Located in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Natural Bridge is one of the most iconic attractions in the state. Visitors can enjoy the more than 7 miles of hiking trails, explore the caverns and learn about the Native Americans who once lived on the land. If you are planning a trip to see the Natural Bridge in Virginia, here is what you need to know.
History of Virginia’s Natural Bridge
This Natural Bridge in Virginia was created from an incomplete roof collapse of an underground river tunnel.
The 215-foot limestone arch spans 90 feet and was once part of the 157-acre property owned by King George before being purchased from Thomas Jefferson in 1774.
Legend also has it that George Washington came to the site in 1750 to survey the area, and left the initials “G.W.” on the wall of the bridge. In 1927, a large stone was found, also engraved “G.W.” and bearing a surveyor’s cross, which historians accepted as proof that he indeed did survey the bridge.
The bridge drew many people to this part of Virginia in the late 18th & early 19th centuries, and was featured in many paintings and even was referenced in the classic Moby Dick:
“But soon the fore part of him slowly rose from the water; for an instant his whole marbleized body formed a high arch, like Virginia’s Natural Bridge…”Herman Melville
Since 1971 it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and since 2016 the bridge and its surroundings have been managed by the Commonwealth of Virginia as Natural Bridge State Park.
Visiting the Natural Bridge in Virginia
The Natural Bridge State Park is more than just the bridge. This is a popular outdoor recreation destination that draws people to see the bridge, but also features seven miles of hiking trails, a waterfall and exhibits that teach about the history of the area.
Your trip to the state park will start at the Visitor Center which will be where you will purchase your tickets and give you the chance to use the restroom before heading down to the Cedar Creek Trail.
For those wishing to only see the Natural Bridge, you will be glad to know that it is the first thing you will encounter.
You will find a paved walking path and plenty of places to sit & enjoy the beauty of the natural formation.
If you choose, you can take the Cedar Creek Trail that goes under the Natural Bridge to the Monacan Village and Lace Falls.
The Natural Bridge was a sacred site of the Native American Monacan tribe and there is an exhibit open from April to November that features what like would have been like in a typical Monacan Indian settlement.
Learn about gardening, cooking, leathering, pottery making, basket weaving, and more.
The hike from the Cedar Creek Trail to Lace Falls is easy and worth the effort. The 20-foot waterfall is lovely, but the wildlife and flowers you see also make it a pleasant experience.
Hikers can also take the 2-mile Buck Hill Trail or the 3-mile Blue Ridge Trail for spectacular views of the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains.
Children’s Discovery Area
Those traveling to see the Natural Bridge with children will want to check out the Children’s Discovery Area.
The Kids in Parks Track Trail has a choice of four self-guided brochures that will direct families to discover different aspects of nature ( pollinators, birds, animals, and how nature can hide and seek).
Virginia Natural Bridge State Park Hours
Monday-Sunday 8 a.m. to dusk, weather permitting.
- The Trail Store is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk, weather permitting.
- The Visitor Center is open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- The Base Camp Discovery Center is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Labor Day.
Where to Stay Nearby Natural Bridge in Virginia
Natural Bridge Historic Hotel (SEE PRICES)
The Natural Bridge Historic Hotel sits directly across from the Natural Bridge Park which makes it a super convenient place to stay. Each guest room offers a flat-screen HDTV, mini-refrigerator, coffee maker, ironing amenities, and hairdryer. There is also a fitness facility, restaurant and tavern on the property. You can also bring your pet for an additional fee.
A trip to see the Natural Bridge in Virginia should be on everyone’s list of places to visit when you are in the part of the state. Just 15 minutes outside of Lexington, and less than an hour from both Lynchburg and Roanoke, Virginia it makes a great day trip!