Luray Caverns: More Than a Cave
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 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.
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.
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