top of page
  • Writer's pictureCampBrood

10 Questions Everyone Asks About Luray Caverns Shenandoah Valley!

Updated: Jan 27


We shouldn’t be able to show you the largest cave in the Eastern United States but, Luray Caverns in Virginia is where you will discover a Dream pool reflecting like a perfect mirror, grand stalactites hanging from the ceiling, a ghost like no other, charitable contributions, a veteran’s memorial, and the largest underground musical instrument in the world all inside a living system that has been in process for millions of years. Here are 10 questions everyone asks about Luray Caverns. Let’s Get Started! To watch the video version with more views watch here:



How Long Does It Take to Walk Through Luray Caverns?


Luray Caverns is a cave with a lot to explore and discover. The walk is about 1 ¼ miles in length with gentle slopes and turns. Plan on at least an hour in the cave. But, if you like to read all of the markers and take artistic pictures and selfies, plan on more time. The organ, which we’ll discuss later, provides musical entertainment and cave staff are great at answering questions. All of these experiences can add time or reduce the time if you choose to bypass anything. We’ll tell you a little about the geology of the cave later but first some people ask:



How was Luray Caverns Discovered?


There are a few accounts. One story has a New York businessman coming to the area to specifically seek out a cave. Another is more mysterious, explaining strange occurrences in the area including disappearing cattle and water. Maybe both are correct. Whatever it was in August 1878 men with the last names of Stebbins and Campbell felt a cool breeze on a hot day and they decided to dig. They discovered the cave and kept it a secret until they could purchase the land above at auction for about $500. They opened the cave and started selling admission and the story spread everywhere. But, because they bought the land with secret knowledge of the cave the courts took their ownership and gave it back to the former owner Buracker. Today the Luray Caverns Corp owns the cave with its formation way back in 1905. Now that you know a little about Luray Caverns do you want to know









Where is Luray Caverns Located?


Luray Caverns is just West of Washington D.C. about 2 hours and near Shenandoah National Park in a town called Luray, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. It’s so close to Shenandoah in fact that it's only 15 minutes from the Thorton Gap Entrance to Skyline Drive and Mary’s Rock Trailhead. If you are driving by on Interstate 81 Luray Caverns is only 17 minutes from New Market Virginia, right off the interstate. You just need to get off the highway and take US Highway 211 to US Highway 340 right to Luray. There is a WalMart here and you can fill up your gas tank at the caves gas station. Hikes close to Luray include Stony Man, Dark Hollow Falls, and the Bearfence Rock Scramble. If you are looking for a place to stay in Luray check out Spacious Skies Campground.


A question perpetuated by rumors is next and later we’ll discuss a decades long initiative to make the cave more accessible.



Are There Human Remains in Luray Caverns Shenandoah?


The most talked about remains are about 500 years old and are encased in calcite. The dating of 500 years was based on calcite accumulation when the remains were discovered. The person may have been buried in the exact place the remains were found or the body may have been buried above and somehow by gravity fallen into its resting place. The bone fragments and rock were exhumed and sent to the Smithsonian institute in the 1920s.


Every good hike needs a dad Joke: So, I talked with a cave guide and she said Do you know why I go caving with cave insurance? Baffled, she continued… So that if there’s a collapse, I’m fully covered.


Here are dad joke books for great gifts: Dad Jokes Around the Campfire: https://amzn.to/3JinFJ2 600 Funniest Dad Jokes: https://amzn.to/3EPGv7D To view any product mentioned by us in our videos, click this link: https://www.amazon.com/shop/campbrood As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.




Are the Luray Caverns Made out of Real Rock?


This might seem like an odd question. However, all of the formations in Luray Caverns are Calcite mixed with other minerals. The whiter features in the cave are more pure and the less white are tinted with more mineral content. Calcite is a carbonate mineral and is most present in limestone. Furthermore, calcite is a crystal mineral that is found in sedimentary and igneous rocks. Does that clear it up for you? I’d answer yes Luray Caverns is made of rock, but I’m not a geologist. Maybe one smarter than me can comment and let us know for sure? Later we’ll let you know how to dress for the cave but have you noticed something about our tour so far? You might be asking.




Are There Stairs in Luray Caverns Shenandoah?


