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The Amazing Natural Chimneys of Virginia

Every guest to Meadowlark Ridge should plan on making a visit to Natural Chimneys. When I was growing up, we always talked about the Natural Wonders of Virginia – Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge and Natural Chimneys. They put Mt. Solon on the map!

The Natural Chimneys are stone towers rising from the ancient river bottom.
The amazing Natural Chimneys, photo by Don H.

The chimneys, or “Cyclopean Towers,” are seven towers of stone revealing 500 million years of geologic history. Once the bottom of a great inland sea, layers of sediment accumulated to eventually be compacted to form limestone, which makes up most of the Shenandoah Valley and its caverns. Fossils can be found embedded in the rock and there is even a layer of lava from a nearby volcano.

The chimneys are capped in chert, a hard dark stone resistant to erosion.

Water was a powerful force in creating the chimneys dissolving and depositing minerals throughout the stone. The nearby North River created a spectacular flat riverbed above which the chimneys rise 65 to 120 feet. The tops of the chimneys are capped with chert, a hard dark stone which kept them from eroding over the years. All of this is to say, they really are an amazing sight to see.

Natural Chimneys in winter
The Chimneys in winter, photo by Ryan D.

But Natural Chimneys is also famous as the site of the oldest continuously-held sporting event in the America – an annual jousting tournament. It is the site of the National Jousting Tournament Hall of Fame. This reportedly started in 1821 when two suitors held a jousting match to win the hand of a maiden.

Jousting lance capturing two rings
Capturing the jousting rings, photo by Ryan D.

These days, Natural Chimneys is most famous across the country as the site of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival. The event, taking place this weekend, features 50+ bands on five stages for three days of music, food and other activities. It’s always a sellout for both the festival and Meadowlark Ridge.

View from the top of Natural Chimneys
View from the top, by one of our guests, Kenny O.

For locals, Natural Chimneys is a county park with camping and a swimming pool. Guests at Meadowlark Ridge can enjoy the pool for a break from hot weather. So, book a stay soon at Meadowlark Ridge and plan to visit this Natural Wonder of Virginia.

View of Allegheny Mountains from the top of Natural Chimneys
View from the top by Ryan D.


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