This week our adventure took us to the Natural Bridge, located pretty much in our own backyard. It took us about 2 hours to get there from where we are located, the weather wasn’t too bad. It was a little cloudy and in the 70’s.
Now let’s talk about The Natural Bridge. This is a natural attraction (hence the name) within Virginia and located in the county of Rockbridge. It was once owned by Thomas Jefferson and apparently surveyed by George Washington. There are carved initials on the side of the bridge said to be that of George Washington.
It was such a magnificent sight, quite overwhelming at first, it is 215 feet tall.
Looking up at the bridge and a wide arch gave me the feeling of vertigo. My head was spinning. Route 11 runs across the bridge and I learned several historical facts while walking through the park. See, I’m not much of a history buff, that’s Ed’s area of expertise. I never took an interest in history or social studies while in school and I barely remember anything of importance. I did make A’s and B’s, however, my comprehension skills of the said subject matter was about as long as my interest in it!
The Natural Bridge
Several interesting facts to know before you go, there are 137 steps leading down to the entrance of the park once you purchase your ticket, if you are disabled you are eligible to receive a pass to all Virginia state parks at no cost ( just show your disability placard and ID and proof of disability paperwork and the park ranger or administrator will issue a temporary pass and mail the permanent card), side note, you can also receive a lifetime membership card to all US National Parks by following the same procedure at any National Park office. That’s a major savings. Okay back to the history of the Natural Bridge, follow the pathway directly to the bridge where you will be in awe of the natural arch formed by the gorge of limestone from Cedar Creek. You are basically on what’s called “The Cedar Creek Trail”. As you walk beyond the bridge wondering what else there is to see on the trail, you come across a Native American Village (Monacan Indian Village)where you will find information as to how the Native Americans settled on the land and the crops they grew to survive. There’s also “The Lost River” and “Lace Falls”, how about the Saltpeter Cave. I found the information on the Saltpeter Cave quite interesting. I had not a clue what saltpeter was or is. Ed of course did and does, as he was explaining it to me, I found the sign in front of the actual cave. Saltpeter for those that are not familiar with it is actually used for gunpowder even dating back to the days of Thomas Jefferson. It’s a natural potassium nitrate, it comes from bird and bat droppings and urine. It’s potent in the caves because it’s protected from the elements. Strangely enough, upon further research I discovered it’s used to temper steel, for fireworks and get this, it’s used to preserve meat! Oh, further articles even go on to say that men in the military and boot camps believed saltpeter was put into their food and water to decrease their sex drive, hhhmm, quite interesting. Technically if they have prepackaged meals and the meat is preserved with saltpeter, then I guess it’s possible they are ingesting it, right? Common sense or is it just me? Now saltpeter can be found in other areas, but for the sake of this blog, we are talking about the Saltpeter Cave.
Gracious, I almost forgot to mention the trees. Both Ed and I have a strange fascination with dead trees, we like to take pictures of them. Of course, he is the photographer (in later blogs I will be releasing his photos for purchase but for now you only see my iPhone pics). I take it a step further, I love weird looking trees and they don’t disappoint at Natural Bridge Park. They grow crooked, sideways, lying down, with roots above the ground and in some very twisted ways.
Trees in The Natural Bridge Park
Last but not least, at the end of the Cedar Creek is Lace Falls. We were dying to take pictures of it, unfortunately, a tree stood blocking the best view with no way for us to get around it. We could not hop over the brick wall because of health reasons and violating the policy of the park of “no climbing on the cliffs and stones and rocks”. We were not going to chance making trouble nor hurting ourselves.
Plans for a trip back to the Natural Park are underway once the weather becomes colder. There are many other attractions to see and enjoy. We need an entire day or maybe two to take in everything. There are hiking trails, a zoo, a safari, a mine and actual caves that have a guided tour.
Our View As We Are Heading Back Out
There you have it, that’s our experience of The Natural Bridge Park! If you are traveling through or near Rockbridge, Virginia, please do yourself a favor and take an entire day and devote that time to the park along with the surrounding attractions, they will not disappoint.
Ed Taking Photos
On the way home, we stopped at the “Scenic View” stop and took in the beauty of the mountains before the sunset.
Until our next adventure, stay tuned.
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