The Most Visited Caverns in the US: Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns: A brief History and Photo Tour

History of Luray Cavern

Luray Caverns was originally called Luray Cave and was discovered August 13,  1878 by local tin smith Andrew Campbell and two others. They were intrigued by a sinkhole in the ground, so sent Andrew down because he was the smallest. Upon entering the cavern, he saw what is now called Washington’s Column.

Entrance to the cavern at Luray Caverns in Virginia, a geological wonder & US Natural Landmark.
The entrance to the cavern.
X marks the spot where Andrew Campbell first discovered Luray Caverns in Virginia, a US Natural Landmark.
X marks the spot where Andrew Campbell first entered the cavern.
The priceless geological treasure of Luray Caverns is protected by state law.
The geologic treasure is protected by law.

Luray Caverns Geology

The caverns were formed when acidic underground rivers carved the surrounding dolomite. As caves were formed, after further erodes the soft limestone. As it dripped down, it formed two types of stone: Drip Stone which forms from dripping water filled with minerals. The minerals build up and create the stalactites and stalagmites. It takes 20 years for drip stone to grow 1 cubic inch. The second stone is flow stone, and is formed by water with minerals flowing. It takes 300 years for Flow Stone to grow 1 cubic inch.

Photo Tour:

Washington’s Column

Washington's Column, the first discoveries saw when entering Luray Caverns.
Washington Column, the first sight upon entering the cavern.

The Amphitheater

The Amphitheater at Luray Caverns, a US Natural Landmark in Virginia.
The Amphitheater

Fish Market: If the stones are wet, they are still alive and growing. If they are dry, they are stagnant and no longer forming.

The Fish Market at Luray Caverns, a US Natural Landmark in Virginia.
It looks like fish hanging in the market for sale.
The view from above the Fish Market in Luray Caverns, a US Natural Landmark in Virginia.
View from above.

Dream Lake: the “lake” is an optical illusion that appears much deeper than it is. In reality it is only a few inches deep but seems almost bottomless when looking into it’s clear, mirrored depths.

Dream Lake in Luray Caverns, a US Natural Landmark in Virginia USA.
Dream Lake, an optical illusion
Dream Lake, an optical illusion inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
How deep do you think it is?
Another view of Dream Lake inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
Or does it look like a lake at all? Maybe a gorge instead?
One more view of the amazing reflections of Dream lake inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
In reality, it is only about 20 inches deep.

Pluto’s Chasm is 500 feet in length and about 70 feet deep

The Ghost of Luray Caverns

Pluto’s Ghost: Pluto’s Ghost is a was named in part for Pluto, the Greek ruler of the underworld. The column is called a ghost because it almost pure white and seems to glow. Andrew Campbell, the caverns discoverer, thought it was following him because it can be seen from multiple locations in the cavern. It can be seen three times on the tour.

The first view of Pluto's Ghost, a calcite column, as you tour Luray Caverns in Virginia USA.
First view of Pluto’s Ghost and it’s eerie glow.

Skeleton’s Gorge is named because the remains of a young girl were found there. The remains are believed to be the remains from a Native American burial ground. There was a sinkhole beneath the burial ground and the remains fell to the caverns below. The remains that were found were incomplete and are believed to be about 500 years old.Somme of the amazing features seen on a tour of Luray Caverns in VIrginia USA.

Teeth like stalactites seen on a tour of Luray Caverns in Virginia USA.
These look like teeth in a giant mouth!

*Quick Geology Lesson:

Stactites form from the top of the cavern, stalagmites form from the bottom. An easy way to remember is stalactite as a “t” for top and stagmites “might” grow up! If they grow together it is called a column.

The Princess Column in Skeleton Gorge is named “Princess” in honor of the girl whose remains were found there.

A look down into Skeleton Gorge and the Princess Column in Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
Skeleton’s Gorge and the Princess Column.
A closer view of the Princess Column in Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The Princess Column

The main body of the cavern is the largest and driest. It is dry because it sits under the cave hill which acts as an umbrella.

The second view of Pluto's Ghost on the Luray Caverns tour in Virginia USA.
Another view of PLuto’s Ghost. Is this thing following us?!
The chamber holding Titania's Veil, a pure white calcite fall in Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
Titania’s Veil, a calcite fall

Titania’s Veil is a gleaming pure white calcite formation, that mimics a flowing white veil.A closeup of Titania's Veil in Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The Overlook chamber looks down into Giant’s Hall.

Giant’s Hall is the lowest point in the cavern.

The Overlook to Giant's Hall in Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
Overlook to Giant’s Hall

It is dominated by by the “Redwood Tree” or “big Shaggy Dog”formation in it’s center.

The Redwood Tree formation in Giant's Hall inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The Redwood Tree or Big Shaggy Dog, which do you see?

The walkway leading out of Giant’s Hall was a filming location for 70’s film “The Other Side of Midnight.

The 70's movie the Other Side of Midnight was filmed along the walkway to Seracen's Tent.
Some scenes to a 70’s film were shot here on this walkway.

Serasen’s Tent is perhaps the largest and best diplay of a “drapery”, a flowstone formation.

Seracen's Tent, an amazing example of flowstone inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
Seracen’s Tent, a flowstone formation
Hanging out under Seracen's Tent inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
Under Seracen’s Tent
A closeup of the flowstone of Seracen's Tent and the mineral patterns that run through it as it formed.
A Closeup of the flowstone and the mineral patterns running through it.

