Natural Tunnel State Park

1420 Natural Tunnel Pkwy., Duffield, VA 24244; Phone: 276-940-2674; Email: naturaltunnel@dcr.virginia.gov

Location of Natural Tunnel State Park in Virginia

About this park ...

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Latitude, 36.696984. Longitude, -82.738577.

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General Information

More than 850 feet long and as tall as a 10-story building, Natural Tunnel was naturally carved through a limestone ridge over thousands of years. William Jennings Bryan called it the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Other scenic features include a wide chasm between steep stone walls surrounded by several pinnacles, or "chimneys." Facilities include two campgrounds, cabins, picnic areas, an amphitheater, a visitor center, a camp store and a gift shop. You'll also find the Wilderness Road historic area, a swimming pool with a 100-foot slide and a chairlift to the tunnel floor. Guests enjoy cave tours and canoe trips on the Clinch River, as well as the Cove Ridge Center, which offers environmental education, conference facilities and overnight dorm accommodations. A camp store and kayak programs are new this year.

Hours

8 a.m. - dusk. Visitor center and chairlift 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Location

Natural Tunnel State Park is in Scott County, about 13 miles north of Gate City and 20 miles north of Kingsport, Tenn.. To get there, from I-81, take U.S. 23 North to Gate City (about 20 miles). The turn-off to the park is at mile marker 17.4 on Rt. 23. Take Natural Tunnel Parkway about one mile east to park entrance.

Its address is 1420 Natural Tunnel Parkway. Duffield, VA 24244-9361; Latitude, 36.696984. Longitude, -82.738577.

Drive Time: Northern Virginia, eight hours; Richmond, six hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, eight to nine hours; Roanoke, three and a half hours; Knoxville, Tenn., one and a half hours; Winston-Salem, N.C., three hours; Lexington, Ky., two and a half hours.

Park Size

950 acres. The tunnel is 850 feet long and 100 feet high inside.

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Cabins, camping

OVERNIGHT FACILITIES

Cabins, and Camping. For information on availability of overnight accommodations, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you can reserve online or call 1-800-933-PARK. Click here for park fees.

Visit a Flickr photoset of cabins at the park. Cabins vary. Dwellings may not match what's shown in the photos.

Click here for details on reservation cancellation and transfer policies. A fee is charged per pet per night for cabin stays.

Cabins

Lodge at Natural Tunnel State Park.Weekly rentals, which are required for these facilities during prime season, start on Saturday or Sunday. Prime season runs annually from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Guests who wish to stay less than a week during prime season may call 30 days prior to desired arrival date to see if there is vacancy for two-night minimum stay. During prime season, cabin rentals begin on either Saturday or Sunday. See below for details. The park has 10 cabins. There are no extra bed rentals. A two-night minimum stay is required outside of prime season. Cabins and lodges are open year-round and may be reserved up to 11 months in advance. Cabin check-in is 4 p.m., check-out is 10 a.m.

The cabins are on a mountain ridge offering mountain views and access to the park’s trails. Winter weather can vary here, so be sure to read policies regarding transferring and cancellation of cabin rentals because of inclement weather. Late arriving guests should phone the park to arrange check-in several days before arrival, if possible.

Cabins: During prime season, cabins 1 through 5 rent weekly starting on Sunday. Cabins 6, 7, 10 and 11 rent weekly starting on Saturday.

Cabins 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are two-bedroom frame cabins. They sleep up to six and have parking for two vehicles. The cabins have one queen bed and two sets of bunk beds (sleep four) in a second bedroom. No extra bed rentals.

Cabins 3 and 10 are three-bedroom frame cabins. Cabin 3 is accessible to the disabled. They sleep up to eight and have parking for three vehicles. The cabins have one queen bed, two twin beds in second bedroom and two sets of bunk beds (sleeps four) in third bedroom. No extra bed rentals.

