Ultimate Guide to Luray Caverns (Virginia) (Tours, Pricing, History)
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Luray Caverns is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Virginia. Nestled in picturesque Luray Valley, Luray Caverns offers visitors a variety of tours from which to choose including self-guided walking tours and guided daytime or evening tours.
The caverns are open year-round and offer a range of attractions for all ages. For example, you can explore the world’s largest underground lake or take part in an adventure tour where you’ll rappel down into hidden chambers! If you’re looking for something more relaxing, check out the Luray Wine Cave, home to over 200 different wines.
Ultimate Guide to Luray Caverns (Tours, Pricing, History)
Luray Caverns is a historic site, having been used for centuries by Native Americans before it was rediscovered in 1878. The caverns are located near Luray, Virginia and offer tours of the stunning limestone formations.
What’s the difference between a cavern and a cave?
A cave is an area of the earth’s surface that has openings to a below ground level. Caverns are usually deeper than caves, as they have been carved out by water or dissolved rock over time. They can also be man-made and not natural at all – this means people have purposefully dug caverns into the earth for different purposes (e.g., mining).
History of Luray Caverns
On August 13, 1878, five local men, Andrew J. Campbell – a local tinsmith; William Campbell, John “Quint” Campbell, and Benton Stebbins, discovered Luray Caverns. They were drawn to the area by a unique limestone they saw pushing out unusually.
This was in addition to a sinkhole located in the area pushing out lots of cool air. The men somehow knew there must have been something in hiding, so they started to dig for more answers, and within four hours, they had an entrance suited for the smallest men in the group – Andrew and Quint.
They both slid through on ropes and scoped the area with candles. The men saw many intriguing features, including a column which was later named after the first president of the United States – the Washington Column.
The men came across so much more, including some fragmented bones embedded in the calcite found in the caves. These are located in the “Skeleton’s Gorge.” The whole discovery was kind of scary, too, as there was a skeleton of a small girl poised among the stalactites.
Many people assumed her burial ground might have been washed to the area through one of the sinkholes in the area, but the theory is really yet to be solved. This feature, among many others in the cavern, could well be over 500 years old. History has it that Luray Caverns is unmatched related to the amount of stalactite and stalagmite formations being uniquely different. Located in Luray, Virginia, United States, there’s a lot to explore when you set your foot through the entrance
- Luray Caverns is estimated to be well over 400 million years old.
- The cavern features a Great Stalacpipe Organ – which is the largest musical instrument in the world. Once the hammers hit, the whole underground becomes a musical serenade of soothing sound.
- Skeletal remains (fragmented bones) were first discovered in the caverns, which initially gave birth to the “Skeleton’s Gorge.”
- The cavern sits on over 64 acres of rich nature’s beauty and abundance.
- No other cave in the world is decorated with stalactites and stalagmites like Luray Caverns.
- Parts of the cave accessible by visitors have been decked with electrical-powered lighting.
- The cavern features a spring of water known as Dream Lake.
Luray Caverns Wildlife
Like every cave around the world, animals of some sort do live in them…some in a larger quantity than the other. When it comes to Luray Caverns, several animals exist there, such as trogloxenes and troglobites. You may come across the following animals and insects throughout your tours…water fleas, blind salamanders, blind fish, freshwater worms, blind crayfish, snails, and blind cave newts.
There are also crustaceans like amphipods and isopods. Interestingly though, unlike many other caves around, Luray Caverns does not have a large colony of bats living there…interesting. Well, unique animals do exist, and some of them can be found here.
Luray Caverns Geological Formations
Luray Caverns have a lot of speleothems, some that are more unique than you have ever seen. There was lots of water flowing through the cavern back in time, but as the years went by and the water receded, the eroded areas remained intact.
These would eventually become the stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and more you see around the cavern. The cavern is generally yellow, red, or brown in color as the constant area has been mixed with water, minerals, and chemicals. One of the standout formations in the column is the Empress Column which measures around 35 feet tall and is heavily draped.
There are cascade formations shaped as foaming cataracts that seem to be floating through mid-air and eventually transformed into milk-white alabaster. Lots of these formations stand at an average of 40 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Let us not forget about the Flowstone draperies, which stand out so well – the Saracen’s tent, which is recognized as one of the most uniquely-formed draperies in the world.
Another amazing feature of the cavern is the Great Stalacpipe Organ which was instilled in the cavern as a part of its rich history. It is a must-see once you step through the entrance of the cavern. There are loads of calcite crystals and more lining the cavern walls and fire enough, there are endless amounts of speleothems for you to see!
Luray Caverns Tours
The cave is opened all year round between 9am and 6pm each day and sometimes up to 7pm. The tours may vary depending on the package you select for your visit, but you can get all the details for your guided tour from the information desk.
Luray Prices and Discounts
Getting to Luray Caverns is not such a complicated task, and sure enough, there is a package to suit every budget. Here are some packages that will do well in creating those memories you desire…
- Adults: $27
- Kids: $14 (Children 6 to 12 years)
- Children under 5 years are free once accompanied by a paying adult
- Adults: 50% off adult charges
- $8.50 for children (up to grade 12) for school groups of a minimum of 15 students
- $5 off for military personnel
- Groups of 20 and up to get discounted prices (contact the information desk for more details)
Where to Stay Near Luray Caverns
Visiting Luray Caverns does not end unless you take a tour of the extended area. Here are a few places you can stay over…
The Mimslyn Inn
Located along 401 W Main St, Luray, VA, this amazing lodge is designed with a Georgian touch and is seated a mere 3 minutes away from Luray Caverns. It features some cool amenities and features to complement your stay and create that home away from home experience.
Built with 45 rooms, they are all equipped with coordinated color schemes, classy furnishings, and the most modern amenities to make you pretty much comfortable. There’s a fine-dining restaurant, conference areas, a fitness center, a spa, and an outdoor setting that relaxes the mind perfectly. They are worth the stay.
Skyland Hotel is one of the most relaxing and quaint resorts located in Shenandoah National Park. All the rooms are decked with air-conditioning and are designed with the most convenient amenities to provide you with the utmost comfort. There is also free internet access, an on-site restaurant, chill areas, and much more. Located on Skyline Dr. Mile 41.7 & 42.5, Shenandoah National Park, VA, you are only minutes away from one of the world’s most decorated caverns.
Luray Caverns Details
- Luray Details
- Length: 1.5 miles
- Time recommended: 1+ hour
- Trail Type: Loop
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Kid-Friendly: Yes
- Dog-Friendly: Yes (Only small dogs that can be carried are allowed underground)
- Accessibility: Parking Lot
- Fee/Permit: Varies
- Hours: 9am to 6pm
How to Get to Luray Caverns
Getting to Luray Cavern is pretty much easy and is located in Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. It is close to the Shenandoah National Park, and once you take exit 264 on the west side of Skyline Drive, you will head on straight towards the cavern.
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- The Best List of Caves in Vermont
- The Best List of Caves in Virginia
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