The state acquired the tunnel and 100 surrounding acres in 1967 from the Natural Tunnel Chasm and Caverns Corp. to establish Natural Tunnel State Park. Another 850 acres were later acquired, and the park opened in 1971. A modern meeting facility, the Cove Ridge Center, lies within the park. It came about thanks to a unique collaboration between the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Cove Ridge Foundation. Natural TunnelNatural 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.
Michael S. on Carter Log Cabin
Easy, nice scenery!
This was the trail that rekindled my love for the outdoors. It's a short, but very rewarding trail. Lots of good views of the river and tunnel and if you're lucky, you'll see a train pass through. It's 0.7 one way so it's 1.5ish out and back. Absolutely beautiful!
The Purchase Ridge trail is what I would consider a moderate trail. The many switchbacks keep it from being difficult, but make no mistake, it is, in some places, very steep. The lookout has the potential to be an amazing view, however, after years of forest growth, almost none of the canyon wall and absolutely none of the canyon floor is visible. Only a narrow window to the canyon can be visualized. On the upside, however, the area is quiet and very secluded. I only met two people, a biker and a runner, and that was on the way back. The growing things along the trail make it well worth the trip if you are, as I am, a photographer. But if the view is what you are looking for, you'll be better off going only as high as Lover's Leap. Lover's Leap is, without question, the best view of the canyon wall and a small bit of the canyon floor. The only place you can see both. I was lucky enough to catch a train coming through on the way back down from Purchase Ridge.