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Friday, February 12, 2021

Visiting Luray Caverns - Virginia

Luray Caverns

Spending $30 a person to go tour a cavern isn't typically on my to-do list when traveling somewhere new. I like geologic formations as much as the next person I suppose, but generally prefer to skip touristry attractions for time outside. 

We were in Virginia for a few days and had a bit of time to kill after our hike to Kennedy Peak. Adam was very excited about the idea of spelunking and checking out a cavern and after a quick google search, the caverns did seem pretty interesting. They are the largest caverns in eastern America and it's more than just a quick look at some rocks, a 1.25-mile path takes you into and through the caverns. Your ticket also comes with admission to two smaller museums on the property. The first is "Toy Town Junction" featuring a walk through history via toys of different eras, and access to the "Car & Carriage Caravan Museum" a blast from the automotive past for any car junky. We spent about an hour and a half exploring all three attractions and both agreed the caverns were even more impressive than we expected and worth the stop. 

Luray Caverns

Fast Facts 

  • Luray Caverns were first discovered in 1878 and is widely known as the largest and most popular cavern system in Eastern America.
  • Formations at Luray Caverns formed as a result from a solution of Calcium Carbonate giving up some of its carbon dioxide, allowing precipitation of lime to form. As rainwater seeps through decaying vegetation in the soil, it picks up diluted carbonic acid. The acidified water percolates through limestone, dissolving and eroding layers along the way. It descends into lower levels of the earth and leaves huge chambers.
  • The rate and direction of the seepage determine the color and shape of the formations.
  • Stalactites form from the ceiling. When spread over a ledge, mineral-bearing water forms massive draperies, frozen waterfalls, veils, and tents.
  • Minerals cause the array of colors throughout Luray Caverns.
  • Stalagmites form on the floor. When Stalagmites and Stalagmites grow together they form columns.
  • New deposits in Luray Caverns accumulate at the rate of one cubic inch every 120 years.
  • The caverns are also famous for "The Great Stalacpipe Organ" - an electrically actuated lithophone located in the caverns. It is operated by a custom console that produces the tapping of ancient stalactites of varying sizes with solenoid-actuated rubber mallets in order to produce tones and sounds like your classic organ. 
Luray Caverns

Need To Know

Hours: 7 days a week - winter (9am-4pm) no reservations needed 

Admission: Adults ($30), Seniors 62+ ($27), Children 6-12 ($15) - your ticket includes admission to other attractions on the property - Toy Town Junction, the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, and an outdoor garden maze. 

Facilities: There is a large parking area which makes this trailer/RV friendly. There is also a gift shop, restrooms, and a cafe. 

Conditions: The caverns is a constant 54 degrees with very high humidity that makes it feel more like 65 degrees.

Access: Stroller friendly - wheelchair entrance friendly although some of the steep terrain may be challenging for a chair. The pathways through the cavern cover 1.25 miles


Luray Caverns

Car & Carriage Caravan Museum,

toy town junction

Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns

Luray, VA

After the caverns, we checked out the quaint little town of Luray to grab lunch to-go. The downtown area was quite cute with various little shops and restaurants and the railroad cutting through, creating quite the backup through town. I read some reviews and decided to order sandwiches from Gathering Grounds on Main Street. Adam opted for a burger while I opted for a turkey sandwich and we were both insanely impressed with this top-notch lunch (eaten in our car of course). The baked goods also looked divine and for our first (and only) meal "out" of this trip, we were insanely happy with the cafe.

  Gathering Grounds

Gathering Grounds - Main Street, Luray, Virginia 

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