What’s 148 feet long, 60 feet high and found east of the Rocky Mountains in northwest Alabama?
A magnificent geologic formation called a natural bridge.
Carved by an ancient underground river, it is the centerpiece of Natural Bridge Park in Natural Bridge, Alabama. Made of sandstone and iron ore, this masterpiece dates back 200 million years and was once the territory of the Creek Native Americans. Though now a privately owned backroad destination, this area was also used by Civil War soldiers as foot trails.
This natural wonder sets the stage for an amazing range of plant species, including the impressive bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla), evergreen eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), vibrant yellow root (Xanthorhiza simplicissima), an unusual orchid called rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens), and a number of mosses and ferns commonly found in more mountainous regions.
Natural Bridge Park is not the only one of its kind. It is, however, the longest land bridge east of the Rocky Mountains. Over 2,000 natural arches are found in the United States, though the longest arch is found above the Buliu River in Guangxi, China, spanning 400 feet in length. Natural bridges are a type of natural arch formed primarily by the movement of water. Formation of natural bridges and arches are influenced by a variety of factors including water movement, temperature change, tectonic plate movement, past glacial movement and rock collapse.
The Earth has created a work of art in Natural Bridge, Alabama which is filled with far more wonder than words can describe. I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood. It’s a great picnic area with gorgeous scenery! Perhaps you’ll be as fortunate as I, and have a personable, four-legged guide named Roxie to show you the best spots! Meanwhile I’ll be planning my return trip to the longest land bridge east of the Rocky Mountains. Won’t you join me?