If you’ve lived in Virginia for any amount of time, chances are you’re familiar with the wide array of natural treasures that can be found here. And if you haven’t had the chance to see them all, now’s your chance. This road trip maps out some of the most breathtaking geological features of our state, all in a convenient loop that will make for an unforgettable road trip. Fill up your tank — it’s time to start exploring! Click
here for the interactive map.
Side note: The duration of the trip is roughly 15 hours, so you can plan on making stops at some charming
local accommodations along the way.
1. Luray Caverns
Our natural wonders road trip begins at none other than the famous Luray Caverns. This site is one of the most fascinating natural areas in the state, transporting visitors to an underground world of bizarre and beautiful rock formations. The commercial cave was discovered by accident in 1878 and continues to awe travelers and explorers today. The enormous site is one of the many treasures in the Shenandoah Valley and is made up of several “rooms,” each with unique features.
2. Crabtree Falls
Crabtree Falls is a picturesque waterfall located just outside of Lexington. It's actually the tallest cascading waterfall series east of the Mississippi River. One of the best features of this must-see site is the well-marked trail that leads hikers right alongside the falls. Just be sure to stay on the path, as slippery rocks can prove fatal.
3. Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge is one of the most famous natural wonders of Virginia and is also known throughout the world. This geological creation was formed by Cedar Creek, which eroded a tunnel in the limestone. This was a sacred site to Native Americans before the area was colonized, and George Washington himself was among the first to survey this land.
4. Burke's Garden
The next stop along the trip is a breathtaking one. The area, often referred to as God's Thumbprint, earned its nickname because of how it appears from an aerial view. This lush valley in Tazewell is approximately 10 miles in diameter and includes some of the most fertile land in the state. It's also the highest mountain valley in Virginia, sitting at an elevation of 3,000 feet.
5. Natural Tunnel
Natural Tunnel is so spectacular that it is the main feature of its very own state park. The naturally formed cave is actually large enough to function as a railway tunnel. The opening reaches up to 200 feet in length and formed millions of years ago when groundwater slowly began to dissolve the limestone. And if you look closely enough, you'll even be able to spot signs of prehistoric life embedded in the walls of the tunnel.
6. Breaks Interstate Park
Breaks Interstate Park is often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the South." Located just on the border of Virginia and Kentucky, this natural wonder shows off the Breaks, which are deep gorges in the Jefferson Natural Forest. The Russel Fork River and the Clinchfield Railroad both run through the base of the park. It is believed that the famous explorer Daniel Boone was among the first settlers to discover this incredible area.
7. Jefferson Pool Hot Springs
After a long trip full of driving and sightseeing, what better way to end your journey than with a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs of Jefferson Pools? These spa structures were visited by Thomas Jefferson himself and are known for their healing properties. In fact, the Gentlemen's Pool House is the oldest spa structure in the entire country.
We know that not all of Virginia’s spectacular natural wonders are featured on this trip, but these will provide plenty to admire. Have you visited any of these fascinating sites? We’d love to hear about your experience!