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Rye Cove

Natural Tunnel

Rye Cove is one of the premier karst areas in Virginia. The term “karst” is used to describe a landscape that contains numerous caves, underground waterways, rock outcroppings and sinkholes. This landscape has given rise to the world famous Natural Tunnel that lies just west of Rye Cove. The caves underlying the area are also home to a globally rare cave isopod called the Rye Cove Isopod.

Stop by Rye Cove Intermediate School Nature Center on the Daniel Boone Birding Trail to learn more about the natural history of this terrain.

The name Rye Cove refers to the native prairie grasses found here in the 18th century. Rye-Cove-fieldThis grassy cove played a major part in the westward expansion of the nation, with many travelers passing through Rye Cove on the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail starting in 1775.


On May 2, 1929 tragedy hit Rye Cove when a rare tornado destroyed the Rye Cove High School. Thirteen people lost their lives that day, twelve students and one teacher. Many of the dead and injured were carried to nearby houses and barns for care. One such house is known as the Red Cross Building and stands today on the grounds of the Rye Cove Intermediate School. This tragedy was captured by the famous Carter Family through the song entitled “The Cyclone of Rye Cove.