Appalachian Trail

This driving route parallels the hiking trail, from the top of New England to the heart of Dixie, taking you through continuous natural beauty—without the sweat, bugs, or blisters.

Natural Bridge

Held sacred by local Monacan Indians and bought from King George in 1774 by Thomas Jefferson, the 215-foot-high notch of Natural Bridge (800/533-1410 or 540/291-2121, daily, $20 adults) is a remarkable piece of geologic acrobatics. Spanning some 90 feet, the thick stone arch bridges Cedar Creek at the bottom of a steeply walled canyon. To see the Natural Bridge, which is heralded as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World (others on the list include Niagara Falls, Yellowstone, and Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland), you have to buy a ticket from the unbelievably huge souvenir shop that fills the bottom of the old hotel. Natural Bridge is the focus of a once-plush resort complex that has definitely seen better times but still offers some 150 rooms in two hotels, as well as a large cave and a wax museum of Virginia history in which you can watch the wax figures being made, dressed, and posed.

The Natural Bridge Park Historic Hotel ($125 and up), located next to the Natural Bridge entrance, has rooms and four- to six-room cottages across the road. There’s also an Olympic-sized pool. The colonial dining room serves all meals daily, with outdoor dining on the veranda and popular weekend buffets.

 

Natural Bridge Park Historic Hotel (15 Appledore Ln.)

Natural Bridge