History is more than just textbooks and dusty remains. Sometimes pieces of our natural past still exist in their original grandeur, seemingly sleeping in hidden nooks just waiting to be stumbled upon. In the secluded woods of Bankhead National Forest in Alabama, one such living piece of history still stands. The longest natural rock bridge east of the Rockies is nestled among the trees, dating back nearly 200 million years.
If you’re curious enough to wander from the well-worn path, Natural Bridge Park is where you want to go. A sign found at Bankhead National Forest tells us of the bridge’s origins and how it came to hold such a grand title.
The bridge started to take its form 200 million years ago in the Triassic Period when the sea eroded the sandstone, leaving behind veins of iron ore that hold it together. That eventually made this structure the lofty natural stone giant it is today.
Explorers can stand beneath the towering structure, watching the light filter through the gaps and imagining what may have passed beneath the stone in its many years of standing guard in the forest — it does date back to when dinosaurs dominated the land, after all.
There is even another rock formation in the area unofficially called the Stone Indian Head due to its likeness to a human profile.
The various hiking trails will take you through towering trees and rocky bluffs that are great for any fitness level. Make sure to take your time and rest at one of the picnic areas throughout the park, and admire the natural beauty and living history all around you.
Natural Bridge in Bankhead National Forest
Price: $3.50 park admission
Address: Co Rd 3500, Haleyville, AL
Why You Need To Go: Visit a piece of ancient history that's sitting right in the Alabama forest!
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