Discover Eight Natural Wonders of Virginia

by Stefanie Hatcher | Posted: May 14, 2014 | Updated: Aug 14, 2015

Comments: 39 Comments

Updated August 14, 2015

No need to grab the passport for tours of the Seven Wonders of the World. We’ve got you covered. Virginia is home to many of the most well-known and sought-after outdoor landmarks in the country. So pack up the car and discover some of the Commonwealth’s eight  natural wonders.



Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns

Looking for the ultimate underground experience? Known as “Geology’s Hall of Fame,” Luray Caverns is the largest and one of the most popular caverns in Eastern America. Founded in 1878, the Registered Natural Landmark reaches peaks up to 10 stories high and has more natural wonders within its caverns than any other in Virginia. Check out Giant’s Hall, filled with towering columns and crystal clear pools or The Stalagpipe Organ, home to the world’s largest instrument. There’s always more to discover from the state’s eight caverns.


NATURAL BRIDGE – Natural Bridge, Va.

Natural Bridge Park

Natural Bridge

The Virginia Natural Bridge has been included in several “Seven Natural Wonders of the World” lists. Although mostly on the lists from the 19th and early 20th centuries, its natural wonders still remain today. Formed when a cavern collapsed, legend holds that a young George Washington surveyed the Natural Bridge site for Lord Fairfax. Today, landmarks remain of the work and on the wall of the bridge where he carved his initials. Just before the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land, including the Natural Bridge, from King George, III of England for 20 shillings. Today it is privately owned. At the end of the day, unwind to view the Drama of Creation show, created in 1927 by then-president, Calvin Coolidge.



Natural Tunnel State Park

Natural Tunnel State Park

Natural Tunnel was once described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The tunnel, which was naturally carved through a limestone ridge for more than a thousand years, is more than 850 feet long and reaches a height of up to 10 stories. One of Virginia’s 36 state parks, Natural Tunnel offers cave tours and canoe trips on the Clinch River.



Westmoreland State Park

Westmoreland State Park

Head to the northern neck of the Potomac River and you’ll find Westmoreland State Park. Take in the breathtaking views atop Horse Head Cliffs or stroll along the river’s shore and hunt ancient shark teeth. The park’s amenities include something for everyone in the family to enjoy, from the Olympic-sized pool to boating and fishing. Take in the great outdoors by doing some bird watching; the region is widely known for spotting American bald eagles, kingfishers, great blue herons, ospreys and more.


BURKES GARDEN – Tazewell, Va.

Aerial view of Burkes Garden, location of The Varmint.

Aerial view of Burkes Garden.

Burkes Garden is the Commonwealth’s highest valley and largest rural historic district. Described as “God’s Thumbprint,” the bowl-shaped valley will take visitors back to a simpler time when agriculture, religion and education were the main focuses of its settlers. Today, the Garden offers breathtaking scenery, peaceful hiking and biking, bird watching, and more. Head to the cemetery at the Central Lutheran Church to discover gravestones dating back to the 1700s or follow the Appalachian Trail for scenic overlooks into the Garden.



Russell Fork River cuts through Breaks Interstate Park

Russell Fork River cuts through Breaks Interstate Park

Head west to the state border and you’ll find the “Grand Canyon of the South.” Historic Breaks Interstate Park was discovered in 1767 by Daniel Boone and offers all the beauty you’d expect from the mountainous land, where you can take a tranquil hike or bike ride. Go for a canoe ride on Laurel Lake or take the family out for a day of geocaching. The park is open year-round and boasts motel, cottage and cabin accommodations.


GREAT DISMAL SWAMP – Chesapeake and Suffolk, Va.

Lake Drummond

Lake Drummond, located inside the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge

The National Wildlife Refuge is the largest remnant of a habitat that spanned more than one million acres over southern Virginia and northern North Carolina. In 1973, the Great Dismal Swamp was donated to The Nature Conservancy, making it a National Wildlife Refuge in 1974. If you’re looking to hunt or just take in the beauty of the habitat, the Great Dismal Swamp has activities from hunting and fishing, to photography and environmental education classes.



Great Falls

Great Falls

Just 15 miles from DC sits one of the most historic natural wonders in the U.S.: Great Falls Park, located on the Potomac River. A unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the park’s origins date back to 10,500 BC. Stroll along the river and take in the sights of the falls and abundant wildlife. Children five and older can attend the Junior Ranger Program to explore and learn, as well.


Leave a Reply


Did I miss Cumberland Gap?

Bill Cawood says:

Grayson Highlands State Park

sue says:

What a bunch of fat whiners…. Get off your arse & enjoy the beauty of VA – if you don’t like it – leave!!!

I, too, am a photographer living in VA and really appreciate the article. Looking forward to visiting these places soon. Love the article.

andreart2013 says:

Each state is beautiful in its own way. Coming from the Plains, I’m impressed by all of Virginia’s trees.

