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NATURAL BRIDGE, VIRGINIA

Seasons of Beauty in the Blue Ridge: Natural Life, History, Folk Culture and Music

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VA

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Natural History

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Road Scholar
Program #10029RJ
6 Days | 5 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Active
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation Note
Field trip to Peaks of Otter goes through a mountain pass at approximately 4000 ft.

Equipment Requirements
Comfortable walking shoes for field trips.

Itinerary for May 10 — May 15, 2015

Expand all
Type: Hotel

Description: The Natural Bridge Hotel was built in 1965 and is the fourth hotel to occupy the site since 1834. Its immediate predecessor was luxurious in the "Old South" style, and the present hotel offers food and lodging that retains much of that regional flavor, even though today it leans more toward the economical than to the elegant. Since World War II, Natural Bridge has been more than just the hotel and famous Bridge: it has been a tourist resort with a number of attractions and a mid-20th century vacation-by-auto feeling. In that spirit, participants will have a pass for the length of the Road Scholar program to visit Natural Bridge, the Natural Bridge Gorge, the Native American village, and Natural Bridge Caverns. In January 2014 the hotel was purchased by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund, an affiliate of a Roanoke, Va. non-profit organization, and the new owner is undertaking extensive renovation of the facilities. Once the mortgage is paid, the Natural Bridge and most of the property (but not the hotel) will be deeded to the state of Virginia for a state park.

Contact info:
15 Appledore Lane
(US Route 11 at Va Route 130)
Natural Bridge, VA 24578 USA
phone: 800-533-1410
web: www.naturalbridgeva.com

Room amenities: TV with satellite connection, iron & ironing board, coffeepot, free wireless internet connection. Refrigerators in some rooms and available upon request.

Facility amenities: Air-conditioned. Free parking. Dining room, classrooms, and the Red Fox Lounge in hotel. Nearby are the Gift Shop, which contains snack bar; Natural Bridge Caverns; and a hiking trail to Natural Bridge, Cedar Creek Gorge, and the Native American village. Over 2014-15, new hiking trails are being installed, and the gift shop is gradually being converted from tourist trinkets to Virginia-made products and crafts.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Variable by season.
Advance registration required and stay is based on availability. Road Scholar rate varies by season.

Check in time: 4:00 PM


Day One: Sunday, May 10 - Arrival and Check-in / Program Registration / Wel...
Arrival and Check-in / Program Registration / Welcome Dinner / Orientation

Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 4:00 p.m.

Program Registration until 5:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: In the hotel’s Colonial Dining Room, enjoy a Chef’s selection, beginning with salad or soup, followed by an entrée and sides, and dessert. Beverage choices include coffee (regular or decaf). tea (iced or hot), water.

Evening: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have.

Indicated times are approximate; program activities and schedules may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will often be available during free time to accompany informal excursions, activities, or meals that have been excluded from the program cost. You are welcome to join if you like, with any associated costs on your own.

Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead.

Lodging: Natural Bridge Hotel

Meals Included: Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The Natural Bridge Hotel was built in 1965 and is the fourth hotel to occupy the site since 1834. Its immediate predecessor was luxurious in the "Old South" style, and the present hotel offers food and lodging that retains much of that regional flavor, even though today it leans more toward the economical than to the elegant. Since World War II, Natural Bridge has been more than just the hotel and famous Bridge: it has been a tourist resort with a number of attractions and a mid-20th century vacation-by-auto feeling. In that spirit, participants will have a pass for the length of the Road Scholar program to visit Natural Bridge, the Natural Bridge Gorge, the Native American village, and Natural Bridge Caverns. In January 2014 the hotel was purchased by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund, an affiliate of a Roanoke, Va. non-profit organization, and the new owner is undertaking extensive renovation of the facilities. Once the mortgage is paid, the Natural Bridge and most of the property (but not the hotel) will be deeded to the state of Virginia for a state park.

Contact info:
15 Appledore Lane
(US Route 11 at Va Route 130)
Natural Bridge, VA 24578 USA
phone: 800-533-1410
web: www.naturalbridgeva.com

Room amenities: TV with satellite connection, iron & ironing board, coffeepot, free wireless internet connection. Refrigerators in some rooms and available upon request.