Cabin 11 is a two-bedroom frame cabin. It is accessible to the disabled and sleeps up to four. The cabin has one queen bed and a set of bunk beds (sleeps two) in a second bedroom. No extra bed rentals.

  • Kitchen: Refrigerator, stove, coffeemaker, dishes, dishcloth, dish towels, silverware, cooking utensils, pots, pans, microwave oven, toaster, can opener, clock radio.
  • Bring food, dish detergent, extra dishcloths, coffee filters, coffee, salt and pepper, nonstick cooking spray, soap, extra bath towels, etc.
  • Bedrooms: Bed(s), nightstands, dresser, closet with hangers, clock radio. One set of bed linens are provided per bed, and one set of towels is provided per person. They are not changed daily. Additional linens are available for a fee. You may wish to bring a pillow and comforter.
  • All queen and twin beds have Tempur-Pedic® mattresses.
  • No dishwasher, phone, TV, washer or dryer.
  • Wrap-around deck; open porch with rocking chairs and end tables.
  • Air conditioning and heating.
  • A picnic table and a campfire grill are in the yard beside the cabin. Firewood is for sale at the campground host campsite by the road near the cabin area entrance.
  • Gas log fireplace.
  • Mission style rustic furniture.
  • No smoking.
  • Two vehicles are allowed for two-bedroom cabins and three vehicles are allowed for three-bedroom cabins. A daily parking fee is charged for additional vehicles. All vehicles and trailers must be parked in designated areas at the cabin.
  • Pets are allowed. There is an extra fee plus tax per night per pet.
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Only overnight guests are allowed in the park after 10 p.m.
  • The park has a junior Olympic-size swimming pool and 100-foot water slide. Each member of the rental party may get a pool pass. Passes are part of the registration packet. A pass is issued for each night of rental. The pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The last two weeks of August, it is open only on weekends. Refunds will not be made should the pool be unavailable. Swimming is free to overnight guests only when available.

Natural Tunnel has one six-bedroom lodge (LOD 09-SAT). During prime season, it is rented for week-long stays that start on Saturday.

Features:

  • Kitchen: Refrigerator, stove, coffeemaker, dishes, dishcloth, dish towels, silverware, cooking utensils, pots, pans, microwave oven, toaster, electric can opener and large dining table.
  • Bring food, dish detergent, extra dishcloths, coffee filters, coffee, salt and pepper, nonstick cooking spray, soap, board games, extra bath towels, etc. A washer and dryer are provided.
  • Bedrooms - Bed(s), nightstands, dresser, closet with hangers, clock radio. Two bedrooms have queen beds, two bedrooms each have two twin beds, and two bedrooms each have two sets of bunk beds. The queen and twin beds have Tempur-Pedic® mattresses. One set of linens is provided per bed, and one set of towels is provided per person. They are not changed daily. Additional linens are available for a fee. You may want to bring a own pillow and comforter.
  • No dishwasher, phone or TV.
  • Front and back decks have rocking chairs.
  • There are three bathrooms, two with shower-tub combo, one with an accessible shower.
  • Air conditioning and heating.
  • A picnic table and a campfire grill are in the yard beside the cabin. Firewood is for sale at the campground host campsite, which is by the road at the cabin area entrance.
  • Accessible to the disabled: kitchen, dining area, living room, two bedrooms and one bathroom.
  • There’s a gas log fireplace in the living room and gas grill on the deck.
  • Mission style rustic furniture.
  • Maximum occupancy is 16; no extra bed rentals.
  • Maximum six cars, including trailers, at the cabin. A daily parking fee is charged for additional vehicles. All vehicles must be parked in designated areas.
  • No smoking.
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Only overnight guests are allowed in the park after 10 p.m.
  • Pets are allowed. There is an extra fee, plus tax, per night per pet.
  • The park has a junior Olympic-size swimming pool and 100-foot water slide. Each member of the rental party may get a pool pass. Passes are part of the registration packet. A pass is issued for each night of rental. The pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The last two weeks of August, it is open only on weekends. Refunds will not be made should the pool be unavailable. Swimming is free to overnight guests only when available.

