Caverns at Natural Bridge


Useful Information

The Natural Bridge, Virginia. By Frederic Edwin Church (*1826-✝1900).
photography
Natural Bridge, Virginia, U.S.A. Public Domain.
Location: 15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge, VA 24578.
Shenandoah Valley. I 81 northbound exit 175, north on Rt 11 for 8 km. I 81 southbound exit 180, south on Rt 11 for 7 km.
(37.627946, -79.544722)
Open: The Natural Bridge:
01-MAR to 04-MAR daily 9-17.
05-MAR to 13-MAR daily 9-19.
14-MAR to 08-APR daily 9-20.
09-APR to 18-JUN daily 9-21.
19-JUN to 10-JUL daily 9-21:30.
11-JUL to 06-SEP daily 9-21.
07-SEP to 16-OCT daily 9-20.
17-OCT to 07-NOV daily 9-19.
08-NOV to 29-NOV daily 9-18.
30-NOV to 03-DEC daily 9-17.
04-DEC to 24-DEC Mon-Fr, Sun 9-17, Sat 9-18.
Natural Bridge Caverns: MAR to NOV daily 10-17, tours every half hour.
[2010]
Fee: The Natural Bridge: Adults USD 18, Children (5-12) USD 10.
Natural Bridge Caverns: Adults USD 14, Children (5-12) USD 9.
Combo: Adults USD 26, Children (5-12) USD 14.
[2010]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=14 °C
Guided tours: D=45 min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Natural Bridge of Virginia LLC, 15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge, VA 24578, Tel. +1-540-291-2121, reservation: 1-800-533-1410. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1750 surveyed by George Washington.
04-JUL-1754 the "rock bridge" was purchased by Thomas Jefferson from King George III for 20 shillings.
1833 sold by Jefferson's heirs, Forest Inn erected by the new owner.
1889-91 explored by Col. Henry Parsons.
1977 Natural Bridge Caverns opened to the public.

Description

Natural Bridge, Virginia. oil on canvas, by American artist David Johnson (1827–1908). Courtesy of Reynolda House, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Saltpeter cave, Natural Bridge, Va. Detroit Publishing Co. no. 500570. Between 1900 and 1915.

The main sight here is not the cavern, but the natural bridge: the last remains of a huge cave system forms a bridge 30 m long, 50 m wide on one end and 17 m on the other end and 72 m high. The Cedar Creek flows through this huge arch.

This site was discovered by the Monacan Indians about 400 years ago. It was a sacred place for them. George Washington surveyed the area for Lord Fairfax. Thomas Jefferson bought the bridge from King George III to ensure it was available to the public. He called it "undoubtedly one of the sublimest curiosities in nature". He built a two-room log cabin for guests and thought about larger accommodations to house the flood of visitors he anticipated. Years later, the railway dropped off thousands of people at Natural Bridge Station which wanted to view the world renowned rock bridge.

During the Revolution the bridge was used to produce bullets for firearms. The Colonists dropped molten lead from the top of the Natural Bridge. The lead formed round drops which cooled while falling, and that was it! No tools needed. During the war of 1812, guano from a cave just above Natural Bridge with a high content of saltpetre was used for making gunpowder.

There are actually two different sights nearby, the natural bridge and the show cave named after the bridge. There is a fee for both, and a combo ticket available. The natural bridge is visited self-guided, this tour is obviously not underground, the 1.5 km long Cedar Creek Trail was built through the bridge and along the homonymous creek. Natural Bridge Caverns is the deepest commercial cave on the East Coast. The descent is equivalent to a 34-storey building. Tours of the three-level cave include many steps, but the rewards are worth the effort.

Those who like cave trekking can do a four-hour tour into undeveloped parts of the cavern. Helmets and lights are provided, old clothes and rubber boots are recommended.

Other attractions within Natural Bridge include the Natural Bridge Wax Museum and Factory Tour, Natural Bridge Village with a spectacular nightly sound and light show, and the Natural Bridge Zoological Park.