Natural Beauty Activities

Natural Bridge State Park

On September 24, 2016, Natural Bridge, a National Historic Landmark, will become Natural Bridge State Park and take its place as the 37th jewel in the crown of the Virginia State Parks collection.

Plans for the Day

Shuttles will run from 8:30 a.m. until the park closes.

A Brief History of the Bridge

(An excerpt from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.)

In 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased the bridge and 157 surrounding acres from King George III of England for 20 shillings. The bridge passed from one private owner to the next and became a tourist destination. For nearly 250 years the Bridge stayed in private hands and that was fine; until it wasn't.

In May 2013 then owner Angelo Puglisi announced his plan to sell the Natural Bridge complex before the end of the year. Local communities passed resolutions (Rockbridge, Lexington and Buena Vista), and land trusts across the state and nation urged a positive outcome. The Valley Conservation Council and Rockbridge Area Conservation Council assumed leadership roles and hosted tours, wrote articles, encouraged support and formed the Friends of Natural Bridge.

On Feb. 6, 2014, the dream to ensure the protection of the bridge in perpetuity came together thanks to the non-profit Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund and its leader Tom Clarke. Puglisi gifted the bridge and 188 acres of the property — valued at $21 million — to the fund. The nonprofit group agreed to pay for the remaining 1,300 acres with a loan from the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund, from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Resources Authority.

While the Commonwealth will not own the Natural Bridge property until the debt is paid off, Virginia State Parks will begin management of the approximately 1,500 acres and facilities. The State Park does not include the Natural Bridge Hotel and Conference Center or the Caverns at Natural Bridge.

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