Camping

The park has two campgrounds, Cove View Campground and Lover’s Leap Campground. All sites have electricity and water (EW).

Cove View Campground - 16 electric-water hookup sites

  • Up to six people per site. The only exception is for immediate families of no more than two adults over 18 and their minors, all of whom must be under 18.
  • Each campsite has a campfire-ring grill and an extended-top picnic table.
  • Firewood and ice are sold at campground host site.
  • Two vehicles per campsite. There is additional parking by the bathhouse (an additional daily parking fee applies there).
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Only overnight guests are allowed in the park after 10 p.m. Guests visiting campers should park in the bathhouse parking area.
  • The park has a junior Olympic-size swimming pool and 100-foot water slide. Each member of the camper party may get a pool pass. Passes are part of the registration packet. A pass is issued for each night of rental. The pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The last two weeks of August, it is open only on weekends. Refunds will not be made should the pool be unavailable. Swimming is free to overnight guests only when available.

EW - Electric and Water Hookup Sites (001 EW – 016 EW). Shaded and sunny sites are for tents, pop-ups and RVs up to 38 feet. Electrical service is 20 and 30-amp. All sites are gravel pull-through with a grassy area and have a campfire-ring grill and a picnic table. A bathhouse with hot showers is at the end of the campground loop.

Lover’s Leap Campground - 18 electric-water hookup sites

  • Up to six persons are allowed per site. The only exception is for immediate family.
  • Each site has a campfire-ring grill and an extended-top picnic table.
  • Firewood and ice are sold at campground host site.
  • Two vehicles per campsite. There is additional parking by the bathhouse (an additional daily parking fee applies there).
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Only overnight guests are allowed in the park after 10 p.m. Guests visiting campers should park by the bathhouse and must pay the daily parking fee.
  • A volleyball net and horseshoe pits are in campground area.
  • The park has a junior Olympic-size swimming pool and 100-foot water slide. Each member of the camper party may get a pool pass. Passes are part of the registration packet. A pass is issued for each night of rental. The pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The last two weeks of August, it is open only on weekends. Refunds will not be made should the pool be unavailable. Swimming is free to overnight guests only when available.

EW - Electric and Water Hookup Sites (LL 01- LL 18). These sites are for tents, pop-ups and RV’s up to 50 feet. Electrical service is 20, 30 and 50-amp. All are back-in sites and have a campfire-ring grill, picnic table, lantern post and utility table. Campsite 9 is accessible to the disabled and is near the bathhouse. The site is not reserved strictly for those with disabilities. Because sites are assigned upon arrival, ask park personnel for this site when you get there. Tents and all other recreational equipment should be set up within the campsite’s boundaries. The campground bathhouse has showers, restrooms and a laundry facility.

Total camp sites in the park of each type: EW: 34

Group Site

Natural Tunnel's group site is in a partially wooded area about half a mile from main campgrounds and bathhouses. Parking is available at the site, but RV’s and camping units are not allowed.

Amenities

  • Five 15 ft. x 15 ft. tent pads. (Accommodates up to 30 people total, depending on tent size.)
  • Common area with fire ring.
  • Eating area with four picnic tables.
  • Camp tent suitable for group activities.
  • Utility building with electricity and lights suitable for storage or food prep (no cooking inside shed).
  • Parking for up to five vehicles. (Overflow parking available in main campground). No RV or camping trailer parking is available.
  • 30-amp electrical outlet.
  • Potable water spigot.
  • Two portable toilets. (No showers on site.)
  • Swimming for group campers is $1 per person.

