Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County Up for Sale

Rockbridge Co., VA - Natural Bridge, one of the largest tourist attractions in Rockbridge County, is back on the market.

The owner hopes to have the property sold by the end of the year.

The property is being divided and listed by tracts, meaning that a potential buyer could purchase the bridge itself, the hotel, the wax museum, or all of them together. The management company says selling each piece of real estate separately allows them to be more flexible.

It isn't your typical real estate listing: A 500-million-year-old, limestone arch, furnished with a wax museum, gift shop and 150-room hotel.

Dan LeBlanc is president of Cape Leisure Corporation, the company that manages Natural Bridge and its 150 employees. He says the current owner, an 88-year-old Washington D.C. businessman, is hoping to sell the property before he retires.

"Nobody is going to want to purchase the bridge and not want to continue to operate the bridge and keep it open to the public."

The entire property was on the market in 2007 but failed to sell for the $39 million asking price.

Time's taken its toll on many of the old buildings. LeBlanc says in the last four or five years, admission sales have been flat, and the June Derecho made matters even worse.

"You couldn't have picked a worse time from a tourism standpoint. We had no power here for two weeks," LeBlanc explained.

Roughly 200,000 people from all over the world come to see Natural Bridge every year. It's a historic property once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Stephen Whitcomb and his wife came all the way from California.

"I'm lovin' it. It's amazing what nature does here," Whitcomb said, looking off at the bridge behind him.

And despite the sale, $100,000 worth of improvements to the light show are moving forward. An arcade and playground opened just last week.

"Natural Bridge is open for business. We're expecting a great summer with the new attractions we're bringing online and even better things next year," LeBlanc added.

The owners would love to see the National Park Service or the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation buy the bridge and make it a national or state park.

The director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, happens to be from Lexington and used to work at Natural Bridge as a teen.