Facility amenities: Air-conditioned. Free parking. Dining room, classrooms, and the Red Fox Lounge in hotel. Nearby are the Gift Shop, which contains snack bar; Natural Bridge Caverns; and a hiking trail to Natural Bridge, Cedar Creek Gorge, and the Native American village. Over 2014-15, new hiking trails are being installed, and the gift shop is gradually being converted from tourist trinkets to Virginia-made products and crafts.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Variable by season.
Advance registration required and stay is based on availability. Road Scholar rate varies by season.

Check in time: 4:00 PM


Day Two: Monday, May 11 - Natural History of the Blue Ridge Mountains / Nat...
Natural History of the Blue Ridge Mountains / Natural Bridge Gorge Field Trip / Natural Bridge in History and Legend

Breakfast: In the Colonial Dining Room, enjoy a breakfast buffet with selections such as scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, hot apples, grits, biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, French toast, oatmeal, fruit, baked goods, plus juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: A naturalist will join us at the hotel for our first lecture, a discussion of the Blue Ridge ecosystem. Part of the 1,200-mile Great Appalachian Valley that stretches from Alabama to Quebec, the Valley of Virginia (which includes the Blue Ridge) was formed as bedrock dissolved away, leaving many cliffs, sinkholes, and caverns. Our naturalist will introduce the biodiversity of the region, how the present day flora and fauna have changed over time, and how they continue to change to this day.

For our second class, we’ll be joined by the retired Park Service ranger who will accompany us on tomorrow’s field trip. He’ll recall his years on the Blue Ridge Parkway, including many things that only an experienced ranger could know.

Lunch: In the Colonial Dining Room, enjoy today’s Chef’s selection with soup or salad, make-your-own sandwiches, or a hot entrée and sides, plus coffee (regular or decaf). tea (iced or hot), water.

Afternoon: Wear your comfortable, broken-in walking shoes as we join our naturalist for a leisurely field trip through Natural Bridge Gorge. We’ll see the plants, birds, animals and geology of this unique location, which Thomas Jefferson called “one of the most sublime places on earth.” We'll walk to Lacey Falls, with stops to sit, listen, and take in the magnificent scenery. Learn about early human history at the working Monacan Indian Village, and then learn from our naturalist why the Lost River is "lost.” There's a lot to learn, see, and enjoy, even if you go only part of the way.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: A Virginia historian will present an overview of Natural Bridge in pictures, with insights into its place in history and legend.

Lodging: Natural Bridge Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The Natural Bridge Hotel was built in 1965 and is the fourth hotel to occupy the site since 1834. Its immediate predecessor was luxurious in the "Old South" style, and the present hotel offers food and lodging that retains much of that regional flavor, even though today it leans more toward the economical than to the elegant. Since World War II, Natural Bridge has been more than just the hotel and famous Bridge: it has been a tourist resort with a number of attractions and a mid-20th century vacation-by-auto feeling. In that spirit, participants will have a pass for the length of the Road Scholar program to visit Natural Bridge, the Natural Bridge Gorge, the Native American village, and Natural Bridge Caverns. In January 2014 the hotel was purchased by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund, an affiliate of a Roanoke, Va. non-profit organization, and the new owner is undertaking extensive renovation of the facilities. Once the mortgage is paid, the Natural Bridge and most of the property (but not the hotel) will be deeded to the state of Virginia for a state park.

Contact info:
15 Appledore Lane
(US Route 11 at Va Route 130)
Natural Bridge, VA 24578 USA
phone: 800-533-1410
web: www.naturalbridgeva.com

Room amenities: TV with satellite connection, iron & ironing board, coffeepot, free wireless internet connection. Refrigerators in some rooms and available upon request.