 

Recreation

TRAILS

Hiking, mountain bike and self-guided trails - Natural Tunnel State Park has seven walking trails. The longest is 2.1 miles long. The trails lead to unique features of the park: the tunnel floor, Lover’s Leap, Tunnel Hill and Gorge Ridge. A 500-foot boardwalk and observation deck provide accessibility to guests with disabilities who may ride the chairlift, when operable, to the mouth of the tunnel. Most trails are open to mountain bikes.

Va. Outdoors sign

Visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of Natural Tunnel's trails.

SWIMMING

The pool at Natural Tunnel State Park.Complex includes a 5,400-square-foot pool, a large bathhouse, and a snack bar in the concession building. The pool is open daily from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Prior to mid-June, swimming may be available only on weekends, and the pool is closed on weekdays during the last two weeks of August. Click here for park fees. Except for group campers, swimming is free for cabin and camping guests. It cannot be guaranteed, however, should circumstances beyond the park's control require that swimming be closed. We do not give refunds for swimming to overnight guests under any circumstances.

FISHING, BOATING

There is limited fishing within the park along Stock Creek. Other trout streams also are near the park. The Clinch River, which is about five miles from the park, is known for a great variety of fish including, walleye, smallmouth bass, red-eye, bluegill and musky.

HORSES

Throughout the year, the Scott County Regional Horse Association sponsors shows at the Scott County Horse Park, which is about 15 miles from the park.

HUNTING

Nearby Jefferson National Forest has several areas open to public hunting.

Park Trail Guide

Click here for the park's trail guide.

Nearby Attractions

  • Scott County Park, nine-hole golf course, pro shop and picnic shelters. The golf course is in Gate City, Va., 12 miles south of the park.
  • A walking track and lit tennis courts are available free of charge at an elementary school in Duffield (five miles from the park via Rt. 58).
  • Carter’s Fold, birthplace of the famous Carter family (i.e., June Carter Cash, etc.) and includes country music, traditional bluegrass music every Saturday night; also a museum is open prior to show time. It's 20 miles from the park in Hiltons, Va. Click here for a schedule of performances.
  • Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, 60 miles from park and offers scenic and historic areas, hiking, camping and visitor center, open year-round, fees required.
  • Wilderness Road State Park is 55 miles west on Rt. 58. Wilderness Road illustrates the story of westward expansion in the late 1700s and has a replica of Martin's Station along the Daniel Boone Wilderness Road.
  • Breaks Interstate Park, two hours from park and called the Grand Canyon of the South, offers 1,600-foot gorge, pool, paddleboats, trails, fishing, visitor center, camping, cabins, whitewater rafting and restaurant.
  • Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium, 20 miles from park in Kingsport, Tenn., Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., two hours from park in Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
  • Rocky Mount Museum, 40 minutes from park.
  • The Southwest Virginia Historical Museum, 20 minutes from park in Big Stone Gap, Va., illustrates the early development of the area and features exhibits on the coal boom era.
  • Also visit the June Tolliver Playhouse, the seasonal outdoor performance of the musical adaptation of John Fox Jr.’s Trail of the Lonesome Pine, which is Virginia's "official outdoor drama," plus the John Fox Jr. Museum and the Harry Meader Coal Museum.
  • Bristol International Raceway, 45 minutes from park.
  • The High Knob Recreational Area in the Jefferson National Forest is in Norton, Va., about 45 minutes north of the park. The area offers hiking, picnicking, camping and fishing. Visitors to High Knob’s viewing area, which has an elevation of 4,223 feet, can there see five states on a clear day.
  • Bristol Caverns, 50 minutes from park.
  • South Holston Lake, one hour from park.
  • Steele Creek and Golf Course in Bristol.
  • The Lonesome Pine Country Club near Big Stone Gap.
  • The Crooked Road - Virginia Heritage Music Trail

Also be sure to visit Scott County's homepage.

Picnic Shelters

Natural Tunnel State Park has five picnic shelters - three small and two large - for rent. They can be rented from 8 a.m. - dusk (all day). The shelters are available from March 1 - Nov. 30. Parking and swimming fees are not included in shelter rental (see above for details). Click here for park fees.

Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee.

Shelter 1 (small): This shelter accommodates up to 40. It's about 225 feet from the parking area and 500 feet from the nearest restroom and is ill-suited for guests with disabilities. It has eight 6-foot tables, a 36 by 36-inch grill, a water fountain and an electrical outlet.

Shelter 2 (small): This shelter accommodates up to 40 and is well suited for kids as it's just over 300 feet away from the playground. It's about 150 feet from the parking area and 275 feet from the nearest restroom. It includes eight 6-foot tables, a 36 by 36-inch grill, a water fountain and an electrical outlet.

Shelter 3 (large - 30 by 40 feet): This shelter, which overlooks the valley, accommodates up to 100. It features horseshoe pits, swings nearby, portable toilet units, a water fountain-spigot, electrical outlets, 16 six-foot picnic tables, a deck with another six tables and a 36 by 36-inch grill. People and supplies can be ferried to and from the parking lot, which is about 150 feet away, however cars must afterwards return to the parking lot.

Shelter 4 (small): This shelter, built by the Manville Ruritan Club, is well-suited for those with disabilities. It comfortably accommodates up to 30. It features fixed tables designed for wheelchair accessibility. It's about 160 feet from the playground, 50 feet from the parking lot and 20 feet from the restroom. It includes a 36 by 36-inch grill.

Shelter 5 (large - 30 by 60 feet): This shelter, the park's largest, was built by the Duffield Lions Club and accommodates up to 150. There are 20 six-foot picnic tables, two "Texas style" grills, horseshoe pits, a water fountain, electrical outlets, a sand volleyball court and a 230-foot paved walkway, easing accessibility. It's 280 feet from the parking area, 230 feet from the volleyball court, 180 feet from the restroom and 390 feet from the playground. Caterers may use the shelter's back entrance but must arrange for such access with park staff beforehand.

Meeting Space and Facilities

MEETING FACILITIES

The park houses the Cove Ridge Center, a year-round day-use/overnight educational resource facility that incorporates educational principles and concepts within a natural resource environment. The center, which accommodates up to 100 for meetings and 48 overnight guests, features an auditorium, classroom, catering kitchen, resource library (complete with Internet access), observation deck, audiovisual equipment, great room with stone fireplace, dorm, after-hours swimming (in season and by reservation) and environmental education equipment.

The park also rents family lodges that may be use for small retreats and get-togethers.

VISITOR CENTER, GIFT SHOP

The visitor center is open daily, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on weekends, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It's open on weekends from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. in April, May, September and October. Except for a Christmas lighting, the center closes after the last weekend in October. Visitors are provided with information on the park and its programs along with the surrounding area’s attractions. The facility has restrooms available for public use. You'll also find a gift shop and exhibits on the history and geology of the park there.

The Wilderness Road Blockhouse and Visitor Center, an interpretive area next to the park's picnic area, illustrates the role the blockhouse played in the 1700s during westward expansion of the nation. Hours vary so please call the park for specific dates and times. The park lies along the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail driving tour; click here for more information about the tour.

RESTAURANT

None in the park; the nearest grocery store is in Duffield, about five miles from the park. Fast food restaurants are there as well. This park has a snack bar in season.

LAUNDRY

The Lover's Leap Campground restroom has a coin-operated laundry.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

The park houses the Cove Ridge Center.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Amphitheater - Located near the picnic area, the park’s amphitheater offers seating for approximately 4,000 people. The facility is ideal for many of the park’s interpretive programs and hosts a variety of musical programs throughout the year. Groups may reserve the amphitheater for a fee by calling the park at (276) 940-2674.

Chairlift - The Virginia State Park system has only one chairlift, and you'll find it at Natural Tunnel State Park. The lift runs seven days a week from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. It also runs on weekends from the first weekend in May through the last full weekend of October. Contact the park for hours of operation.

