Natural Bridge (Virginia)

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Lace Falls

The Natural Bridge in Virginia was a great stop on our road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s not far off Interstate 81 and has a mile long trail under the 215 foot natural stone arch, past the ‘lost river’, a native American village replica to some waterfalls. There are also tours of the nearby Natural Bridge Caverns.

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This area is a National Hiistoric Landmark. The 157 acre property was purchased by Thomas Jefferson from King George III for 20 shillings in 1774 and was a tourist attraction even back then. George Washington is said to have surveyed the area and carved his initials on the wall of the bridge.

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George Washington’s Initials?

When we visited this site in 2013, it was under private ownership. In 2016, ownership transferred to the state of Virginia and became Natural Bridge State Park. Also in 2016, the new state park was designated an affiliated area by the National Park Service which provides for federal funding.

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The Lost River – water source unknown

Location: 6477 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designation declared: 8/06/1998

Date of my visit: 8/16/2013DSC05789

11 thoughts on “Natural Bridge (Virginia)

  1. I really hope to get to Natural Bridges one day. My husband is less than thrilled because he says it’s too commercial and touristy. Is that true? One of these days, I’ll go anyway. I have a trip planned at the end of June to Niagara Falls; he has no interest in going because of the touristy aspect of it. So I’m going on my own. Sometimes there is a reason why things are touristy, but I do prefer the more natural places. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

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    1. When we were there (and I’ve actually stopped there on two separate road trips) there was a touristy aspect to it. The last time we went, admission was a little pricey and had to walk through a gift shop to get to the trail. Separate admission for a butterfly garden and a cave tour down the road. We did all those touristy things because we were travelling with my daughter and frankly, touristy is usually fun for kids.
      That said, the park was under private ownership at the time. I think they were struggling to turn a profit and maybe didn’t have the best interests of the site in mind. Now it’s a state park and I see in the news that they recently commissioned a study that recommends the road be moved (you actually drive ON the natural bridge to get to the visitors center)…so hopefully things are improving for the area. I wouldn’t go out of my way to stop here, but it is an excellent respite on a road trip along the hwy 81 corridor.
      I hear you with the hubbies…mine doesn’t really like historical homes and museums, so I usually go to those alone.

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      1. I have hope for the site since it has become a state park. I hope that will improve the experience. As I’ve never been there and I’ve been a Virginian most of my life, I do plan to go one of these days. It’s quite a drive for me from Northern Virginia, but, like you said, I could make a stop on my way to somewhere else. After our big road trip out west, I’ve become addicted to collecting stickers and stamps for my National Parks passport! Maybe I can find a National Historical Site to visit in that area. Sometimes, we simply have to forge our own paths, don’t we? 🙂

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    2. If you are keeping the NPS passport, you might enjoy the National Parks Travelers Club. I just found out about them from an article in last Sunday’s NY Times. Some of their members have been to all 417 sites! I don’t stamp, I collect pins, but I was pretty happy to find this group of like-minded NPS fans. https://www.parkstamps.org/

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  2. That’s funny! We’ve been there last year on our tour back from the one-week stay in Smokey Mountains. We had not that much water in the rivers like on your Pictures!
    Yes, it’s touristy, but not more than any other big National Park in the US that we visited till then. 🙂
    Maybe it helps when you are going in in the afternoon. Then there are less visitors at the place but maybe the native American village is going to Close soon.

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