Living in Northern Virginia we have all heard of The Luray Caverns situated in the Shenandoah Valley. Discovered in 1878 purely by chance, the Smithsonian report that followed the discovery stated- “there is nothing more beautiful in the cave than these scarves, shawls, lambrequins of translucent calcite, some white as snow, falling in graceful folds, fringed with a thousand patterns, and so thin that a candle held behind one of them reveals all the structure within”. And more than a century later the beauty and magnificence of these caves remains intact with its columns and draperies of limestone and shimmering water bodies.
The caverns are made up of a group of chambers 30-140 feet high, illuminated by indirect lighting and connected by corridors, stairways and bridges. Every chamber showcases breathtaking stalagmites and stalactites some almost 7 million years old. The cave is still active and the formations are growing at the rate of one cubic inch every 120 years. As you walk through the well maintained pathways following their knowledgeable tour guides you pass marvel after marvel. Some points of interest are: “The Dream Lake”- a reflective pool which mirrors the stalactites around it creating an optical illusion of a deep lake, the fish market formation which looks like fish hanging to dry, “The Giant’s Hall” which is the deepest part of the caverns (164 feet down) and “Saracen’s Tent” with the most delicate folds of stone formations. And if you think visual delight is all that the stalactites offer, you will be pleasantly surprised to hear them sing too. Designed in 1956 by Leland W Sprinkle “ The Great Stalacpipe Organ” uses rubber mallets to tap on different stalactites to create a tune. On your way out you pass the wishing well and the fried eggs formation a result of a broken stalactite while constructing the walking path.
The caverns are open year round, tours depart every 20 minutes and usually last an hour. The temperature inside is maintained at 54 degrees Fahrenheit . Strollers are permitted but there are some sections at the entrance where you will need to carry your stroller. There are no restrooms inside and food is not permitted but a bottle of water is allowed. Check out more details on ticket prices and group rates here http://luraycaverns.com/#Hours-Directions. Entry tickets also includes a free visit to the Car and Carriage museum and Toy Town Junction right next to the caverns. Other nearby attractions include the Luray Museum, Garden Maze and Rope Adventure Park.