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Virginia’s underground evolving masterpiece

by Ana Eastep

By Gina Gallucci-White

When visiting the small town of Luray, Va., you may be tempted to fill up your camera with images from the picturesque Shenandoah Valley; however, nature’s beauty can also be found in abundance underground.

Luray Caverns features breathtaking formations of stalactites and stalagmites through a series of limestone caves created millions of years ago by underground rivers and water seepage. First discovered in 1878, the attraction features caverns reaching heights between 30 to 140 feet. The site is the largest cavern and one of the most popular in Eastern America.

Be sure to check out a playing of the stalactite organ which was constructed in 1956 using 37 stalactites and rubber-tipped plungers to create musical sounds. 

After exploring the caverns, head to the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum which features more than 140 artifacts relating to transportation dating all the way back to 1725. Tickets also include admission into the Shenandoah Heritage Village featuring a collection of local, restored historic buildings creating a small 19th century farming community. 

For those with mobility issues, the destination recently became step-free throughout. Steps inside the cavern were removed between 1954 to 1975, but steps to get to the natural landmark’s entrance remained. In 2017, construction began on a 164-foot corridor which dug into the hillside bypassing the steps, but still getting guests to the cave entrance. Opened in 2019, the attraction is one of the only step-free underground venues in the world.  

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