Students & Groups at Natural Bridge Park
The Natural Bridge Park is a great field trip and group tour destination in spring, summer and fall. We invite people of all ages to learn about the discovery of the Natural Bridge, experience the Monacan Living History Exhibit, explore the deepest commercial caverns on the east coast, and enjoy beautiful trails filled with native flora and fauna.
We offer a combination of interpretive programs at a discounted rate to schools and groups with a minimum of 10 people. For school groups, we have paid particular attention to the state of Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) criteria and developed our educational programs to be supportive of SOL requirements. Our Natural Bridge interpretive program is approximately 15 minutes long and covers the history of the Bridge and the fundamentals of geology, such as erosion and weathering. During a 45 minute tour of our Monacan Living History Exhibit, students and groups learn about the culture of the Monacan Indians, the effects of European settlers and trade goods on Native American life, and the value of archaeology in discovering past cultures. A special emphasis is placed on the use of waterways and natural resources for survival. Features of the exhibit include a newly constructed wigwam, longhouse, cooking area, men’s work shelter, and trading post. Interpreters can customize programs for K-12 students to cover Virginia and U.S. history, civics, and geography SOLs. Schools and groups are encouraged to explore the Cedar Creek Trail at their own pace while visiting the Natural Bridge. Our Cedar Creek Trail features a saltpeter mine used during the Civil War for raw materials, a lost river, and a lush 40 foot cascade called Lace Falls.
At our caverns, interpreters cover earth science and geology while leading groups on a 45 minute tour of our actively growing caverns. This natural environment provides a home to many species of animals, such as cave salamanders and multiple species of bats, which are often seen on tours. Rare geologic formations such as box work and stress fractures are seen throughout the tour and demonstrate many of the Virginia SOLs for students. The average temperature inside the cavern is a cool 54 degrees. We encourage visitors to bring a jacket or sweatshirt and wear closed toes shoes with rubber soles, as it is very wet inside the caverns.
Our newest exhibit, The Archaeology Field School, is a recreation of an archaeological dig site similar to those found at Native American sites throughout the region. Students will learn the process of gridding, excavation, locating, bagging, labeling, handling, screening, identification and cataloging of artifacts during a four hour program. Each student receives a field journal to record what they learn and what activities they participated in throughout the day. Students are encouraged to think about what each artifact means in order to visualize what Native American site looked like and how Native Americans lived. This program has been created for students in grades 4th through 8th and is restricted to a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 24 students.
Please check out our Nature’s Classroom Education Booklet for more information about our educational programs. We encourage schools to download our Student Workbook with questions that correspond to each interpretive program.
For schools and groups interested in booking a tour please fill out our online form or send an email to Sarah Rourke at firstname.lastname@example.org.