If you are ever traveling on I-81 through Virginia, the Natural Bridge is an easy and fun stop for the family. There is a nice combination of hiking, seeing God’s creation, learning history, and just being active.
You can take a shuttle down to the Natural Bridge or walk a fun set of steps along a creek. There is a really old tree along that walk that died not too long ago. By the Natural Bridge itself, there is usually an employee who will share some of the history of the bridge. I love that Jefferson owned the land and that the Natural Bridge was used for making ammunition during the Revolutionary War.
If you hike the path beyond the Natural Bridge, there is a replica Native American village with people in costume. The college-age girls working there playing with their iphones weren’t exactly in character, but our children were able to ask them questions about different artifacts in the village.
Continuing the hike, there also is a cave and a small waterfall. The water level was pretty low so this wasn’t anything spectacular, but we still enjoyed the exercise. Maybe because I saw at least 5 more waterfalls on our trip, this one is even less memorable.
Tips for visiting the Natural Bridge:
- We were there after 5 pm. Apparently, the talks by the bridge end by 5, but Elijah asked the man sitting there if he would share with us. He shared the talk with us even though the time was passed.
- If you are there at dusk, there is a “Days of Creation” light show. Since our family would have had to have 2 rooms to stay at the Natural Bridge Hotel (and dusk is so late in the summer), we decided not to stay for this.
- The paths are paved or crushed limestone and are a pretty easy hike – even if you have a stroller.
- If you want to spend more time at the Natural Bridge, there are others things there to do: a wax museum, a toy museum, butterfly garden, Natural Bridge Caverns (all for an additional cost). Nearby, there also is Foamhenge, but the drive was blocked off when we drove past it in the evening.
Things our children loved:
- How immense the Natural Bridge truly was
- The talk explaining the history of the Bridge (and even about how some of it collapsed)
- The Native American village
- Jefferson’s Playground (indoor playground/fort) – I actually thought that the entire lower level where this was located smelled horrible, but the kids liked it.
As a bonus, the Natural Bridge just lends itself to taking fun photos.
If I were you, I would definitely check out the Natural Bridge’s website before you visit. In February, it was bought by the state of Virginia so who knows what might change there in the coming years.
We really enjoyed this stop in a day with lots of travel. If you are traveling I-81, Virginia’s Natural Bridge is a place you might want to stop.