In general, I avoid the touristy sights on my motorcycle travels as I get my kicks from the road. It’s the hundreds of great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains I most enjoy, and that is best done with the kickstand up and the throttle open. I need a pretty good reason to park the motorcycle and go for a walk, and Natural Bridge, Virginia, is worth time the time to stop and see.
The Natural Bridge, a Viriginia landmark worth seeing.
The Natural Bridge Hotel, a historic landmark
Natural Bridge has been around for a long time. It was already a tourist destination when Thomas Jefferson visited. This 200 foot high natural arch started as a cavern millennia ago. Over the eons erosion collapsed the majority of it leaving only the dramatic and inspiring rock formation that has drawn thousands of spectators over the last few centuries.
Natural Bridge Entrance and Gift Shop
This long history was part of the attraction for me. There are many early sketches and historic reports of the landmark displayed in the museum, it is part of our national heritage. This legacy though has come at the cost of commercialization of the natural attraction with manufactured ones added to woo the crowds and entice them to part with their dollars.
I managed to escape the Dinosaur Kingdom
We passed on the wax museum, the butterfly room, and most all the other man-made enhancements designed to lure the tourist. I was particularly amused by the hook for the “Escape from the Dinosaur Kingdom” with a statue of a cowboy riding a dinosaur. Easy to pass on that one, I’m quite satisfied with the Flintsone’s version of pre-history. Yabba-dabba dumb, but I’ll bet the kids like it as well as the Haunted Monster Museum.
The Indian Village re-creation.
We did walk the trail to view the re-created native indian village, but it pales in comparison to the main attraction.
We paid $18 a piece for a ticket that gave us partial access to all the attractions. All we really wanted to see was the Natural Bridge. It’s a short walk and worth the time, and while I we could have seen all the other kitschy stuff, I felt my money well spent avoiding it.
A side trip to Natural Bridge, Virginia is an easy and pleasant ride from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Exit near the James River Visitor Center on US 501 (milepost 63.7) or VA 130 a couple miles north (milepost 61.6, and the better ride). Follow Us 501 / VA 130 to Glasgow, turning right on VA 130 to pass through the small town for another 4 miles or so. Don’t worry, you can’t miss it when you arrive.
View of the other side of the Natural Bridge
The Natural Bridge and other scenic attractions nearby are found on Map #1 of the 6 map Blue Ridge Parkway series of motorcycle pocket maps by America Rides Maps. Don’t miss all the great motorcycle rides in this area.
Great rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
- Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here - AmericaRidesMaps.com
- Wayne Busch – Cartographer