A Jefferson connection to the Blue Ridge Parkway

A short drive from Lynchburg, Natural Bridge, once owned by Thomas Jefferson and is considered one of the great Natural Wonders of the World.  Enjoy the splendor of this magnificent Natural Historic Landmark and its other onsite activities including caverns, waterfalls and trails.  

Next your bus departs for a drive on The Blue Ridge Parkway which crosses the James River between Natural Bridge and Lynchburg.  This trip will transport you to the legendary Peaks of Otter.  These mountains were once thought to be the highest in America until the Lewis and Clark Expedition proved much higher mountains to the west.  Jefferson measured Sharp Top, one of the three peaks that comprise the Peaks of Otter.  You can enjoy a meal at the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant and ride a shuttle mid-way up Sharp Top and, if you have the energy, you can hike the remainder of the way to the top for magnificent views.

After leaving the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will visit one of two large orchards at the base of Sharp Top. Gross’s Orchards is known for their peaches and apples and they operate Mountain Produce on Route 43 that has delicious home-made peach ice cream made with their fruit.  Thomas Jefferson helped to popularize ice cream in America by serving it multiple times at dinners in The President’s House (now known as The White House) during his presidency.

A stop at Johnson’s Orchards and the Peaks of Otter Winery is available and offer wine tastings and fresh fruit for sale grown in their orchards. The Johnson family has been growing apples in Bedford County since the 1700s!