VCU Road Scholar in Natural Bridge

Since the first hotel was built in the 1830s, the dramatic beauty of Natural Bridge has attracted visitors to this mountain valley retreat. Thomas Jefferson (who owned it for 50 years) called the most sublime place on earth. Experience its wonder seen in the blossoms and first growth of spring, or against the dappled colors of autumn, or feel a summer breeze in the cool beneath the arch.

VCU´s site at Natural Bridge is just minutes from I-81 on Route 11, south of historic Lexington. The arch, hotel, and several adjacent attractions are under the same management. The Natural Bridge Inn & Conference Center features fine dining, onsite classes, double occupancy, singles extra charge, private baths, hiking, tennis, and seasonal indoor pool. More about the site is at http://www.naturalbridgeva.com/.

Below is a listing of Road Scholar/Elderhostel programs at Natural Bridge. Beneath each description is an easy way to find the available dates for that program.

Registration is by phone to Elderhostel Participants Services at 877-426-8506, or online at www.roadscholar.org.

  • For a current listing of all VCU Richmond programs, go to www.roadscholar.org. At that page, a box at upper-right contains the text "Keyword or Program #". Click in that box, then enter: natural bridge virginia, then click Go. Listings for a number of programs and available dates should appear.

Natural Bridge Site Coordinator: Jim Gray

Current Programs


#16228: A 21st Century Chautauqua at Beautiful Natural Bridge

Theodore Roosevelt called the Chautauqua movement "the most American thing in America." Originating in 1874, Chautauqua assemblies spread quickly across the US, providing lectures on every conceivable topic - enhanced by music, entertainment and an opportunity to socialize. Join us to re-create the spirit of Chautauqua as top instructors from all VCU Road Scholar sites present a dozen tantalizing and thought-provoking classes on history, literature, mythology, science, music, Shakespeare and more. Add two evenings of superb music and entertainment, an evening laser-light show and an afternoon to explore this National Historic Landmark that was sacred to the Monacan Indians and deemed ´the most sublime of Nature´s works" by Thomas Jefferson.

  • To see dates for this program, go to www.roadscholar.org. At that page, a box at upper-right contains the text "Keyword or Program #". Click in that box, then enter: 16228, then click Go. The listing for "A 21st Century Chautauqua" should appear, with program dates on the right side of the screen. Other links for the program are at the center of the screen.

#17170: Shenandoah National Park: A Story of Natural and Human History

Discover the amazing human and natural history of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Learn about the personal sacrifices made by residents in order to make possible Congress´s 1926 "novel experiment" that gave birth to the Park and its famous Skyline Drive, which became a National Scenic Byway. In classes and field trips with an expert naturalist, examine the geological marvel that is Natural Bridge; traverse portions of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway; and explore mountains, forests, meadows and pristine wilderness at Shenandoah National Park. Enjoy a special performance of the early Appalachian music that once sounded through the hills, played on authentic period instruments.

  • To see dates for this program, go to www.roadscholar.org. At that page, a box at upper-right contains the text "Keyword or Program #". Click in that box, then enter: 17170, then click Go. The listing for "Shenandoah National Park" should appear, with program dates on the right side of the screen. Other links for the program are at the center of the screen.

#19288: Civil War Generals: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Virginia was the pivotal state in America´s Civil War, a reluctant addition to the Confederacy yet a point of unrelenting focus by the Union nonetheless. In this state where six of every 10 Civil War battles were fought, recall the actions and analyze the leadership of some of the war´s well-known and more obscure generals. With a top Civil War historian, deepen your understanding of the reasons for the war, the consequences it wrought and the legacy that survives it, and visit battlefields, gravesites, museums and more in the Shenandoah Valley to grasp the war´s full meaning for the American identity. Learn about Appalachian music as well, and study the long tale of your National Historic Landmark surroundings, legendary Natural Bridge.

  • To see dates for this program, go to www.roadscholar.org. At that page, a box at upper-right contains the text "Keyword or Program #". Click in that box, then enter: 19288, then click Go. The listing for "Civil War Generals" should appear, with program dates on the right side of the screen. Other links for the program are at the center of the screen.

#14350: Revolutionary America, Virginia: Birthplace of Presidents, Music and Times of Stephen Foster

Revolutionary America: Investigate in detail how America sees its concepts of freedom and democracy established, examined and confirmed by three major wars: the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

Virginia: Birthplace of Presidents: Celebrate patriot heroes in the state that produced eight U.S. presidents. Examine the lives and times of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor and Wilson. Field trip to Wilson´s birthplace is a presidential experience!

Music and Times of Stephen Foster: Savor the stage and parlor music of this 19th century composer whose popular tunes reflected the sentiments of antebellum America. Live performances complement your study of the music and historical meaning of Stephen Foster's songs.

  • To see dates for this program, go to www.roadscholar.org. At that page, a box at upper-right contains the text "Keyword or Program #". Click in that box, then enter: 14350, then click Go. The listing for "Revolutionary America" should appear, with program dates on the right side of the screen. Other links for the program are at the center of the screen.

#17168: Born Under a Common Star: The Legacies of Lincoln and Darwin

Explore the lives and legacies of two men who were born on Feb. 12, 1809. Neither Abraham Lincoln nor Charles Darwin showed much promise in early life, yet both developed the compassion, courage and conviction of vision that transformed the world. Examine the character of one of our greatest presidents and the moral compass that guided him through war to reunification. See how evolution binds our understanding of biology as you view the history of life on earth. Celebrate Darwin´s first love - nature - as you take field trips to incomparable Natural Bridge Gorge, the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, the Nature Conservancy´s Warm Springs Mountain Preserve and Virginia´s "Switzerland" in the Alleghenies´ Highland County.

  • To see dates for this program, go to www.roadscholar.org. At that page, a box at upper-right contains the text "Keyword or Program #". Click in that box, then enter: 17168, then click Go. The listing for "Born Under a Common Star" should appear, with program dates on the right side of the screen. Other links for the program are at the center of the screen.

#10029: Autumn in the Blue Ridge: A Study of Her Natural History and Folklore

Explore nature´s way of sculpting this spectacular mountain setting. Investigate the dynamic forces that formed the Appalachian Mountains and Shenandoah Valley landscape. Study the web of life that developed between forests, meadows, flowers and wildlife. Learn about this home to birds, bears, and beavers, how early settlers related to their woodland setting, and what makes the fantastic fall colors of trees and shrubs. Explore how the wild frontier helped to shape the Shenandoah Valley's oral folklore, language, music, customs, folk medicine and its unique hero, "Jack." Your field trips - by coach and by foot, with an expert naturalist - include Natural Bridge Gorge, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Peaks of Otter.

  • To see dates for this program, go to www.roadscholar.org. At that page, a box at upper-right contains the text "Keyword or Program #". Click in that box, then enter: 10029, then click Go. The listing for "Autumn in the Blue Ridge" should appear, with program dates on the right side of the screen. Other links for the program are at the center of the screen.



Natural Bridge Inn


Bed rooom Lobby



Natural Bridge Inn




Tourism and Places of Interest in Virginia and near Natural Bridge:

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