You can almost spend a day at Luray Caverns — it’s not the tourist attraction of my childhood, that’s for sure!
There’re several adjacent museums — about the Shenandoah Valley, toys, historic automobiles… a ropes course and a maze.
But you go there for the caverns, and that’s because Luray Caverns are the largest in the eastern United States.
Gone are the long waits to enter: the tours are all self-guided, so you can stroll up to purchase your tickets and then stroll on down to the caverns themselves. As you go around the caverns, you can follow along in your guide and read about the formations you’re seeing.
And after having been in several nearby tourist caves, Luray Caverns definitely has the most fully formed formations.
The tour leads you past creatively named formations such as Pluto’s Ghost…
Fried Eggs and …
I have to admit, though — I missed hearing the corny rock and cave puns that you’ll get on tours at the other caverns that the tour guides give to generate polite laughs. You might happen across a staff member within the cavern itself who might have a few puns at the ready, but I thought their puns hit rock bottom. (I crack myself up.)
And I missed a lot about the cave itself — the dim light made it hard for me to read the descriptions (and most of the time I was too busy taking photos to focus on reading about the formations).
|The Wishing Well. Why folks drop dollar bills in, not sure — they’ll disintegrate before they’re collected.|
Since 1954, Luray Caverns has donated almost $1.2 million to various charities.
Still, I enjoyed this usually hidden splendor — for the rest of the day, I imagined what other hidden beauty lurked below the earth’s surface! And that’s the point of Luray Caverns and the other caverns in the Shenandoah Valley: to introduce us to nature’s wonder in a different way than we’re used to seeing it.
This well-known National Landmark has been visited by millions since its discovery in 1878. The cavern system is generously adorned with formations — more correctly but less commonly known as speleothems — such as columns and ribbons (usually referred to as bacon strips) and stalactites …
… stalagmites, and…
One of the things I really enjoyed about Luray Caverns is the emphasis on natural (versus colored) lighting. (Perversely, I really enjoyed the colored lighting in the other tourist caverns as well.)
I recommend visiting several caverns, but of all of them, Luray Caverns should always be on your list to see!
Getting there: 1000 US Highway 211 W, Luray, VA
Hours: From April 1 to June 14 daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. From June 15 to Labor Day daily 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. After Labor Day to October 31 daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. From November 1 to March 31weekends 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; weekdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
|The famous Luray Caverns stalactite organ.|
Craving more cave? Check out:
- Crystal Grottoes in Maryland
- Penn’s Cave in Pennsylvania
- Grand Caverns just down the road at Grottoes VA
- Shenandoah Caverns (coming soon!)
- Skyline Caverns (coming soon!)
Looking for other daytrip ideas in the Shenandoah Valley? Check out: