Discover Eight Natural Wonders of Virginia

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

Comments: 47 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, Va.

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 – Duffield, Va.

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 – Montross, Va.

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.

 

BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK – Breaks, Va.

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 PARK – McLean, Va.

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.

 

 

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47 Comments

Susie Metz says:

Heads up, the actual cavern are not wheelchair accessible. Regardless of what the man says who takes your money. Nature didn’t plan for that.

Jeff Paris says:

What about Natural Chimneys Mt Solon Va?

Marshall says:

There used to be a place called Ferry Stone Park, is it still there?

Casey Higgins says:

It sure is! Fairy Stone State Park is located in Stuart, Virginia. Here’s the info – http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/FairyStoneStatePark/.

Gary says:

Somebody was really confused when they listed the Patowmack Canal and “Carousels of Great Falls Park” as natural landmarks in the article above. First, neither of them are “natural,” and second, the carousels don’t even exist anymore–the page the link takes you to states that right away. So don’t go to Great Falls to see the carousels that aren’t there anymore… 🙂

Casey Higgins says:

The writer relied on information from the NPS when considering Great Falls. This was written May 2014; undoubtedly, things change. Correct, the carousels are not/were not natural, but they were referenced on the NPS site, which has since removed the link. I will update the article. Thank you.

Yes ,I definitely agree with the list, my parents had a beautiful home quite near Natural Bridge,..I use to carry my 2 toddlers in backpacks while hiking at the Natural Bridge, the lighter toddler in the front pack and the heavier toddler in the back pack, absolutely fabulous views, but take the entire walk/hike..Also ,the Blue Ridge Parkway is incredibly beautiful all year long, and if you don’t hike, you can just drive, …I especially love Otter Creek, and the Peaks Of Otter..and for the real hiking,camping adventurer, you must go on the Appalachian trail… I always am amazed that these especially beautiful and pristine locations are rarely mentioned…you can camp at all these locations, except for the Natural Bridge, or that is the way it use to be..But there use to be a very beautiful hotel with delicious food and incredible hospitality at the Natural Bridge Hotel, owned by the same people that own the bridge… And if you do go to the Natural Bridge, do drive into Lexington ,Virginia, home to VMI,which is the Virginia Military Institute, which has a great museum and is full of Cival War History. Stonewall Jackson, taught here and led his students into battle…Stonewall Jackson is also buried in the local Stonewall Jackson Cemetery… And to top off your visit,Washington and Lee University is also located in Beautiful Lexington, Virginia…. General Robert E.Lee, became president of the then Washington College after the Cival War. President Robert E. Lee, died in his presidency ,while serving Washington College, and lays recumbent in Lee Chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee University, which also has a very historical museum .Lee’s horse, named Traveler, is buried outside of Lee Chapel…And Stonewall Jackson’s horse Little Sorrel, used to be stuffed and displayed at the VMI museum..the proper word for stuff ed , would be taxidermy… At any rate Lexington should be one of the great wonders of Virginia… Marvelous restaurants, Inns ,quaint shops, and lovely and generous people…You will fall in love…Have fun ,…Virginia, is more than just just a pretty face..ENJOY !!!…Oh ,as if you couldn’t tell, I am a Virginian by birth, and use to live in Beautiful Lexington ,Virginia.. Take my word for it, you won’t be disappointed…

Chrissy Snyder says:

can’t believe Natural Chimneys in Augusta County isn’t on this list.

Curt Diemer says:

Westmoreland State Park? They have a big pool? I must be missing something.

Stefanie says:

They do! Check out the website for more information.

Morgan says:

Westmoreland State Park includes the cliffs mentioned in the description. From these cliffs fall skeletons, sharks teeth, and other millions of years old fossils due to the ravages of erosion.

Ellen Hendon says:

Westmoreland State Park has a beautiful pool. My granddaughter loved the park.

John says:

I agree to the additions posted in the comments. The list is not complete without McAfee’s knob, though!!

http://www.roanokeoutside.com/mcafee-knob-trail

Thomas says:

I agree Devil’s Marbleyard and also Fairystone

Roanoke says:

Devil’s Marbleyard should be on this list. Eight climbable acres of white VW-sized boulders spilling down the mountainside. Near Natural Bridge. http://www.roanokeoutside.com/devils-marbleyard-trail