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Luray Caverns: More Than a Cave

Updated on June 3, 2020
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Formation at Luray Caverns, VA.A stalactite and a stalagmite almost forming a column.  Luray Caverns, VA A reflecting pool that gives the illusion it's much deeper than it is.  Luray Caverns, VAA reflecting pool that gives the illusion it's much deeper than it is.  Luray Caverns, VAStalagmites in the foreground, Luray Caverns, VA A double column, Luray Caverns, VALuray Caverns, VA
Formation at Luray Caverns, VA.
Formation at Luray Caverns, VA. | Source
A stalactite and a stalagmite almost forming a column.  Luray Caverns, VA
A stalactite and a stalagmite almost forming a column. Luray Caverns, VA | Source
A reflecting pool that gives the illusion it's much deeper than it is.  Luray Caverns, VA
A reflecting pool that gives the illusion it's much deeper than it is. Luray Caverns, VA | Source
A reflecting pool that gives the illusion it's much deeper than it is.  Luray Caverns, VA
A reflecting pool that gives the illusion it's much deeper than it is. Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Stalagmites in the foreground, Luray Caverns, VA
Stalagmites in the foreground, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
A double column, Luray Caverns, VA
A double column, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Luray Caverns, VA
Luray Caverns, VA | Source

Travelogue Information

Luray Caverns is the largest caverns in the eastern United States. It also has the most visitors of any caverns in the eastern United States. The tour route is 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) and takes about 40 minutes.[i] The law prohibits touching active rock formations. Leashed pets are allowed on the grounds outside. Guests are allowed to carry small pets on the tour. Small strollers are recommended for those who want to use strollers.[ii]

Luray Caverns is normally open every day. Tickets to the caverns are $30 for those 13-years-old and over. The tickets for children, 6-12 years-old are $15. Admission is free for children 5 and under. There are separate tickets for the Rope Adventure Park, $11, and the Garden Maze, $10. There is a walkway into the caverns and the tour route is paved. The entrance will accommodate wheelchairs but Luray Caverns isn’t considered handicapped accessible.[iii]

Luray Caverns is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Washington, DC. After leaving the Washington metropolitan area getting to Luray Caverns is a nice drive in the country. The scenery helps make a visit to Luray Caverns a pleasant day tip from the Washington DC metropolitan area.


[i] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/, last accessed 5/23/2020.

[ii] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/visit-us/, last accessed 5/24/2020.

[iii] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/, last accessed 5/23/2020.

The Caverns

The walkway into the caverns is an excellent addition. Before this addition the entrance to the caverns required a long climb down a staircase and a climb up a long staircase to exit the caverns. The staircases meant many couldn’t go into the caverns. Some who made the visit wished they hadn’t because of the step climbing.

The last major earthquake in eastern America occurred 7,000 years ago. A 170-ton stalactite fell from the ceiling in the quake. It was the last item to fall inside the caverns. The tallest formation in the caverns is a 47-foot (14.33 m) double column.[i]

In a room dubbed “The Cathedral” there is the Great Stalacpipe Organ. In the 1950s Leland W. Sprinkle spent several years tapping on stalactites to see which ones would give an appropriate organ sound. He rigged rubber mallets so they would strike the appropriate stalactite. The organ can be played automatically or manually. The organ is only played manually on special occasions. Luray Caverns is very proud of this largest of all musical instruments. On tours they play a tune such as “Shenandoah”. If there is a large group the noise makes it difficult to distinguish the sound. People who look carefully can see the mallets striking the stalactites.


[i] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://www.youtube.com/embed/0Bvx8-kdVrk?autoplay=1&rel=0, last accessed 5/27/2020.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A 1930 Cord at Luray Caverns, VAPosters, mannequins, and other artifacts give more of a feel for the era of the antique cars, Luray Caverns, VACar and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VACar and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VACar and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VACar and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VACar and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VAA 1930 Cord.Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VACar and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VAAn antique baby carriage.19th century carriage, Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VAAn antique bicycle.18th century carriage, Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
A 1930 Cord at Luray Caverns, VA
A 1930 Cord at Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Posters, mannequins, and other artifacts give more of a feel for the era of the antique cars, Luray Caverns, VA
Posters, mannequins, and other artifacts give more of a feel for the era of the antique cars, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
A 1930 Cord.
A 1930 Cord. | Source
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
An antique baby carriage.
An antique baby carriage. | Source
19th century carriage, Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
19th century carriage, Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source
An antique bicycle.
An antique bicycle. | Source
18th century carriage, Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA
18th century carriage, Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Caverns, VA | Source

Included with the Caverns Ticket

The Shenandoah Heritage Village includes a museum which has artifacts from pre-Columbian times to the 1920s. There is a 7-acre (2.8ha) recreation of a 19th century Virginia farming community. Among the historic items are the signatures of soldiers from both sides of the Civil War. These signatures were written on the walls of the Elk Run Dunkard Church.[i]

Toy Town Junction contains Dr. Richard Worden toy collection. Dr. Worden began his collection when he was 5-years-old in 1941. His parents gave him a toy train set from a Montgomery Ward catalog. Over the years he added many trains and toys to his collection.[ii]

The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum has a large collection of antique cars and carriages. The carriages range from baby carriages to coaches for royalty. The collection includes a 19th century Mercedes-Benz and a 1908 Baker Electric. Rudolph Valentino’s 1925 Rolls Royce shows the glamour of 1920’s Hollywood.[iii] There are also modest vehicles that give a picture of transportation in bygone eras.