The Great Fallen Statctite was the most recent to fall and was estimated to fall over 7000 years ago. It weighs a massive 170 tons.

A Great Fallen Stactite that fell from the cavern an estimated 7000 years ago inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The Great Fallen Stactite
A closeup of the Great Fallen Stalactite in Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
It weighs about 170 tons1

The hall it is located in is the most decorated with about 170,000 stalactites.

Stalactites decorate Giant's Hall in Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
Stalactites decorate he ceiling of Gian’t Hall.
Giant's Hall, the most decorated with over 170,000 stalactites inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
About 170,000 stalactites decorate Giant’s Hall
The intertwined Bride and Groom Columns inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The Bride and Groom Columns

Tie the Knot at Luray Caverns!

The Bride and Groom are two intertwined columns (double column) just outside of the Cathedral. They are so named for all the weddings that have been performed in the cathedral. It is the largest in the cavern at 47 feet.

The Bride and Groom Columns in Luray Caverns because they are just outside the Cathedral where many weddings have been preformed.
The Bride and Groom Columns located out side the Cathedral inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.

The Cathedral houses the famous stactite organ. It was invented by Mr. Leland Sprinke from Virginia and uses solenoids to tap the rock in place of organ pipes.

The Stalactite Organ in the Cathedral located inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The Organ inside the Cathedral

Virginia ingenuity created the Great Stalactite Organ inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.

The solenoid hitting the stalactites to make the Great Stalactite Organ play inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The solenoid hits the hollow stalactites to make the music notes.

You pass closest to Pluto’s Ghost toward the end of the tour.

The third and final view of Pluto's Ghost in Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The last view of Pluto’s Ghost, we hope!

 

Then on to the Wishing Well, another illusion, but the opposite of the Dream Lake, it appears shallower than reality. Every 3 years or so, the money is removed and donated to charity. Make a wish and Pay it Forward!

The Wishing Well, a turquoise pool inside Luray Caverns where visitors toss in coins for wishes.
Make a wish and toss a coin or two!
The Wishing Well inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
The Wishing Well
The proceeds from money collected fro the Wishing Well and donated to charity over the years at Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
Make someone else’s wish come true too!

You will pass by the “fried eggs”, which I thought looked more like oysters. It is where workers in the cave accidentally sheared off two stalagmites.

Do they look like eggs to you?

The final stop on the tour is the Luray Virginia Veteran’s Memorial. It is a beautiful and fitting tribute to those from this small town who paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our country.

The final tour stop, a Memorial to all Luray/Pope County Virginia Verterans inside Luray Caverns Virginia USA.
A fitting tribute

Visitors were allowed to break off pieces to take for souvenirs prior to the 1920’s.  So sad, but they just didn’t realize what they were doing at the time.

Broken stalactites where historic visitors took them home as souvenirs prior to the 1920's.
So sad, they didn’t realize what they were destroying in the name of souvenirs…

Luray Caverns: One of the Most Visited in the United States.

I hope you enjoyed our photo tour of the Caverns! It is such a beautiful and interesting place. Our tour guide Emma said they get about one million visitor’s a year. I also loved the fact that she was also a local.

Have you visited any caverns? Where were they and what did you think?

Stay tuned for more posts from our 2017 summer road trip!

Two Traveling Texans

The AdventureDawgs are thrilled to be a part of #TheWeeklyPostcard! It is co-hosted by Two Traveling Texans. They are awesome bloggers and visit such fun places. Please check them out.

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A photo tour of Luray Caverns in Luray Virginia USA, A Natural Historic Landmark.
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12 thoughts on “The Most Visited Caverns in the US: Luray Caverns

  1. I love caverns but I have not heard of Luray before! It’s not easy to take photos in caverns but yours turned out great. I would love to see it in person one day. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. Luray is worth the trip. The town of Luray is awesome too. Thanks for inviting us to participate! We’re really excited to be part of such a talented group.

      1. We are excited to have you join. Glad we got the technical stuff figured out

        1. Me too! We’re in the middle of no where on vacation so coverage has been spotty too. Thanks for letting us join!

  2. Whenever I see caves like this, it always reminds me of middle earth, or something straight outta that movie/book Journey to the Center of the Earth. Just looks so unreal! There are some big ones in Slovenia I want to visit! Carlsbad Caverns in NM are also cool! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. It is very fantasy like! We hiked a lava tube last year in Oregon and it was like hiking in the moon. Glad to participate, thanks for reading!

  3. Very spectacular caves. I should make a note of this place to go visit it. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  4. Wow this one looks amazing! I would love to travel to all of the caves around the world, so far we have only been to 6. This one has been added to the list, beautiful geology! 🙂 #theweeklypostcard

    1. Six! That’s pretty impressive! This one is a beauty with lots of history attached. Thanks for visiting with us!

  5. Wow – that’s quite a cave system! We hadn’t heard of Luray Caverns before, but they sure are beautiful! This is definitely on our wish list for our next trip to Virginia. Thanks for the introduction, and for joining us on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. It’s a beautiful area. The Luray KOA is where I recommend staying, it’s the most picturesque campground I’ve ever been to. The town has lots of fun things to do too for a small town.

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