Other Info

ACCESSIBILITY:

  • The chairlift can be stopped at both terminals for loading and unloading passengers. Wheelchairs and walkers can be sent down in the chair with the individual or in the next chair. The park has a wheelchair at the lower terminal for public use should it be needed or in case the given motorized wheelchair is too heavy to load. Staff will provide assistance at this facility in loading and unloading physically challenged passengers. The boardwalk to the tunnel is level, and guests can wheel to the mouth of the tunnel. There is also an accessible pit toilet at the lower terminal building.
  • The visitor center and gift shop building is accessible. It is across from the chairlift upper terminal. Parking for the disabled is here as well, and accessible restrooms are provided in the breezeway of the visitor center.
  • Directly behind the visitor center is a hand-railed, asphalt, ramped walkway that goes to the main overlook above the Stock Creek Gorge and the mouth of Natural Tunnel. The overlook is approximately 200 yards from the visitor center parking area.
  • Cabins 3, 9, 10 and 11 are accessible.
  • All electric and water campsites are fairly level and can accommodate disabled guests. They are asphalt pull-through sites with grassy areas surrounding them. The campground bathhouse toilet stalls are accessible. The showers in the bathhouse limited access. There is a ramped entrance to the bathhouse.
  • One of two picnic area restrooms is accessible. It has accessible entry and stalls. This restroom is near shelter 4, which was built by the Manville Ruritan Club to be accessible to disabled guests. Shelter 4 has tables and level walkways meeting specifications for the disabled. Shelter 5 is large and adjacent to an accessible restroom and accessible from an asphalt ramp. There's a hand-railed walkway approximately 300 feet long. These shelters and restrooms are about 100 feet from a parking area with spots for the disabled.
  • The pool bathhouse and facility are accessible. The park has wheelchair accessible tables in the patio of the snack bar and a lift to lower guests from wheel chair into the pool.
  • The Cove Ridge Center is accessible. It has ramped entrances, accessible restrooms and accessible shower stalls in the dormitory portion of the center.
  • The park features a restored train engine display that has a wheelchair accessible ramp built into it. It is adjacent to the visitor center parking lot.
  • Although motorized vehicles are not permitted on park trails, electric wheelchairs and electric scooters that meet the federal definition for wheelchairs are allowed to enable people with disabilities to use the trails. Most trails in the park are, however, in mountainous terrain and ill-suited for their use.

NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS

Weather and river conditions permitting, guided canoe and kayak trips of the Clinch River are offered on Saturdays and Sundays in season. Trips to Natural Tunnel via Stock Creek are offered throughout summer. Wild Cave Tours are available from April 1 through Oct. 31. Groups of eight or more may schedule tours at other times. Reservations are required for these programs - call the park at (276) 940-1643 to make a reservation or for more information. Guided wildflower walks are offered in mid-April; guided bird watching hikes are offered in mid-May. Guided walks, campfire get-togethers, astronomy programs and various kids activities are also offered. Candlelight Series at Cove Ridge, monthly, January - April. Run the Tunnel, late April. Pickin' in the Park, select Sundays, June - August. Click here to view all parks' events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.

CONCESSIONS

Open seven days a week from Memorial Day weekend to mid-August. This includes snack bars at the pool and by the chairlift. The snack bar operates during normal pool hours and has several tables. Mountain bike rentals are available at the campground host campsite.

HISTORY

Natural Tunnel, called the Eighth Wonder of the World by William Jennings Bryan, has been attracting sightseers to the mountains of southwestern Virginia for more than 100 years. Today it is the focal point of Natural Tunnel State Park, a park which offers visitors not only spectacular sights but also swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking, a visitor center, an amphitheater and interpretive programs.

The creation of Natural Tunnel began more than a million years ago in the early glacial period when groundwater bearing carbonic acid percolated through crevices and slowly dissolved surrounding limestone and dolomite bedrock. Then, what is now Stock Creek was probably diverted underground to continue carving the tunnel slowly over many centuries. The walls of the tunnel show evidence of prehistoric life, and many fossils can be found in the creek bed and on tunnel walls.

Daniel Boone was probably among the first men of European descent to see the tunnel in that the tunnel lies along the original route he took westward. However, no one wrote of it until Lt. Col. Stephen H. Long explored the site in 1831 and published an article in a geology journal in 1832.

Natural Tunnel was first surveyed as a proposed route in 1852 via a branch line, the Virginia & Kentucky Railroad, from the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. Plans ceased because of the Civil War, and areas near the tunnel were instead mined for saltpeter. However, in 1890 the South Atlantic & Ohio (SA&O) Railroad opened the line from Bristol to Big Stone Gap (and shortly thereafter, Appalachia), Va. In 1899, the Virginia & Southwestern (V&SW) succeeded to the rights of the SA&O and promoted the line as "The Natural Tunnel Route." The Southern Railway purchased controlling rights in the V&SW in 1906 and operated the line under the V&SW name until 1916 when it was formally absorbed into the Southern system. Under Southern Railway's control, passenger service continued, including the famous "Lonesome Pine Special," until 1939. In 1982, Southern Railway and Norfolk & Western merged to become Norfolk Southern, the present line. Hauling coal has always been the lifeblood of the line, and currently CSX Corporation also has track rights, so visitors may see either line operating through the tunnel. The trains now carry only coal, and the number of trains per day depends on the coal market. Those interested in possibly hearing train radio communication as they approach the Natural Tunnel can tune a scanner to 160.950.

FRIENDS GROUP

The Cove Ridge Foundation has been instrumental in providing the support needed to host many special programs at Cove Ridge Center. The foundation is made up of cultural arts and education councils. Each council pursues programs that benefit the region. Click here to email the group.

MASTER PLAN

Master plans must be written for parks before they're built. The plans are updated at least once every five years thereafter. The plans cover the size, types, infrastructure and locations of facilities as well as the site's special features and resources. Three public meetings are held during the initial development of each plan. Click here for this park's master plan.

WILDLIFE

Virginia State Parks are great places to discover and reconnect with the wild world. Bring a camera and share your captures with the world. But please don't disturb or get too close to the animals. The park is, after all, their home. Here are a few recent natural encounters others have had at Natural Tunnel State Park.

View all wildlife encounter photos from Natural Tunnel State Park.

 

Upcoming Events

 
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Articles

If you missed Railroad Day at Natural Tunnel last year, you are going to get another chance on July 19th, 2014!
Bob McConnell is a natural choice for our Volunteer of the Month from Natural Tunnel State Park.
Women's Wellness Weekends are 5 years old!
Visitor Services Specialist Staci Martin reflects on updating her travel bucket list to include Virginia State Parks. Staci says hers includes: Live Local/Travel Local!

At a Glance

The pictographs directly below show park offerings. Mouse-over the image for a short text description or click here to view a legend in which each pictograph's meaning is expressed.
AmphitheaterBikingCabins, Family Lodges, Group LodgingCamp Store/Gift ShopCampgroundDump StationEnvironmental Education Center, Nature/Cultural Programs, Visitor CenterHikingLifeguards, PoolParking feePicnic Shelter Rentals, Picnic TablesPlaygroundsRestroomsShoreShowersSnack BarUniversally Accessible
Amphitheater, Biking, Cabins, Family Lodges, Group Lodging, Camp Store/Gift Shop, Campground, Dump Station, Environmental Education Center, Nature/Cultural Programs, Visitor Center, Hiking, Lifeguards, Pool, Parking fee, Picnic Shelter Rentals, Picnic Tables, Playgrounds, Restrooms, Shore, Showers, Snack Bar, Universally Accessible