The Natural Bridge Hotel sits atop a hill and although a major geological wonder sits just steps away, you would never know it. After exiting the highway, the drive to Natural Bridge is unexpected. The landscape is typical for Virginia; rolling hills and trees arching over the roadway, but around every turn is another tourist attraction, or at least a sign for one. Ghost tours in Lexington, guided cavern tours, a flea market, two different small zoos, and rustic homes with confederate and Virginia flags on their front porches all great visitors before arriving at the Natural Bridge Hotel.
Once you pull into the hotel parking lot or that of the visitor center across the street, it is just a quick $20 ticket (expensive, but worth it) and a 137 step descent to Natural Bridge. Natural Bridge is a geological wonder.
Carved out by Cedar Creek, the entire thing is natural, untouched by nature, except for the roadway that literally passes right over the bridge. Although the site is in close proximity to the speeding motorcycles and cars above, once you finish your descent to the water, the sounds from the road become inaudible. Monarch butterflies float around and the sound of waterfalls is the backdrop to the spectacular view of Natural Bridge.
If it sounds like I am over-hyping Natural Bridge, keep in mind that I am not the first to marvel at this geological wonder. Thomas Jefferson was once the owner of Natural Bridge. He built a small home there and at one point even described Natural Bridge as, “the most sublime of Nature’s works”. George Washington was also a visitor at Natural Bridge and President Coolidge was a fan of the attraction. Others who have stayed at the Natural Bridge Hotel include John Marshall, James Monroe, Henry Clay, Sam Houston, and Martin Van Buren. More recently, the value of this natural wonder and historical landmark have become more well-recognized and the land was purchased by the Commonwealth of Virginia on May 12th, 2014. Natural Bridge was even included on several lists as one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” in the 19th Century.
After you finish taking in the view, there are hiking trails available for all levels of ability. Loops begin right next to Natural Bridge and range in difficulty. Other than the trails, Natural Bridge itself really is the only thing to do with your ticket. Guides are available to answer questions and tours begin at 11:00 am. Unfortunately, I was unable to take a tour or try one of the hikes, but that just means I will have to return for another visit.
The verdict: I would definitely recommend a trip to Natural Bridge if you are in the area. Not a ton to do, but completely worth it for a fun day trip.
Natural Bridge, http://www.naturalbridgeva.com/, (540) 291-2121 x 7801