Road Trip to Virginia’s Natural Bridge

After more than a year of travel limitations, many of us are itching to escape. A nice road trip through scenic Virginia is a great cure for cabin fever.

Inspired by its current exhibition Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts curated two road trips from VMFA to the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Va. Both the “Nature Lover’s Route” and the “Black History Route” offer suggestions for where to explore, eat, and stay along the way.

Needing their own getaways, members of the VMFA staff decided to try out the road trips for themselves. Read about their experiences, then download one or both of the itineraries for yourself!

Maggie Callan

My husband and I used the Virginia Arcadia exhibition as an excuse to take our six-month old baby on her first road trip. We extended our trip with a few nights in Raphine, Va.—an easy 30-minute drive to the Natural Bridge.

The weather was perfect for our visit to the park, and we were able to walk down to the Natural Bridge and back before the baby got bored. Even though I had visited the site before as a kid, I was still struck by the scale and grandeur of the Natural Bridge, which you can only really grasp by seeing it in person. I was glad I brought the baby carrier though, as the steps down to the access point were not exactly stroller-friendly.

We stopped at the Southern Inn in Lexington after our excursion for a bite. Our late lunch of baja fish tacos, fried Brussels sprouts, and shrimp & grits was delicious, but do check the menu before you go as menu selections rotate often. The weekend away could not have been better for creating the first of many special memories with our new family of three.

A view of the Natural Bridge from underneath.
Photo by Maggie Callan

Zach Trumbo

Being outdoors and surrounded by nature has always been a passion of mine, and growing up in the Shenandoah Valley provided me with countless opportunities to fulfill that passion. On my road trip to the Natural Bridge, I returned to one of my favorite hiking trails at Humpback Rocks.

The short yet rather steep climb is just enough of a hike to get a good workout, and the expansive views at the top are well worth the journey. I recommend bringing plenty of snacks because you’ll definitely want to sit and stay for a while.

Also, be prepared to encounter plenty of wildlife while hiking. The Humpback Rocks area is home to many different types of animals, including deer, owls, snails, turtles, toads, newts, and even a black bear or two.

Enjoy the hike and don’t forget: pack it in, pack it out!

The Shenandoah Valley from the peaks of Humpback Rocks.
Photo by Zach Trumbo

The two road trip itineraries include many more stops and suggestions, and there are plenty of ways to mix-and-match and make your adventure to the Natural Bridge your own.

We wish you safe and happy travels. Please share your experiences on social media with #VMFANaturalBridge.