Home » 1998 Road Trip to Virginia and North Carolina

Luray Caverns, VA

Monday, April 6, 1998 - 5:30am by Lolo
38 miles and 1 hour from our last stop


We got to Luray Caverns by taking a side trip from our drive along Skyline Drive. It was only about 10 miles west of Thornton Gap entrance to Shenandoah, so it really wasn't that much out of the way at all.

Luray Caverns was our first experience going down into a natural cave system. In our later travels, we would eventually explore some really magnificent caves, like Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and Wind Cave in South Dakota. However, Luray Caverns was our first, and they say you never forget your first. Also, Luray was different from those in that it was not a national park, but privately owned. As a result, it was a bit more commercialized. Nonetheless, it was up there with the rest of them in terms of natural beauty.

We took the one-hour guided tour, which took us along a well-lighted, paved walkway down through the various rooms in the cave. The temperature down in the caves was a cool 52 degrees and stays that way regardless of the season. The cathedral-sized rooms we entered were full of beautiful colorful stalactite and stalagmite formations and crystal clear pools. It was breathtaking. Our favorite stop along the tour was hearing the Great Stalacpipe Organ being played. It's not really an organ at all, but a series of stalactites, which are tapped by rubber-tipped plungers. It sounded as good, if not better, than any organ I have heard. The creator of the organ, a scientist at the Pentagon named Leland W. Sprinkle, spent 3 years searching the Caves for just the right stalactites to match the notes on the musical scale.

After completing our tour of the natural wonders of the Caverns, we headed over to see some man-made ones at the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum. The admission to the Museum was included in the Cavern tour. Anyone into antique cars would have absolutely loved this place; they really had a wonderful collection of antique cars, carriages, and coaches dating back to 1725. We even saw Rudolph Valentino's 1925 Rolls Royce.

Luray Caverns was definitely a worthwhile side trip from Shenandoah.


The Luray Caverns are located along Route 211, about 11 miles west of the Thornton Gap Entrance to Shenandoah National Park, making it a nice side trip for those driving the scenic Skyline Drive through the Park.

The Caverns are the most visited caves in the east and have been recognized as a U.S. Natural Landmark. One-hour guided tours take visitors along well-lighted, paved walkways through cathedral-sized rooms filled with towering colorful stone columns and crystal clear pools. The Caverns are known for the beautiful rainbow of colors found on the cavern walls.

Perhaps the most popular stop along the tour is the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world's largest musical instrument. The Organ is actually a 3 ½ acre portion of the caverns covered by stalactites. In 1954, Leland W. Sprinkle, a scientist at the Pentagon, began a 3-year project of searching Luray Caverns for stalactites that precisely matched notes on the musical scale. Today, music is created when these stalactites are electronically tapped by rubber-tipped plungers controlled by an organist or animated system. The result is music of symphonic quality.

Luray Caverns is open 7 days a week, every day of the year. Guided tours of the Caverns are $19 for adults and $9 for children from 6-12.

The admission to the Caverns includes the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, which contains an impressive collection of antique cars, carriages, and coaches dating from 1725. Included in the collection are Rudolph Valentino's 1925 Rolls Royce and an 1892 Benz, one of the oldest cars in the country still in operating condition.

Luray Caverns location map

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