Facility amenities: Air-conditioned. Free parking. Dining room, classrooms, and the Red Fox Lounge in hotel. Nearby are the Gift Shop, which contains snack bar; Natural Bridge Caverns; and a hiking trail to Natural Bridge, Cedar Creek Gorge, and the Native American village. Over 2014-15, new hiking trails are being installed, and the gift shop is gradually being converted from tourist trinkets to Virginia-made products and crafts.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Variable by season.
Advance registration required and stay is based on availability. Road Scholar rate varies by season.

Check in time: 4:00 PM


Day Three: Tuesday, May 12 - Blue Ridge Parkway Field Trip / The Peaks of Otte...
Blue Ridge Parkway Field Trip / The Peaks of Otter / “Drama of Creation” Multi-Media Presentation at Natural Bridge

Note: Short hikes along rocky and uneven trails at stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board our bus with our retired Park Service ranger for a field trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway to the top of the mountain ridge we can see from our hotel. Expect spectacular views of the valley and the mountains! We’ll stop at several places for short hikes and overviews, as we make our way south towards the Peaks of Otter. Thomas Jefferson thought these three peaks were the tallest mountains in the then-young United States, and Virginia sent stones from the Peaks of Otter as its contribution to the Washington Monument.

Lunch: Along Blue Ridge Parkway, we’ll stop to have box lunches with a sandwich, side dish, fruit, cookie, and beverage.

Afternoon: Continuing our Blue Ridge Parkway field trip, there are several trails in the vicinity of the beautiful and distinctive Peaks of Otter: a nature trail, a one-mile hike around a picturesque lake, and a two-mile round trip hike that leads to a preserved farmstead. Because the inclines vary, we will select the hike most appropriate for the conditions.

At the end of the field trip, we’ll return to the hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: We’ll go together to see "Drama of Creation," a sound and light show at Natural Bridge that includes readings from the Bible, colored light projected on to the arch, and symphonic music. Tonight’s show is a recently upgraded version of the original presentation that first played here in 1927.

Lodging: Natural Bridge Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The Natural Bridge Hotel was built in 1965 and is the fourth hotel to occupy the site since 1834. Its immediate predecessor was luxurious in the "Old South" style, and the present hotel offers food and lodging that retains much of that regional flavor, even though today it leans more toward the economical than to the elegant. Since World War II, Natural Bridge has been more than just the hotel and famous Bridge: it has been a tourist resort with a number of attractions and a mid-20th century vacation-by-auto feeling. In that spirit, participants will have a pass for the length of the Road Scholar program to visit Natural Bridge, the Natural Bridge Gorge, the Native American village, and Natural Bridge Caverns. In January 2014 the hotel was purchased by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund, an affiliate of a Roanoke, Va. non-profit organization, and the new owner is undertaking extensive renovation of the facilities. Once the mortgage is paid, the Natural Bridge and most of the property (but not the hotel) will be deeded to the state of Virginia for a state park.

Contact info:
15 Appledore Lane
(US Route 11 at Va Route 130)
Natural Bridge, VA 24578 USA
phone: 800-533-1410
web: www.naturalbridgeva.com

Room amenities: TV with satellite connection, iron & ironing board, coffeepot, free wireless internet connection. Refrigerators in some rooms and available upon request.

Facility amenities: Air-conditioned. Free parking. Dining room, classrooms, and the Red Fox Lounge in hotel. Nearby are the Gift Shop, which contains snack bar; Natural Bridge Caverns; and a hiking trail to Natural Bridge, Cedar Creek Gorge, and the Native American village. Over 2014-15, new hiking trails are being installed, and the gift shop is gradually being converted from tourist trinkets to Virginia-made products and crafts.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Variable by season.
Advance registration required and stay is based on availability. Road Scholar rate varies by season.

Check in time: 4:00 PM


Day Four: Wednesday, May 13 - Native Americans and Folk Culture Through the Age...
Native Americans and Folk Culture Through the Ages / Free Afternoon / The Blue Ridge Through an Artist’s Eyes

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: The manager of the Nature Bridge Indian Village will present a class on the Monacans, the Native Americans who call this section of the Blue Ridge home. Our class continues with a look at Blue Ridge folk culture as it evolved from the early European pioneers and then newer waves of settlers.