No, there are no steps in Luray caverns. There were steps originally and over 20 years they removed many of the steps between 1954 and 1975. In 2019 a new entrance was opened to bypass the remaining steps to make the all paved 1-¼ mile trail step free. The old entrance steps are still in the cave and you can see them on your tour. Luray Caverns Shenandoah Valley is not graded wheelchair accessible and there are some significant slopes but wheelchairs are allowed as well as small strollers.





Since the Campbell family decades ago, there has been a responsibility of the corporation to maintain the beauty of the cave, its historical significance, and the continuation of growth and development, while sharing the cave with the world. Luray caverns is a tourist destination. But, the staff and owners take great care in striking the appropriate balance between profit, community development, and preserving nature. Each has to succeed in order for the program to be successful. Making the caves more accessible by removing stairs in an environmentally friendly way is one example. Moving on everyone is always concerned about the temperature of caves so,




Is it Hot or Cold In Luray Caverns?


Luray Caverns is an underground cave. The walk through the cave is relaxing but does provide a level of exercise. The about 55 degree temperature in the cave is best dressed with a light jacket or hoodie as the humidity makes the feel of the cave more like 65 degrees. As you discover and explore you probably won’t even notice if you are a little underdressed.



Is Luray Caverns a Lot of Walking?


At 1.5 miles plus the large parking lot, walk to the gift shop entrance, and walk from the ticket counter to the cave entrance you could be at 2 miles of walking. We would consider this a moderate hike. But what makes it easier is there are no steps and the inclines and declines are at a very low grade. If you can walk around your neighborhood and stand for 1.5 hours this hike should be fantastic for your abilities. Your brood should also have no troubles in the cave and there is headroom in the cave for piggy back rides, too. The gift shop is next and later we’ll talk about a presidential visit to Luray.




In order to get into Luray Caverns you must begin at the gift shop. The exit is also through the gift shop. Make sure you use the bathroom in the gift shop before you begin the cave self guided tour. You’ll have at least an hour underground. The bathrooms are located behind the entrance station. Make sure to bring your pennies and quarters. There is a penny machine here with a few designs. In the gift shop you will find everything. There is a whole room for shirts, sweatshirts, dresses and hats. Mining helmets can also be picked up. More items include camera supplies, jewelry, rocks and gems, snacks and drinks, and artwork and crafts. Postcards, stickers, and magnets are available too.




So, Why is Luray Caverns Famous?


These caves are famous for their size and accessibility. Luray Caverns is only 2 hours away from Washington DC and at the base of Shenandoah National Park. It is a little further from Baltimore and 2 ½ hours from Richmond, Virginia. It is one of the largest caves in the United States and has been toured for decades. 500,000 people annually tour the cave and Michele Obama and her daughters toured the cave in 2009. With the sheer number of people visiting annually, the word of mouth advertising will keep people touring. Also, Luray Caverns is a great half or whole day adventure to add with hikes in Shenandoah National Park.




But, there is one invention that makes it famous. Luray Caverns holds the largest underground musical instrument as noted by the Guiness Book of World Records. The Great Stalacpipe Organ covers over 3.5 acres. It is an organ attached to electrical wires that actuate mallets that tap stalactites throughout the cave. Standing in the room you can hear the music through the caves and there is a staff person available for you to learn more. Look closely for the mallets and see if you can watch them make music.



Did you know? one of the most famous neighbors ever, played the organ in Luray Caverns? Mr. Rogers played his famous intro and toured the cave during Season 18 Episode 12 that aired May 3, 1988. We’ve shared a lot about Luray Caverns But,


How Big is Luray Caverns?




The cave system spans over 60 acres and one of the rooms is over 10 stories high. Some of the rock formations are almost 50 feet tall. There are multiple rooms. The cave is so big that it holds Dream Lake which is about 2,500 sq feet but only 18-20 inches in depth. There are multiple pools in the caverns including the wishing well which is up to 7 feet deep. The lowest part of the cave is 260ft below ground. The walkway is about 80 feet below with the lowest measurement being over 160 feet. But you’ll never know it. The sheer size of the caves and the calcite formations, lit with care make the over 1 mile tour an unforgettable experience.





To learn more about Shenandoah read one of the posts below



134 views0 comments
bottom of page