Natural Bridge State Park, in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, is home to one of America's most amazing landmarks: a naturally formed, 215-foot-high, limestone arch. The area is also home to the Caverns at Natural Bridge, Monacan Indian Living History Village, and Lace Falls.
No one knows for certain how Natural Bridge was formed. The current theory is that it is a remnant of a naturally formed tunnel or cave that mostly collapsed. Whatever the cause, the arch left behind is unique, magnificent, and has long tickled human fascination.
Natural Bridge was sacred to the Monocan tribe of Native Americans and early European settlers were just as taken. A young George Washington is said to have carved his initials into an arch wall when he surveyed the area in 1750. Thomas Jefferson bought the area in 1774 from King George III and built a two-room cabin here.
While Natural Bridge is undeniably stunning and unique, it is not the only reason to visit the area. Historic Cedar Creek Trail passes directly under the arch on its way to Lace Falls. The easy, 2 mile (out and back) trail passes by Lost River, Saltpeter Cave, and is good for hikers of all skill-levels. Lace Falls' beautiful, multi-tiered, 50 foot cascade is well worth the walk.
With so much limestone around, one would think caves would be nearby, and there are. Caverns at Natural Bridge are less than half a mile up the road!
Caverns at Natural Bridge are the East Coast's deepest known caves, descending some 34 stories into the Earth. Guided tours reveal the caverns' many secrets, including the Colossal Dome room, Canyon Room, Well Room, underground Mirror Lake, and endless formations. The temperature inside the caverns stays a cool 54 degrees, so you'll want layers if you go, even in the height of summer!
Another amazing part of Natural Bridge State Park is the Monacan Indian Living History Village. You'll journey back some 300 years when you visit the one-of-a-kind replica of a Monacan Indian Village. The Monacan were once one of the area's most powerful tribes. Now you can relive their day-to-day life and learn about tool, bowl, and basket making, mat and rope weaving, hide tanning, and much more.
Natural Bridge State Park Virginia
15 Appledore Ln, Natural Bridge, VA 24578
Located just off I-81, at exits 180 & 175; and off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Learn more at www.dcr.virginia.gov.
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