Discovered by enterprising spelunkers in 1878, Luray Caverns quickly became a sensation, and its impressive formations attracted well-known explorers, scientists and writers from the Smithsonian, Encyclopedia Britannica and The New York Times. Designated a National Landmark in 1974, Luray Caverns receives a half-million visitors a year to its other-worldly landscape 164 feet beneath the Earth’s surface.

Luray Caverns features illusion-producing mirror lakes, towering rock formations and the other-worldly tones of a stalactite pipe organ. Tapping on the stalactites produces a bell-like sound, and visitors are treated to concerts played on Luray’s ‘Stalacpipe Organ.’ A vast wonderment, the caverns have been millions of years in the making, with the intricate and varied formations growing only one inch every 120 years. The caverns are naturally colorful. Pure calcium produces crystalline white formations. Iron produces yellow, orange and red hues in the stone. Copper produces blue and green colors in the formations, and manganese blackens them.

Luray Caverns offers daily guided tours. The tour is accessed by stairs that lead down to a walking path that winds through the cavern. The cavern rooms are large with vaulted, cathedral-like ceilings. The packed dirt path is wide and fairly level and even, although it is a little wet and possibly slippery in places. The guided tour lasts one hour and takes visitors past all of the cavern’s famed formations. At the end of the tour stairs lead back up to the surface.

This family-friendly destination features a gift shop and two cafes. Included with the price of admission are the Luray Valley Museum, Car and Carriage Museum, Toy Town Junction and the Luray Singing Tower. The Luray Valley Museum is an open-air museum that features a walking path through restored 19th century buildings including a Dunkard Meeting House, the Bell House, the Burner Barn, and the Hamburg School, an African-American one-room schoolhouse. Toy Town Junction features miniatures and toy trains. The Luray Singing Tower performs seasonal recitals with a 47-bell carillon. There is an outdoor picnic area with spectacular views of the Blue Ridge. In addition to the admission price of the Caverns, visitors can enjoy the Rope Adventure Park, Garden Maze and Gem Sluice.

Pictured at the top: Aptly named, Mirror Lake reflects the stalactites above creating an optical illusion of stalagmites in the water below.

luray caverns formations

Luray’s water and rock formations produce an oftentimes surreal landscape.

luray caverns dream lake

Dream Lake creates the illusion of a dreamy landscape with formations above and below the water.

luray caverns saracens tent

Saracens Tent features massive, yet intricate, draping formations.