[i] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/attractions/shenandoah-heritage-village/, last accessed 5/30/2020.

[ii] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/attractions/toy-town-junction/, last accessed 5/30/2020.

[iii] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/attractions/the-car-carriage-caravan-museum/, last accessed 5/30/2020.

Not Included with the Caverns Ticket

The Garden Maze has over 1,500 evergreen hedges that form a ½ mile (1 km) pathway. There are diverges at over 40 points. The maze is handicapped accessible and is suitable for baby strollers.[i]

The Rope Adventure Park has two levels of rope courses. These courses have poles connected by acrobatic elements. The low ropes course is close to the ground and ideal for younger guests. The high rope course is higher and more challenging.[ii]


[i] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/attractions/the-garden-maze/, last accessed 5/30/2020.

[ii] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/attractions/adventure-ropes-course/, last accessed 5/30/2020.

Other Features

The Belle Brown Northcott Memorial is a carillon that is 117 feet (36 meters) high and has 47 bells. This carillon was built in 1937. The carillon has recitals from spring to fall. It is opposite Luray Caverns.[i]

The Caverns has a large gift shop. There is a fast food and a Bistro-style restaurant. There are also tastings of the local wines on the weekends in the fall.[ii]


[i] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/attractions/luray-singing-tower/, last accessed 5/30/2020.

[ii] Luray Caverns Official Website, https://luraycaverns.com/attractions/heartpine-stalactite-cafes/, last accessed 5/30/2020.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Robert Sacchi

Comments

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    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Glad i could take you down memory lane. I know there are caverns in Pennsylvania. I've seen the road signs on my way to Hershey Park.

    • Abby Slutsky profile image

      Abby Slutsky 

      12 months ago from America

      I was there as a kid. This brought back memories.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad you found it informative.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      12 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Very informative. Thanks.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      Thank you for reading. Dulles IAP is in the suburbs. It's not far from rural Virginia and West Virginia. Many of the places I've written Hubs about are within a relatively small area.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      If we ever travel up in that direction, we will put Luray Caverns on our list of places to enjoy along with the Skyline Drive. Thanks for writing about the caverns.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      Thank you both for reading and commenting.

      Peggy Woods - We have a similar situation here. Luray Caverns is better known than the other caverns in the area.

      Liz Westwood - It is also close to Skyline Drive, one of the most scenic roads in America.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      To answer your question is hard because of the vast differences in the size of the two caverns. Relatively few people tour the Caverns of Sonora at any one time while crowds of people go through Carlsbad Caverns. Management is obviously very different.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      12 months ago from UK

      This sounds like an interesting day out. The caverns themselves are spectacular, but it's a bonus having added items on the admission ticket. I always find toy museums especially fascinating.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      Did you see a noticeable difference between the privately owned and government caverns in the way they were run?

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I suspected from what you wrote about the Luray Caverns that it was probably privately owned. Carlsbad Caverns is a national park. When my friend and I were on our way to visit the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, we stopped at the Caverns of Sonora. It was small but exquisite. It was also privately owned.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      12 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Robert, it is well appreciated.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      Thank you both for reading and commenting.

      Miebakagh Fiberesima - Someday maybe.

      Mary Norton - Are there caverns where you live?

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      12 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is very interesting. I have not even heard of it so next time I visit, this will definitely be in my itinerary.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      12 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Robert, it would be an interesting experience for me to walk through a tavern. And of couqe, that will be out side my stata of origin. Thanks.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      I see. Yes, a walk through a large cavern is an interesting experience.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      12 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Robert, my answer is no. But there caves which are very small. In ancient times, I gathered this are used for rituals.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      Thank you both for reading and commenting.

      Peggy Woods - Yes, I believe it is privately owned. The Carlsbad Caverns are probably bigger, I know my relatives, who have traveled extensively, weren't impressed with Luray.

      FlourishAnyway - It seems you had a great time while you were there. We have a habit of being budget conscious, which tends to limit what we do at places.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Caverns are so fascinating to visit. Luray Caverns, from your description, sounds like it is probably privately owned? The most massive caverns I have ever visited is Carlsbad Caverns. Thanks for telling us about this site and all that is included in the ticket price.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

      It’s been about 10-12 years since I last visited this site. It was worth the drive and my family also enjoyed the maze.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      Thank you all for reading and commenting.

      Louise Powles - Are there caverns near Norfolk?

      Miebakagh Fiberesima - Do they have caverns near where you live in Nigeria?

      Pamela Oglesby - I presume there are other telltale signs of a major quake at that time. Another way would be stalagmites and stalactites that formed above and around the fallen formation. Stalagmites and stalactites grow at a rate of 1/2 and inch a century.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      12 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I would love to visit the cavern and eveything else in that area. That is such a beautiful area of our country. I liked your pictures also. It is interesting to me that they know when a stalactite fell thousands of years ago. I really liked your article, Robert.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      12 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Robert, I am not very familiar with caverns. For curious and interest sake, I read through. Thanks for dymystifying my curiousity. Enjoy the week.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      12 months ago from Norfolk, England

      That looks a beautiful place to visit. I hope one day I will be able to go here.

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