Lunch: In the hotel.

Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You might choose to explore the nearby town of Lexington, or any of a number of local sites.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: A local expert will share insights into the career of Edward Beyer, a 19th century painter and lithographer from Germany whose almost-photographic views of the Blue Ridge remain a standard for art of the region to this day

Lodging: Natural Bridge Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The Natural Bridge Hotel was built in 1965 and is the fourth hotel to occupy the site since 1834. Its immediate predecessor was luxurious in the "Old South" style, and the present hotel offers food and lodging that retains much of that regional flavor, even though today it leans more toward the economical than to the elegant. Since World War II, Natural Bridge has been more than just the hotel and famous Bridge: it has been a tourist resort with a number of attractions and a mid-20th century vacation-by-auto feeling. In that spirit, participants will have a pass for the length of the Road Scholar program to visit Natural Bridge, the Natural Bridge Gorge, the Native American village, and Natural Bridge Caverns. In January 2014 the hotel was purchased by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund, an affiliate of a Roanoke, Va. non-profit organization, and the new owner is undertaking extensive renovation of the facilities. Once the mortgage is paid, the Natural Bridge and most of the property (but not the hotel) will be deeded to the state of Virginia for a state park.

Contact info:
15 Appledore Lane
(US Route 11 at Va Route 130)
Natural Bridge, VA 24578 USA
phone: 800-533-1410
web: www.naturalbridgeva.com

Room amenities: TV with satellite connection, iron & ironing board, coffeepot, free wireless internet connection. Refrigerators in some rooms and available upon request.

Facility amenities: Air-conditioned. Free parking. Dining room, classrooms, and the Red Fox Lounge in hotel. Nearby are the Gift Shop, which contains snack bar; Natural Bridge Caverns; and a hiking trail to Natural Bridge, Cedar Creek Gorge, and the Native American village. Over 2014-15, new hiking trails are being installed, and the gift shop is gradually being converted from tourist trinkets to Virginia-made products and crafts.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Variable by season.
Advance registration required and stay is based on availability. Road Scholar rate varies by season.

Check in time: 4:00 PM


Day Five: Thursday, May 14 - Goshen Pass Field Trip to Jefferson Pools / River...
Goshen Pass Field Trip to Jefferson Pools / Riverside Hike / Live Performance of Music of the Blue Ridge

Note: Bring a bathing suit if you wish to dip into Jefferson Pools (towels provided).

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Our field trip today has an early start. We’ll take our bus to the Alleghanies, the mountains that form the western wall of the Great Valley, to visit a special historical site. Through Lexington and then the scenic Goshen Pass, we’ll make our way to Warm Springs and Jefferson Pools, the oldest mineral baths in the United States. The structure housing the pools dates back to 1761.

And we’re not just going to look at these naturally warm spring-fed mineral baths – we’re getting in, for an hour-long soak. The pools are named after Thomas Jefferson, who spent 22 days here in 1818, when he was 75 years old. Once we’re dried off and changed, we'll head back to Goshen Pass.

Lunch: At a picnic area in Goshen Pass, we’ll stop for box lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll hop back on our bus and return through Goshen Pass, where we’ll stop for a one-mile hike that winds along the Maury River.

After returning to the hotel, we’ll arrive in time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Iin the hotel.

Evening: Enjoy a relaxing and delightful evening of music with the McKenzies, who play a mix of popular musical hits from the 1800s, newer songs from the folk tradition, and originals, all with a Blue Ridge theme.

Lodging: Natural Bridge Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Six: Friday, May 15 - Folk Traditions of the Blue Ridge / Birds of the ...
Folk Traditions of the Blue Ridge / Birds of the Valley of Virginia / Program Concludes

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: For our program’s final classes, a local expert will talk about the folk traditions of the Blue Ridge and the region’s distinctive culture, followed by a presentation about birds and birding in the Valley of Virginia.

Lunch: In the hotel. This concludes our program.

We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
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Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
5 nights of accommodations
15 meals: 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
8 Expert-led lectures
5 Field trips
1 Hands-on experiences
2 Performances

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4
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