Natural Tunnel

Useful Information

Location: Scott County, 21 km N Gate City and 32 km N Kingsport, Tennessee.
I 81 exit 57, U.S. 23 north 32 km to Gate City, Rt 871 east 2 km to park entrance.
Open: Chairlift: May to Memorial Day weekends 10-17, Memorial Day to Labor Day weekdays 10-17, weekends 10-18, Labor Day to Nov weekends 10-17.
Fee: Chairlift: per person one way $1
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave Geologynatural bridge, Ordovician Chepultepec Limestone, cave ruin. TopicCaves Used as Road Tunnels
Dimension: L=260 m.
Address: Natural Tunnel State Park, Route 3, Box 250, Duffield, VA 24244-9361, +1-540-940-2674, Reservations: 1-800-933-PARK
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 203 Governor Street, Suite 213, Richmond, VA 23219.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


The Natural Tunnel, wood engraving 24x16 cm, 188o. Public Domain.
The cave was probably discovered by Daniel Boone.
1831 explored by Lt. Col. Stephen H. Long who published an article in a geology journal in 1832.
1890 the South Atlantic and Ohio Railroad arrived and laid tracks through the tunnel.
1906 Southern Railway acquired the tracks and created a passenger line, the Natural Tunnel Line, that went through the tunnel.
1967 acquired by the Commonwealth of Virginia from the Natural Tunnel Chasm and Caverns Corp.
1971 park opened.
1989 Natural Tunnel chairlift opened.


The Natural Tunnel is - as the name says - on one side a tunnel, used by the railroad, but on the other side a natural cave! It is rather rare to find a Geologynatural bridge, which is big enough to build anything inside. There are only half a dozen worldwide, which have a road built through. However this one has a railroad built through, which is absolutely unique.

The railroad was built in the era of the railroad, so the first time this was a passenger line. The times changed, and the railroad would have closed, if not large coal deposits had been discovered in the area. The trains continue to carry coal through Natural Tunnel until today.

William Jennings Bryan called this cave the "Eighth Wonder of the World". There are many eighth wonders on the world, but this one has attracted sightseers for more than 100 years.