Have any of you heard about Natural Bridge in Virginia? I know I hadn’t, which is a travesty, because it should have been on my travel bucket list! Because I was unaware of its existence, I wasn’t planning to visit Natural Bridge in Lexington, Virginia. However, when my well-traveled co-worker discovered I would be traveling on I-64, she insisted it was a must-see!
Marc (thrill seeker boyfriend) let me know his parents wanted us to join them on a vacation in Colonial Williamsburg and we immediately agreed—it seemed like an awesome trip (and it was!). On our 8-and-a-half-hour journey, we stopped at Virginia’s Natural Bridge. We weren’t sure what to expect. We’d never heard of this place before … and I was hoping it wouldn’t be a boring stop.
You MUST visit this natural phenomenon! It was incredible! We accidentally arrived at the Natural Bridge Caverns and there we discovered you could buy a discount cave tour and natural bridge ticket as a combo pack. Do the combo pack. And do the bridge first! We went around 11a.m. in June and it was a scorching day. Afterwards the cool depths of the cave were refreshing and so rejuvenating. It was $20 for the combo per person ($12 for the cave and $8 for the bridge). We then drove a quarter mile to the Natural Bridge State Park Visitors Center. The entrance to the Natural Bridge Trail is actually located within the center. No map for this state park (but trust me, you won’t need one—only one trail in and out). They have a nice cafeteria and gift shop as well.
We were unprepared for just how close the bridge was. It is literally at the beginning of the trail. This is why I give the Natural Bridge State Park a whopping 5-star rating in terms of accessibility. ANYONE can visit this park. Exiting the visitor center there is a series of stone steps beside a small waterfall. However, if those stairs appear to be too strenuous (and they are long and slightly uneven, but not too steep for those afraid of heights) there is a shuttle to take visitors to the trail start. And when I say the Natural Bridge is right at the beginning of the trail, I mean it is RIGHT THERE. I had expected a good hike to this bridge, and lo and behold we turned around a bend and there it was. We are talking less than a quarter of a mile … maybe 200 feet and it’s in plain view! The trail can take you further back to other attractions that equal about ¾ of a mile hike one way (1.5 miles total), but if walking is a challenge, the bridge itself requires no hike and is extremely accessible.
Nothing can quite prepare you for the striking impact of the Natural Bridge. It’s over 20 stories tall, has a road on it that cannot be seen from below, and is incredibly awe-inspiring. There’s a distinctly ancient feel to walking closer and closer to the towering landmark. My eyes had trouble realizing the true size of it. Basically, it feels as though you are walking through a Jurassic Park landscape. We, of course, took many pictures of the bridge, but I also encourage you to just take in the sight as you walk under the arch with the natural eye. No matter how long you look up, it doesn’t stop impressing. I was so glad we decided to stop.
If you choose to follow the trail, it will lead you under the Natural Bridge and on to the Monacan Indian Village. It’s a display living history exhibit that was open with costumed volunteers. It’s a fun stop and I heartily recommend it!
Finally, the trails lead you to Lace Falls. Lace Falls is further up the trail and at the falls the only way back is turning around and returning from whence you came. I liked the pretty picture Lace Falls made, but Marc was less impressed by the fact that the water never actually “falls” but runs down the creased rock into the stream. If you’re not picky about your waterfalls, it’s a fun conclusion to trail!
The real hidden gem of the Natural Bridge Trail is the Lost River. It’s between the Monacan Village and Lace Falls. It’s a stream discovered a while ago, yet the source and end of the stream has never been discovered—it was my favorite part next to the Natural Bridge itself!
The stairs going up were more intense than I had predicted and I got winded and needed to stop a few times along the way up, so beware and save some energy for that final climb.
All in all, the Natural Bridge Trail offered no problems for those fearful of heights or difficulty hiking. It was an easy beautiful trail with fun stops along the way!
We went on to Natural Bridge Caverns and I can’t encourage you enough to do this AFTER the Natural Bridge. At first, I was worried I would be too physically wiped out from the heat and those stairs, but as soon as that cool blast of air hit me, I was ready to go! The cave had some interesting features including a well, view of the natural entrance, and even a shallow pool. The best part by far was the haunted tale of the screaming lady and the red light that marks the spot where terrified cavers abandoned the cave.
Caves always make me a little nervous. I have fears about getting stuck in a tight place or slipping and falling down a steep path. The cave didn’t have any tight squeezes, nor was it steep. The end of the tour (before turning to go back) the guide warned us it was a little slippery and Marc nearly wiped out. Thankfully some nice strangers caught him. This was the only slippery place we encountered. Everything else felt very safe and secure. It’s very much a family friendly cave that seemed appropriate for most age and fitness levels. Just be cautious at the turnaround point!
We ended the trip at the Pink Cadillac Diner. Service was a little slow (it was a Saturday). Marc got the Love Me Tenders (chicken tenders) and they were the highlight. Also, you must save room for their Hershey Ice Cream Milkshakes! It was a cutesy themed diner and a nice wrap up for our stop at Natural Bridge!
So, have you ever heard of or visited Natural Bridge? Are there any fears, concerns, or questions of the unknown I didn’t cover? Comment below and let me know!
See my helpful trip tips below for more information! 🙂
Per Person Cost: $ (>25) $$(25-50) $$$(50-100) $$$$(100-200) $$$$$(200+)
If you stay in Lexington it will be a 15-minute drive over to the Natural Bridge Visitor’s Center.
Motel 6: $90 per night
Natural Bridge: $
Natural Bridge Caverns: $
Pink Cadillac Diner: $
There is a seriously slippery part in the Natural Bridge Caverns at the end of the tour (where you can see the red light). Marc almost fell and was caught by helpful strangers. A girl fell and cut up her leg in the tour before us. Take care at the end and use the handrails when they are available!
US Dollar: Every payment situation offered the option for cash or credit. Be sure to have cash on hand at the Natural Bridge Caverns to tip your tour guide! Andrew was ours and he was great!
Locals and Odd Quirks
NO Sunkist! Seriously, if you are a fan of this sweet orange beverage stock up before you head out! I ran into a couple of guys who were discussing their dismay over yet another gas station that didn’t carry it! And at the Natural Bridge Visitor’s Center, a horde of children in front of us rushed to the drink cooler and started immediately exclaiming, “There’s no orange pop!” to their parents. If you have an addiction problem like some people (ahem not myself of course ….) then be sure to have some with you before you venture into the Lexington, Virginia area!
Listen for the story of the lady in Natural Bridge Caverns and see the red light that marks the haunting!