Situated at the southern end of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is one of the seven natural wonders of the modern world, Virginia’s Natural Bridge. Located in the town of Natural Bridge, close to Lexington, the bridge is a National Historic Landmark that has drawn visitors from all over the world for nearly two centuries. It is an awe inspiring naturally formed arch that towers above Cedar Creek; solid rock, nearly twenty stories high, sculpted by millennia of powerful natural forces including the once rushing waters of the creek that flows beneath it. It is believed that the arch is the remains of a cavern or tunnel through which Cedar Creek once flowed.
Legends about the bridge, both ancient and recent, abound. The Monacan Indians worshiped the bridge, believing that it appeared at a critical moment when their ancestors needed a way to escape from pursuing enemies. Legend also claims that George Washington surveyed the area and carved his initials on the wall of the arch and on a stone that he allegedly threw over the arch. A stone and a place on the arch wall do have the initials G.W. clearly marked.
Legends aside, there was definitely a connection to our nation’s founders. Thomas Jefferson purchased the area before the Revolution and had a two-room log cabin built as a retreat, which was enjoyed by many famous early Americans including James Monroe, Henry Clay, John Marshall, Sam Houston, and Martin Van Buren. Modern visitors, however, needn’t wait for an invitation to Jefferson’s cabin; many accommodations are available within just a short drive of Natural Bridge, including hotels, B&B’s, and Virginia cabins, both rustic and modern.
The Natural Bridge attraction is not limited to the bridge alone. The nearby Natural Bridge Caverns provides the opportunity to experience the spectacular cavern located 34 stories beneath the Earth. The self-guided walking tour takes about one hour and is well worth the time.
Cedar Creek trail offers the opportunity to stretch your legs for a mile long hike to Lace falls, and to see the 1500 year old Arborvitae tree which sprouted at about the time that Europe entered the Dark Ages.
The Native American Village Complex, depicting the life of the Monacan Indians in the 1700s is an interesting and educational trip back into time.
A special treat for all family members is a visit to the Toy Museum where over 45,000 different toys are on display; toys enjoyed by children over the last 300 years. The Natural Bridge Wax Museum also provides a history of the Natural Bridge along with over 150 life-like figures of early American and Civil War historical figures.
Be sure to include a visit to the Natural Bridge area attractions. It will be an exciting and memorable visit offering adventure, education, and the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, the Monacan Indians, and soldiers from both the Union and Confederate Armies as you share their enjoyment of Virginia’s natural wonder.