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The natural wonders of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains provide some of the finest views and most striking landscapes in the entire world.
The stunning beauty of the Roanoke Valley, combined with a local culture that celebrates experiencing and preserving its natural resources is a significant reason why visitors from around the globe visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge every year.
1. Natural Bridge
Considering Virginia’s Natural Bridge appeared in many of the first “Natural Wonders of the World” lists published in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it’s certainly deserving of a spot on our list of natural wonders in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Once owned by Thomas Jefferson and surveyed by a young George Washington, this unique geological formation features a rich history in American culture. The iconic natural arch caps 215 feet high rock walls, spanning 90 feet across the gorge in the terrain.
Once deemed the “Bridge of God” by the Monacan tribe of Native Americans who discovered it, visitors of all ages can stand beneath the striking structure and enjoy a day filled with memorable experiences inside the adjoining Virginia’s Natural Bridge Park & Historic Hotel.
2. Dragon’s Tooth
Located a short drive from downtown Roanoke, Dragon’s Tooth sits high atop Cove Mountain along the Appalachian Trail and is one of the best hikes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Conquer the final bouldering towards the end of the challenging 2.3 mile climb to the top and you’re rewarded with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains. As you take in the views, you’ll find yourself standing at the base of “The Tooth” – a 35-foot rock spire that’s part of a large jumble of rock outcroppings at the summit.
3. McAfee Knob
As one of the most photographed overlooks along the Appalachian Trail and the most popular hiking trail in the region, McAfee Knob is on the bucket lists of many who visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
The unique shape and structure of the ledge on the Knob offers hikers the opportunity for spectacular photos that highlight them standing, sitting, and lying on the edge of a mountain.
The hike to McAfee Knob is approximately 8.5 miles roundtrip, but the open space at the top offers a beautiful backdrop for a picnic. What a great way to spend a Blue Ridge Day!
4. Roaring Run
Roaring Run Falls is one of the most accessible natural wonders of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. A leisurely, family-friendly hike winds along the edge of Roaring Run Creek before leading to the beautiful Roaring Run Falls.
The 1.5 mile loop trail in Botetourt County also provides the opportunity to see the 19th century iron ore furnace that is on the National Register of Historic Places and a natural water slide approximately half way down the trail.
5. Sharp Top Mountain – Peaks of Otter
A visit to the 3,875 foot summit of Sharp Top Mountain at the Peaks of Otter provides one of the most breathtaking views you’ll find anywhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 360-degree view features the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Abbott Lake at the base of the mountain, the Blue Ridge Parkway winding its way through the area, and scenic mountains on the horizon.
It’s a strenuous 3.5 mile round-trip hike to the summit, but there are multiple overlooks along the way to catch your breath. The Peaks of Otter Lodge also offers a seasonal shuttle that brings visitors within 1,500 feet of the top of the mountain. The view from Sharp Top Mountain is also featured in the image at the top of this article.
6. Cascade Falls
Have your camera ready for the moment you get your first glimpse of Cascade Falls. The 69-foot waterfall, framed by 200-foot cliff walls, is one of the most stunning sites in the region and a favorite spot among locals and visitors alike.
The falls, which are beautiful in any season, can be reached via the well-marked Cascades National Scenic Trail that guides you on the 4-mile round-trip hike.
7. Devil’s Marbleyard
Ready to redefine rock climbing? Devil’s Marbleyard is a boulder field unlike any you have ever seen. The boulders, some as big as trucks, are located along the Belfast Trail near Natural Bridge Station.
Standing among the rocks provides hikers the opportunity to enjoy gorgeous mountain vistas.
The Antietam Quartzite rocks were formed over millions of years as erosion and ice crystals helped shape the terrain and mountainside into what has become this unique geological space.
The Marbleyard is a challenging trail and climbing among the rocks can be treacherous, but it’s also one of the most unique and rewarding hikes in the region.