I’ve visited about half of these sites; they are very picturesque.

Erik says:

So much negativity, really people if you don’t want to visit the state then don’t. I moved to Virginia from Pennsylvania back in 1996, and the farther out I moved (Alexandria, Leesburg, Cross Junction and now Edinburg) the more beautiful it was. There is so much to see and do here, just have to open your eyes and appreciate the natural beauty this state offers. I’m a photographer, and have so many places on my list that are within a few hours that I want to go and shoot …. this article just added to my list! Thank you Virginia Tourism, looking forward to visiting all or some of these spots.

Casey Higgins says:

Thanks for your support, Erik! Is there a place where we can see your work?

The Bug! says:

how can these possibly be “the most well-known and sought-after outdoor landmarks in the country”. ive heard of zero of these and i live in PA (its close by). Virginia is not unsightly, but the articles claim is beyond bold (and certainly inaccurate).if these were genuinely well known destinations, if there werent ridiculous speed traps everywhere, and if anyone with a VA license place knew how to drive id be more interested in going there. As it stands, ill continue to drive through the state to go to actual destinations like OBX, or avoid it and go to Delaware, Maryland, or DC…ya know..nearby destinations anyone ever talks about.

Casey Higgins says:

Well, at least now you’ve heard of them. :)

Steph says:

Dear The Bug!, As a person born in PA and still has family there, I have a few things to point out for you: 1) PA doesn’t have a damn beautiful thing, 2) thanks for the geography lesson and clarifying PA is near by VA, and 3) please do everyone a favor and stay in your nearby state.

DoItOutdoors says:

OBX? Seriously? LOL. I’ll take most any of these over OBX any day of the week. I mean, I love OBX, but it’s just the beach, yanno?

The Bug! says:

So noone has clearly disputed my original point: these are clearly not: “the most well-known and sought-after outdoor landmarks in the country”. I never said that there were not beautiful things to see in VA, as a matter of fact, every state has alittle bit to offer. However, “the most well-known and sought-after outdoor landmarks in the country”, is just clearly false. Thank you for proving my point by blatantly avoiding discussing it.

bill says:

Ive seen just about everything in Virginia as far as scenery and parks go. Virginia has some nice farm land, rolling hills, and okay beaches. I rank Virginia somewhere in the 20s as far as best parks go. Its true that you have to appreciate your surroundings. You could live in a state like Kansas or Oklahoma watching tumble weeds and corn sway in the wind.

I heard on the radio about a year ago that Virginia was voted for the best state parks and couldn’t help but laugh. In terms to scale of beauty and awe Virginia is tame compared to many other states that ive been to across North America.

Erik says:

No one cares what you think Bill. Thanks for commenting

Clayton Hensley says:

Great list … I would add Grayson Highlands/Mt. Rogers/Whitetop Mtn. to that list.

Ken Dobson says:

Natural wonders in Virginia; really?
Why would anyone even want to spend time here?

Casey Higgins says:

Have you visited Virginia, Ken? If not, you should. You’re totally missing out.

Emily says:

Sounds like someone who doesn’t go outside much. The nature here is one reason why I love Virginia. You may not know if you live in Richmond or some other big city, but go outside and explore the beauty that is Virginia.

Amy Shearin says:

Hey, I’m from Richmond and I still know the beauty of Virginia :) It’s really not that big of a city anyway 😉 At least not when you compare it to other cities. I remember being surprised when I drove through Atlanta and there were 7 lanes of traffic. I digress though. I now live in FL and still come home to VA 2 to 3 times a year and am planning on visiting some of these sights with my 3 and 5 year old boys sometime in their near future! There are so many things in VA I want them to see as they grow up—even if they won’t live there.

I get comments like, “Virginia is so beautiful!” and “That is so amazing!” all the time from my photos. I go hiking all over the place and am always amazed at just how beautiful Virginia is. If you don’t think it is and haven’t been hiking then you might want to stop commenting. It is just ignorance. Every single state in the USA is beautiful and has beautiful places. We have a vast and unique country with deserts, mountains, beaches, oceans, lakes, plains, etc. I don’t understand the need to write such negative things about a state… It blows my mind.

Jan says:

I’m guessing that Ole Ken finds it hard to enjoy ANY place – unless someone is waiting on him hand and foot. The inability to appreciate one’s surroundings usually contributes to a dour, sour and unhappy person who becomes a lonely pariah.
I’m glad I’m not around Ole Ken.

Rae Eavers says:

Virginia is one of the prettiest states! Are you kidding?!

I lived in Va. and raised my kids there for 10 years……beautiful state, I miss the wonderful drives we used to go on, there was always somewhere new to explore. I live in Fl. now, can’t take cold weather and Fl. has a lot to see, but nothing beats a fall foliage drive in Va.!

DoItOutdoors says:

Guess you’ve not spent much time there.