part 1. The journey
I sat braced on the edge of my seat, poised like a soldier at attention; nevertheless, I was ready to act, my hands gripping the camera. Anticipating a glimpse into the awe-inspiring beauty of the blue ridge mountains. Making it just one of the many reasons Natural Bridge State Park, VA, is a must-see experience. As we continue our ascent up the hill, I sense my husband has become one with the car. An all-knowing gleam lights up his face. He positions his hands on the steering wheel like he would his motorcycle. (channeling his inner Evel Knievel) How often have I heard him talk about the feel of completeness, the electrifying jolt of adrenaline that only comes from riding in the bends of the curve.
The pretzel-like curves of the mountains are now his home leading us further upward-opening to a view you could only imagine. Reminding me that Natural Bridge State Park, VA, is not the only must-see to experience. A pin could have dropped as no one dared to speak. I am lost in the natural beauty of mother earth. As we continued further into the mountain, I felt a sense of home. Slowly I slide back in my seat, dropping my shoulders and letting the camera fall into my lap. I find myself embracing the quiet as I slowly exhale.
part 2. an experience like no other
Nothing could have prepared me for the raw emotion or connection I would feel to the mountains. After making our way down the 137 steps (yes, you heard me right, 137 steps), I saw Natural Bridge with its 215-foot-high arch and 90 feet natural-made bridge. In spite of it being 300 million years old, it stood proud and unfazed by all its admirers; it took my breath away. Many things in life seem to happen by chance, and yet as I glanced around at all the people traveling worldwide. We were all called to the beauty of Natural Bridge, not by chance but by purpose. Maybe it was the need for silence to hear our own thoughts, a moment to take a break from the daily grind of life. Nevertheless, regardless of the reason, we had all chosen this day to be right here.
Stepping through the bridge’s archway was an unreal experience. I could not shake the feeling that I was standing in history. I started to envision what it must have been like for the Monacan Indians to live amongst such tranquil beauty only nature could offer. If you are still long enough, you can feel the calming presence of their ancestors. As the water drips off the arch, I secretly hope a few drops will hit me so I can feel its touch’s coolness.
Continuing our hike, we came upon what was once the home of the Monacan Indian Tribe, which is now one of 11 tribes recognized by the U.S. State of Virginia. The homes are made from rubbery like branches. They had laced branches to form a fence with manufactured spikes used to protect anything that dared to climb over. Etched in the rocks are the initials of people who wanted to cement their presence—proving that they, too, had experienced the beauty of Natural Bridge State Park. After exploring the caves and getting a glimpse at the beautiful waterfall, it was time to make our way back to the beginning of the trail. Yes, you guessed it, I had to walk back up all those 137 stairs. (more like crawling, but hey, I made it)
part 3. Worth the trip
Finally, sitting in the car on the ride home, I flip through the photos on the camera. Staring at them with such intensity as if I could bore them into my brain. In the end, we trek back down the mountain, with its sharp snakelike curves. Because of the g-forces, it causes the car to soar down the mountain. As butterflies dance around in my stomach, coupled with the rush of blood flooding in my ears as they start to pop. Ultimately I give in, letting the adrenaline take control. It reminds me of a rollercoaster I once rode on as a kid.
The cool touch of the glass window feels good beneath my skin. I blow a breath to fog the glass, then reaching up, I write N.B. My eyes feel heavy, but rather than give in, I fight the urge to close them, not wanting to miss anything. Finally, I let them drift close as my mind goes back over everything we experienced. Seeing Natural Bridge State Park with its vast archway, hearing the flowing rivers as well as the warmth of the sun’s heat. I think back to the beauty of the Mountains as they first welcomed us in. Now they are waving their goodbye, whispering secrets I wish I could hear. Reaching for my husband’s hand, I held it tight, so thankful we experienced this moment together.
In summary, Natural Bridge State Park, VA’s beauty is for anyone. The trail is an easy walking experience for young and old, from the novice adventurer to the expert hiker. Last but not least, bring the kids and, of course, bring the dogs. Because of its beauty Natural Bridge calls to the adventurer in us all. Are the mountains calling you? Don’t wait too long to answer its call. As always, follow me on I.G. and share your adventure. I can’t wait to hear. Don’t forget these must-have travel essentials. Here are some Resources just for you.
p.s. side note
In the end, head to a local Vineyard like Great Valley Farm Brewery and Winery. This little slice of heaven is a welcome spot for families with kids. The view of the mountain as it overlooks the Vineyards shows proof of its beauty. Bring your picnic basket or indulge your taste buds from one of the many visiting food trucks. Enjoy a glass of wine (bottle) or a nice cold brew. In the end, come for the beauty of the mountains and stay to Experience Natural Bridge State Park.