Discovered in 1878 and more than 4,000,000 centuries old, Luray Caverns is eastern America’s largest and most popular caverns system—more than 500,000 people visit annually.
This U.S. Natural Landmark, noted for a variety of formations and unsurpassed natural color, hosted visitors from all 50 U.S. states and 41 foreign countries in 2019. From well-lighted, paved walkways with step-free access, travelers explore cathedral-sized rooms with ceilings 10 stories high and pass through huge chambers filled with towering stone columns, shimmering draperies and crystal-clear pools. The Smithsonian Institution report of July 13 and 14, 1880 comments “….it is safe to say that there is probably no other cave in the world more completely and profusely decorated with stalactite and stalagmite ornamentation than that of Luray Caverns.”
Among the many discoveries you’ll find on a one-hour tour of the Caverns is the haunting sound of the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument. This most unique one-of-a-kind instrument uses stalactites covering 3 1/2 acres of the surrounding caverns to produce tones of symphonic quality when electronically tapped by rubber-tipped mallets.
But awe-inspiring as the cave tour is, visitors should plan some extra time to take advantage of several additional enticements at the Caverns—the Car and Carriage Caravan, the Luray Valley Museum, and Toy Town Junction. All three are included in the price of admission to the Caverns. And there is still more—you can explore the Garden Maze and challenge yourself at the Rope Adventure Park for a separate fee.
The Car and Carriage Caravan Museum
The Car and Carriage Caravan Museum exhibits over 140 cars, carriages, coaches and costumes—dated as far back 1725. These “antiques on wheels” are all in running condition and beautifully displayed among period artifacts and costumes. Just a couple of highlights include: a new top-of-the-line Cadillac Double Tulip Touring Car that would set you back $950 (in 1906); and a 1914 Ford Model T Milk Wagon—made when milk was five cents a quart!
Fascinating to all is the elegant and extremely rare 1932 Rolls Royce Shooting Brake. A 1925 Silver Ghost Town Car, another Rolls with a connection to Rudolph Valentino, captures the spirit of the posh silent screen era. You can also see a Stanley Steamer, a Baker Electric (pictured above) and the oldest auto in operating condition on display in America, the 1898 Benz.
The Luray Valley Museum
The Luray Valley Museum is a collection of local, restored historic buildings creating a small 19th century farming community. A main building, the Stonyman, displays Shenandoah Valley artifacts in chronological delivery from the 1750’s. A 1536 bible from Germany, the centerpiece of the collection, connects the history of the early settlers to their European culture, decorative arts and search for religious freedom brought to Page County and the Shenandoah Valley.
Other historic, local buildings have been transported to the site and restored. For example, the Elk Run Meeting House, circa 1825, served as a barracks for hundreds of both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. You may also tour the Bell House, constructed in 1835 and home to the county’s first delegate to the Virginia General Assembly, the Burner Barn, the Hamburg Regular School, a Blacksmith Shop and the 1760 Willy House.
Toy Town Junction
As a child growing up in Pikeville, Kentucky, Richard Worden was fascinated by C&O trains. In 1941, at age five, he received his first toy train. With the country just emerging from the Great Depression, his parents sacrificed to purchase the Marx Copper electric train from the Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog.
Inspired by that first toy train, Richard began collecting in 1978. His collection grew to include more than 30 trains as well as cars and trucks. He began collecting themed Playmobil sets in the 1970s. Circus miniatures, dolls, and other collectibles round out the remarkable collection of several thousand toys and train related artifacts.
Throughout his life, Dr. Worden, a retired Methodist minister, shared the joy of his collection with family and friends. That joy is now multiplied many times over as visitors move among the treasures of his collection at Toy Town Junction. He arranged for Luray Caverns to exhibit the collection simply because he wanted to share the immense joy these toys gave him over the years.
The Garden Maze
Over 1500 evergreens create a ½ mile maze, one of the largest in the Mid-Atlantic states. The trees are eight feet tall and four feet wide and are enhanced with a misting fog at strategic locations to provide cooling and special effects. Navigating the twisting pathways leads adventurers past fountains and into a cave. At 40 points the challenger must choose a direction in order to solve the riddle. An elevated platform provides relief for the hopelessly lost. Admission: $10 Adults; $7 Children 6-12.
The Rope Adventure Park
This challenging, three-level ropes course consists of a series of real and imaginary obstacles designed to maximize the excitement of personal development. An activity the whole family can experience together, the course allows each participant to enjoy the thrill of doing something a bit out of their comfort zone but at their own pace.
Neither climbing techniques nor physical fitness experience are necessary. Each trail consists of several poles that are connected by different acrobatic elements. The park incorporates a sophisticated safety system using ropes, belay devices and harnesses with trained personnel supervising every participant. First-timers might opt for the Low Ropes Course, while the more adventurous choose the more difficult High Ropes Course. Plan on expanding your comfort zone—sometimes dramatically. There is even a near-ground level course for the littlest adventurers/ Admission: $11 for persons 48 inches tall and above and $7 for those under 48 inches.
Luray Caverns and the other attractions within the complex can keep you and your children occupied for quite awhile. Plan your trip for a long weekend take full advantage of this geologic wonder and the many other points of interest in and around Luray.