One of the most popular sites of the Virginian Shenandoah Valley does not lie amongst the majestic peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but rather several hundred feet underground. Luray Caverns contains over 64 acres of subterranean wilderness to explore. First discovered in 1878, the caverns today attract more than half a million visitors annually. Although the caverns are privately owned, they are protected by the Department of the Interior and have been named a National Natural Landmark.
The only way to view the caverns is by participating in a guided tour. These tours follow a well-lit, paved pathway through the caverns. The path winds around a mile and a half of trail through the cave and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to complete. During this journey, participants are required to travel up many steps and inclines. The temperature inside these caverns stays at a constant 54 degrees year round, making it a great adventure for any season.
The caverns contain many magnificent cave formations of stalactites and stalagmites. These formations have clever names such as Saracen’s Tent, Titania’s Veil, and the Ghost of Pluto. Dream Lake is a large water basin located inside of the caverns. Due to an optical illusion, the reflection of the ceiling causes the lake to look much deeper than its actual 20-inch depth. Other highlights of the caverns include a wishing well and the veteran’s memorial plaque that honors the fallen veterans of the surrounding county.
Toward the end of the tour, visitors are treated to a unique experience. Luray Caverns is home to the world’s largest musical instrument, the Stalacpipe Organ. The instrument creates music by sending vibrations through different stalactites throughout the cave.
The caverns are open every day of the year, though the hours depend upon the season. Tours usually depart every 20 minutes. Tickets to the tour also give visitors entry to the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum and the Luray Valley Museum, both of which are on site.
Shenandoah National Park and Shenandoah River State Park are both a short 15-minute drive away from Luray Caverns.