Sunday, September 5, 2010

Natural Tunnel State Park

The tunnel found at Natural Tunnel State Park, just south of Duffield, VA, was once called the Eighth Wonder of the World by statesman William Jennings Bryan. The 850 foot long tunnel is wide enough for both Stock Creek and and a railroad line to fit through. The railroad was originally constructed in 1882 to carry coal from Southwest Virginia to Bristol, TN. The tracks soon accommodated a passenger line running from Bristol to Louisville, KY. While passenger service through the tunnel ceased in the 1940s, about 10 trains of coal a day continue to move through the tunnel today.

To descend to the gorge, visitors can either hike the quarter-mile Tunnel Trail or better yet, take the park's chairlift down. It's a steep and exciting ride with great views -- and a bargain for only $3 roundtrip. And while the tunnel is a fascinating formation, the 400 foot tall limestone cliffs encircling the tunnel gorge are just as spectacular. Another short trail leads to what is said to be the oldest home built in Scott County that has been reconstructed nearby. After a quick ride back to the top, I recommend taking the trail that leads around the edge of the cliff to a dizzying view known as lover's leap.

Also found in the park are a vistors center and museum, numerous other trails, campgrounds, cabin and lodge rentals, swimming pool and picnic areas.

Directions: Natural Tunnel State Park is in Scott County, about 13 miles north of Gate City, VA and 20 miles north of Kingsport, TN. Take I-26 west through Kingsport, which will turn into U.S. 23, passing through Weber City and Gate City. The turn-off to the park is at mile marker 17.4 on Rt. 23. Turn right and take Natural Tunnel Parkway about one mile east to park entrance. Click here to visit the official park website and to download a map of the park.


  1. I've seen lots of photos from Natural Tunnel, but that's the first one I've seen of the chair lift from inside the building. Refreshing to see something new. Thanks for posting.

  2. What an amazing place! That's definitely going on my "to do" list.


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