Virginia’s Natural Bridge has awed visitors for centuries. The 215-tall limestone arch carved by Cedar Creek was revered as a sacred site by the Native American Monacan tribe. Thomas Jefferson was so inspired by “the most Sublime of nature’s works” that he purchased the land bridge and its surrounding acreage to use as a retreat. Now the centerpiece of a 1,500-acre Virginia state park, the Natural Bridge continues to draw visitors year-round—more than 182,000 in 2020. Soon, some of those visitors will be arriving at night.
Courtesy of Virginia State Parks
That’s because in April the International Dark-Sky Association recognized Natural Bridge State Park as an official Dark Sky Park, one of just 130 such parks around the world and the fourth in Virginia. Dark Sky Parks are protected lands recognized for the exceptional quality of their starry nights and for providing public access to stargazers.
Natural Bridge State Park usually closes at dusk, but hours are extended to 11:45 p.m. on select nights when amateur astronomers can bring their own telescopes and survey the heavens. You’ll find the schedule on the park’s Events and Programs page at dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/natural-bridge.