intimate. We had a really great tour guide and thoroughly enjoyed our visit! Tickets can be purchased at Rockbridge Center for $18 per adult and $12 for kids ages 6-12; kids under 6 are free. However, when you buy your tickets to see the Natural Bridge, purchase the discounted "bundled" ticket for just $20 for adults and $14 for kids ages 6-12 to see BOTH the Bridge and Caverns.
Above Photo Courtesy of the Natural Bridge
There is so much else to see and do in the Lexington area. We combined our trip to see the Natural Bridge with a visit to the Virginia Safari Park, which I'll be sharing with you later this week.
Have you been to the Natural Bridge? What was your favorite part about it? What other attractions have you visited in the area?