State Parks Solutions is an ongoing series of reports to help you find and plan low-cost, easy-on-the-gas-tank vacations with an emphasis on outdoors activities.

DUFFIELD, Va. (WFXR) — It may be one of the most beautiful places in Virginia, and one of the least known.

Natural Tunnel is a ten-story tall, 850-foot long cave formed in the rock of a ridge near Duffield in Scott County. It is surrounded by Natural Tunnel State Park.

“It’s a naturally formed tunnel through the ridge here,” explained Assistant Park Manager Ishmael Richardson. “When the railroad came through in the 1890s they put the track through the tunnel, which was easier than trying to go around the ridge or over the ridge. So, that worked out for the railroad and it’s still operating today.”

Because it is still used as an active railroad tunnel, access is restricted. However, the park does conduct walking and caving tours through the tunnel at select times.

Geologists say the tunnel was formed over the course of a million years by ground water percolating up and carving it out of the surrounding rock.

There are two ways to get down to the tunnel. Visitors can hike down a steep trail, or they can ride a chairlift.

The views are stunning.

The chairlift at Natural Tunnel State Park (Photo: George Noleff)

While the tunnel is the main attraction, it is not the only reason for visiting the park.

“When you get here you learn there is so much more to this park and so much more to do,” said Chief Ranger Chris Fritze. “Between our overnight amenities, our guided tours, our kayak trips, our cave trips, our canoe trips, there’s something for every family to do here.”

There is also quality fishing available in the nearby Clinch River. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources also stocks Stock Creek, which runs through the tunnel, with trout.

The area is also rich in history. The Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail runs through and near the park. It traces the path taken by explorer and settler Daniel Boone.

“You can feel the history as you walk through the area,” Fritze said. “You are able to feel it and know it.”

The Daniel Boone Interpretive Center is located at the park. It features a museum with frontier exhibits, a block house, and historians who often serve as reenactors.

Period reenactor Bob McConnell portrays Capt. John Blackmore (Photo: George Noleff)

Bob McConnell, who belongs to the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association, is one of them. He wears full period dress when he portrays Captain John Blackmore, one of the region’s early settlers.

McConnell says the story of the trail is the story of America: “Scots-Irish, Palatine Germans, and others came down the trail and on into Kentucky, and in the process, they blended their history, their heritage, their politics, their religion, their music, crafts, and guess what, they became Americans in the process.”