Explore the Luray Caverns

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Added by Mike Fennell

Walk a mile and a half underground through these otherworldly caverns located in the Appalachian mountains. An unbelievable amount of stalactites and stalagmites formed from a solution of calcium carbonate line the golden cavern.

The caverns are located in the town of Luray, which is in the Shenandoah Valley of northwest Virginia. They can only be explored by tour, and at first I was hesitant to pay the $26 entrance fee, but after an hour-long tour that blew my mind, I had absolutely no regrets. The tour includes about 30 people, with a guide describing the details of the cavern along the way. It's easy enough to stay in the back of the pack and take photos without any human interference. The tour usually takes about an hour to do. It's the perfect activity for a hot summer day, since the caverns stay a cool 54 degrees.

Since tripods are not allowed in the caverns, the best way to photograph them are with flash. The flash is not harmful to the caverns and is even recommended by the tour guide. If using a SLR camera, bring your widest lens and keep the aperture relatively large.

As with other limestone or "solution" caves, formations at Luray Caverns result from a solution of calcium carbonate giving up some of its carbon dioxide, thus allowing a precipitation of lime to form. This precipitation begins as a thin deposit ring of crystallized calcite, but continues to collect, creating stalactites and other types of dripstone and flowstone. Formations at Luray Caverns are white in color if the calcium carbonate is in its pure form. Other colors reflect impurities in the calcite resulting from elements absorbed from the soil or rock layers: reds and yellows due to iron and iron-stained clays; black from manganese dioxide; blues and greens from solutions of copper compounds. Luray Caverns remains an active cave where new formation deposits accumulate at the rate of about one cubic inch every 120 years.

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Has the edge on Shenandoah Caverns

These are worth the cost of admission. It's a fun family activity as well, kids usually get a kick out of it. I'd say its worth the extra driving distance if you're coming from the DC area, compared to Shenandoah Caverns!

Explorer

over 4 years ago

Wonderful Cavern

Totally worth the admission price. I was skeptical at first. Glad I ventured in. Much bigger than I thought it was.

Amazing

The caverns are a must see. The tour guide was very informative and the natural piano and hall were really cool. I do wish the tour were a little smaller. It would have allowed the tour to not feel so rushed. They have a small classic car collection and old school toy shop on the property they was cool too.

A Day At The Caverns

My family and I have been to caverns all over the world and I would have to say this one ranks right at the top. The reflection pool was amazing. If you are in the area something definitely worth checking out.

Explorer

over 5 years ago

Fascinating, highly decorative cave system

We've learned some caves are more decorated than others with stalagmites, columns, stalactites, popcorn, and soda straws. This one had a lot of unique features and the tour was highly enjoyable even for our young kids! We visited years ago and at the time we were even able to hear the The Stalactite Organ. This very interesting instrument is created by locating cave features that sound a particular note when struck. Small actuators (hammers) gently strike the cave feature when the associated key is pressed, and the notes sound throughout the cave. During our tour, we stood quietly in front of the organ while a few musical pieces were played on the organ. This musical experience made Luray Caverns a unique experience.

344 total saves

4.8/5

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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