railroad tracks leading into a cavern at natural tunnel state park in virginia Natural Tunnel State Park is located in the Appalachian Mountains near Duffield in Scott County. Only a 1 ½ hour drive from Knoxville, TN this public recreation area surrounds Natural Tunnel – a 10-story tall massive cave that was naturally carved through a limestone ridge over 1,000s of years.

The cave is so large that it became used as a railroad tunnel and is still used to this day for hauling coal. The walls of the tunnel contain fossils and show evidence of prehistoric life here.

The Virginia State Park also lies along the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail; he is said to have been the first white man to see the tunnel.

The Wilderness Historic Area has an interpretive center for guests to learn more, and the Wilderness Road Blockhouse shows how the blockhouse played a crucial role in the westward expansion of the nation during the 1700s.

Visitors to this state park enjoy exploring the trails and tunnel, riding the chairlift, camping, birdwatching and learning about the tunnel and area history.

Activities

During your visit to Natural Tunnel State Park you will have the opportunity to picnic, hike, learn, fish, swim and stay overnight. And while you’re here check out the visitor center gift shop and exhibits that focus on the history and geology inside the park. And enjoy one of the many musical programs offered throughout the year at the large amphitheater.

Also inside the park is Cove Ridge Center, a year-round facility with meeting rooms, educational resources and overnight dorm-style accommodations.

If you’re looking for somewhere unique to hold a special event consider having it at Natural Tunnel State Park. It’s also a popular wedding Cave Tours at Natural Tunnel State Park

View the Tunnel during your visit to the park. You can take a guided tour into the tunnel via Stock Creek, hike down using the Tunnel Trail or ride down on the chairlift.

Wild Cave tours are available between April 1 and October 31 (inquire at the visitor center) and once a year (on the 3rd Saturday in June) you can walk through the tunnel on the railroad tracks.

Chair Lift at Natural Tunnel State Park

A chairlift transports guests to a 500-ft boardwalk and observation deck at the mouth of the tunnel. Since 1989, this chairlift has allowed everyone who visits (during season) an opportunity to view the tunnel; Natural Tunnel State Park is the only state park in Virginia with a chairlift.

Swimming at Natural Tunnel State Park

Natural Tunnel State Park has a 5,400 square foot pool with a 100-ft slide that is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day and free for overnight guests (except group campers) to use. A snack bar, picnic area and large bathhouse are located nearby.

Boating at Natural Tunnel State Park

Guided canoe and kayak trips on the Clinch River are offered Saturdays and Sundays in season and weather permitting. The Clinch River is one of the most biodiverse rivers in North America.

Fishing at Natural Tunnel State Park

You can fish for trout in Stock Creek at several access points along the trails. And the Clinch River, about 5 miles from the park has excellent fishing for walleye, bass, musky, bluegill and red-eye.

Remember to pick up a fishing license ahead of time. You can purchase a Virginia freshwater fishing license locally or online. Children under 16 may fish without a license.

Trails at Natural Tunnel State Park

There are 7 hiking trails at Natural Tunnel State Park. Each trail leads to a unique feature inside the park through woodlands, wildflowers and past rocky creeks and streams. A few of the trails are also open for mountain bikes and bike rentals are available inside the park.

Here are a few of the more popular trails:

  • Lover’s Leap – An easy .6 mile trail that leads up to the fenced in overlook and stunning views of the tunnel ridge and mountains in the distance.
  • Tunnel Hill Trail – A moderate .8 mile trail that starts near the gift shop and descends the stairs to the railroad tunnel. This well maintained trail has many benches throughout for guests to catch their breath on the way back up.
  • Purchase Ridge Trail – A moderate 4.1 mile trail past wildflowers and up to the lookout at Purchase Ridge.
  • Carter Log Cabin – A short easy walk that leads to the 1784 log cabin near the creek. Carter Cabin is one of the oldest buildings in Scott County. There are a few places along this trail where you can access the creek.

Wildlife Viewing at Natural Tunnel State Park

Because of the diverse fauna and flora many species of wildlife may be seen along the trails, near the tunnel and throughout the park. And the park lies along the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail so many native and migrating birds are in the area. Some you may see are herons, blackbirds, cardinals, swallows, killdeer, eastern meadowlark and indigo bunting.

Butterflies and dragonflies are a common sight among the wildflowers during the warmer months. And squirrels, deer, rabbits and wild turkeys live in the wooded areas and may be seen along the trails.

Camping at Natural Tunnel State Park

Natural Tunnel State Park has many choices for overnight accommodations including tent and RV camping, primitive camping, yurts, cabins, a lodge and the dorm that sleeps up to 48 at the Cove Ridge Center.

The camping season runs from the first Friday in March through the first Monday in December; cabins, the lodge and Cove Ridge are available year round.

E/W Campsites – Cove View Campground has 16 shaded and sunny sites for tents, RVs or pop ups up to 38 feet. All sites have water and 20- & 30-amp hookups.

Lover’s Leap Campground has 18 sites for tents, RVs or pop ups up to 50 feet with water and 20-, 30- & 50-amp hookups. Coin-operated laundry facilities are located in the bathhouse.

Primitive Camping – Primitive tent-only sites are located in a partially wooded area about a ½ mile from the main campgrounds and bathhouses.

Portable toilets and a water spigot is located near the site as well as a common area with covered picnic tables and a fire ring.

Yurts – The 4 yurts are located adjacent to the Cove View Campground area. The yurts are a cross between a tent and a cabin. Each sleeps 3 and has a dining table, chairs, sofa, large wooden deck, picnic table, a grill, fire ring and water spigot.

They don’t have electricity, heat or air conditioning; and no smoking, cooking or pets allowed inside. Bring your own linens and extra sleeping bags if needed.

Cabins – The park has 13 cabins located on the ridge with views of the mountains and access to the trails. Cabins have either 2 to 3 bedrooms (sleep 6 to 8) and fully equipped kitchens, combined dining and living room area with mission style rustic furniture plus an outside wraparound deck.

Cabins do not have a dishwasher, washer/dryer, telephone, tv or linens.

Lodge – The family sized lodge has 6 bedrooms (sleeps up to 16), 3 baths and an open floor plan kitchen, dining area and living room, all with comfortable mission style rustic furniture. They also each have a large front and back porch with a picnic table and grill.

Whether you stay in a cabin or lodge you will need to bring your own linens, pillows, warm blankets (it can get very chilly at night), food, dishwashing liquid, dish towels, coffee and filters, salt and pepper, bath towels and toiletries and activities such as board games, cards, magazines and books.

Pets at Natural Tunnel State Park

Pets are allowed inside the park but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet or in an enclosed area. Please clean up after your pet and do not leave them unattended at any time.

Pets can stay in the cabins or lodge for an additional fee.

Park Location

Natural Tunnel State Park
1420 Natural Tunnel Pkwy
Duffield, VA 24244
Phone: 276.940.2674

Website
Reservations

Map

Hours

Open Daily 8am – Dusk

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Natural Tunnel State Park: