The discovery of Luray Caverns was in 1874. It is estimated to be over 4 million of centuries of age. Annually about 500, 000 visitors are recorded at the site; making the place one of the largest eastern America caverns systems which are most famous.
This famous landmark is known for various types of natural formations and colors which are unsurpassed. It’s featured with paved walkways which are well lighted, enabling you to explore the ten stories tall cathedral ceilings at ease. You also get to go through massive chambers that have towering stone columns. And you too, get to have the mesmerizing view of crystal-clear water pools and shimmering draperies. According to the report by Smithsonian Institution of 13th and 14th July, there is no other cavern system in the world comparable to Luray Caverns.
This is due to its prolific decorations by stalagmite and stalactite ornaments. One of the audio features during the tour is the “Great Stalacpipe Organ” evocative sounds. That is also the most significant world musical instrument. Among the musical instruments, it is unique. And this is attributed due to use of stalactites to create symphonic quality tones that cover the three surrounding caverns which are half an acre each. The mechanism of sound creation is tapping the stalactites by mallets with rubber tips, and they are controlled electronically.
How to get there
It is located in Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and nearby Shenandoah National Park. It is situated in a strategic location where you get to explore all that is offered by Shenandoah National Park. If you are driving, in the National park, you can use the 264 west road exiting the skyline drive, and you will head directly into the entrance of the caverns. The address of the place is: 101 Cave Hill Rd, Luray VA
Things you need to know
The Caverns are available to visit throughout the year. You can gain entry from as early as 9 am and the closing hour is 4 pm in the evening. The opening time remains constant, but the time for closure changes depending on the various factors in the course of the year. Therefore, you can inquire before heading to the place.
The tickets can be got in advance or when you’ve just got to the venue. Therefore, whichever the means you take, you can never fail to get a ticket. According to the claims at Luray Caverns, the tickets never sell out.
Some of the general tickets for admission include the venues such as Luray Caverns, Toy & town junction, Luray Valley Museum and Car & Carriage. At the Caverns, the tour intervals are after 20 minutes, due to the many tours carried out each day.
To visitors with vehicles, you get to have a large parking lot which is free for parking. Apart from the named tickets above, there is an extra exciting place to spend your cash, the Luray Rope Adventures Park. At this place, you get to explore the Garden maze and the ropes which are on a 3 level.
Note: The Garden Maze and Rope Course tickets are excluded in the general ticket. Therefore, to have fun in these places, you will have to buy the tickets separately.
General tips you need to know
Toilet: Before you begin your tour in the cave either as a family or friends, ensure everyone has visited the toilet. Within the cave, there are no washrooms to relieve yourself. You are provided with the restrooms close to the entry point.
Weather: Despite the weather outside, you need to arm yourself with a sweater. The caves have a 10 degrees Celsius constant temperature. Therefore, you can also include wearing a long trouser for extra warmth.
Stroller: The paths are very smooth, thus allows for strollers, but a light one is commended since you will have to carry it on three staircases section.
Parking: You are provided with a huge parking lot, which is also free to park.
Wheelchair: Unfortunately, the cave is not wheelchair enabled. Some paths are too steep and may require assistance for up to two men. Others have staircase access which the wheelchair cannot pass through.
Things to see around there
At the caves, you get the most exquisite and incomparable view of the art made by Mother Nature. The sight alone is enough to take your breath away. To gain entry into the cave, locate the ticket booth, and next to it, there is a descending staircase which is very narrow. Your tour will begin with a historical insight about the cave given by the guide at the bottom of the staircase.
To make your visit even more exciting and relaxing, guides are allocated at various points in the cave. Therefore, you can get to appreciate the view at your own pace without worrying about being left behind by the guide.
The Caverns have cathedral ceilings which are as high as ten stories and with a passage which is very wide. So, apart from giving you a wider field of view, it is also safe for claustrophobic individuals.
In every section, you have a glance at; you get to see enormous stalactites which are well crafted and pointing down. While on the floor you get to stand next to and closely admire the towering stalagmites which are standing majestically and they are stunning.
During the visit, you will get to learn the various details about the cave and its formation. For instance, how the different colors of stalagmite and stalactite relate to their time of composition and age. This also includes stories about how it was discovered in 1878.
Another intriguing part of the cave is the sparkling lake with crystal clear water. It creates a fantastic illusion. The clear water reflects the cave ceiling with its stalactite making the formation looks as if they are emerging from the ground.
But that’s not the end of fun, in another section of the cave; you will come across the Luray Caverns Organ. Which is one of the enormous stalactites; it was formed from the ancient stones and also played music. Am sure you are wondering how?
The great stalactite organ, which is also the world’s largest instrument of music, create gentle tones of music when tapped mallets that have rubber tips. The whole musical instrument is made up of 37 stalactites that are spread out on 3.5 acres of the cave roof. Therefore, it’s one of a kind instrument.
To finalize your tour, you will pass by the turquoise water, which is very beautiful. The water is very clear to the bottom and blue. At this point, you can make a wish by throwing a few coins in the water. The exit point will get you at the caverns store.
Apart from the cave, there are other close-by exciting places to make your day even better. These include- Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Luray Valley Museum, Toy Junction town, Garden maze, and the Rope Adventure Park.
Car & Carriage Caravan Museum
If you love cars, then this is the right place for you. But if you don’t fancy cars, it’s still the best place to visit. The models of classic vehicles are too amazing, not love them. They range from the year 1725 to 1950s. They are a collection of the best cars of all time. Both the adults and kids will be amazed by the vehicles.
You will be able to see the advancement of the vehicles from their origin to current models. Trust me, the sight of the place is worth your 30 minutes or so stop. The entry fee to this museum is part of the fee in the general ticket. Also, the building is situated just next to the cave entrance; you will only take some few steps to get there.
The Luray Valley Museum
At this place, you get to appreciate the historical background of the valley. This includes the residents’ culture and also the ancients’ structures and artifacts. At the museum, you will get two places to explore. And the first being small of the museums, at this place, you will view the Shenandoah Valley history, including people who lived there. At the place, there is a collection of antiques which dates back from the 1750s up to 1920s. It’s a friendly place and accommodates both adults and children interests.
The second exciting part of the museum comprises the ancient way of life of the local community. This is portrayed by the historic buildings which are dated from the 19th century, and it belongs to a community of farmers. Other structures of historical significance include the farmhouse from the 1800s, African American school oldest schools, Barn house from 1860s which is full of artifacts which are related to agriculture. Others include a blacksmith shop and an early 1800s Elk run house where the meetings were conducted. There is a blacksmith at the shop who illustrates the skills through creating metallic items.
If you are a family with kids, you can give your kids an exciting experience through the gems mining process. You get to buy a bag of sand with gems distributed in it from the museum store. The kids get to take it to the Mining Company of Stoneyman where the kids will discover their gems through shifting the sand in water stations. Through this, the kids leave the place with fun memories and some beautiful treasures.
Toy Town Junction
If you were searching for places to excite your kids, then look no more. At the Toy town junction, every kid will love the site. You can take them on tour in this toy museum. For those who love trains, there is above 30 trains to admire. This also includes small theme places and other historic toys which are in thousands. Therefore, at this museum, kids will come out with the best memorable experience and stories to tell when they are back home. The toy museum is also part of the general tickets. Therefore, it’s your choice whether to stop by, stay for a short while or even take your time in the place. It’s based next to the museum of Car and Carriage Caravan.
Other Attractions Things to do
Rope Adventure Park
Also nearby, it’s based behind the museum of Car and Carriage Caravan. This is an exciting place where both adults and kids can enjoy its fun. It comprises three-level rope courses which are huge. The levels are both higher and lower; therefore, you get to access the highest if you are skilled enough and comfortable with the height. For safety, there are pulley systems where one is attached before walking on the rope course. Due to time constraints, you may be out of time, but it’s a great place to try out during your visit to the caves.
Have you ever got lost anywhere? Well, the garden maze is a great place to experience getting lost in a refreshing way. The maze occupies a one-acre piece of land, making it one of the largest in the Mid-Atlantic. This is a fun and exciting place for both adults and kids. It’s a great place to play a family challenge.
Place to Eat
An excellent place for an adult treat is the historic café. Also known as Heart Café that serves you with small snacks but also includes wine tasting. It’s close to Luray Valley Museum, forming a high point to stop for refreshing during the tour. You can get your kids engaged at the Mining Company of Stoneyman while you relax with a glass of wine.
During lunch hours or when you are feeling hungry, there are areas with picnic tables for those who have takeaways. But if you need a restaurant service, you will be able to get meals at two sections within the vicinity. They are in the Luray Museum area and the other at Luray Caverns entrance.