This summer, explore all of Virginia’s natural beauty by taking a trip underground and visiting the state’s variety of caverns.
Since these attractions are below the surface, temperatures stay cool. Traversing the caverns is the perfect summer activity to escape the heat and learn about Virginia’s environment.
Luray Caverns, the eastern U.S.’ largest caverns, has been designated a Registered Natural Landmark by the National Park Service and Department of the Interior. It’s home to the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument with 37 different stalactites spanning 3.5 acres. Luray Caverns includes grand rock formations, all made of a crystalline form of limestone, like Titiana’s Veil, a white calcite formation, and Giant’s Hall, a 47-foot chamber of towering stalactites and stalagmites. While the caverns have a constant 54-degree temperature, with high humidity, it feels like 65 degrees.
Until Labor Day, Luray Caverns is open every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Regular self-guided tour tickets for children ages 6 to 12 are $16; adult tickets are $32; tickets for seniors 62 and older are $29. Children under 6 can visit at no cost. Tickets can be purchased on site or online.
Luray Caverns also offers a Discovery Tour, a one-hour tour where an 1870s-inspired tour guide tells you about the discovery of Luray Caverns. It’s held daily at 8:30 a.m. Discovery Tour tickets are $30 for children 6 to 12 and $60 for adults. Free for under age 6. 101 Cave Hill Rd., Luray
Since 1922, Shenandoah Caverns has been a Virginia attraction. An elevator takes you 200 feet underground to see the stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone.
Some notable rock formations include “Breakfast Bacon,” a formation that resembles the breakfast staple that National Geographic featured in 1964. There is also Rainbow Lake with an array of vibrant and glowing colors.
The caverns are open seven days a week. One-hour guided tours are about a mile long and start at 9 a.m. and go until 5 p.m. until Labor Day. Tickets for children 6–12 are $28; adult tickets are $32. Children under 6 are free. After the tour, have a meal at the Caverns Café, an authentic 1950s diner. 261 Caverns Rd., Shenandoah
Located in New Market, Endless Caverns offers the longest commercial cave tour in Virginia. Endless Caverns was discovered in 1879 at the base of the Massanutten Mountain range. The temperature inside is 55 degrees. The caverns stretch six miles, and some areas have yet to be explored. Some popular formations include Fairy Land, a chamber filled with several drip-like chambers, and the Lodge Room, a large room of rocky structures discovered in 1991.
Through Labor Day, 75-minute tours are under a mile and are held every hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for children 4–12 are $14, and adult tickets are $25. Children under 4 are free. 1800 Endless Caverns Rd., New Market
Skyline Caverns in Front Royal is one of the few places where you can see anthodite formations. These crystals grow in all directions, defying gravity and making for an impressive sight. The Chandelier at Skyline Caverns is 18 inches long and the largest and oldest anthodite ever discovered. In addition to the anthodites, enjoy the 37-foot Rainbow Waterfall, along with three underground streams. The caverns are 54 degrees year-round.
Skyline Caverns is open every day. One-hour caverns tours are available every day from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tickets for children 6–12 are $14, and adult tickets are $28. Free for children under 6. 10344 Stonewall Jackson Hwy., Front Royal
The Caverns at Natural Bridge dip 34 stories underground and have 185 steps. The caverns are a constant 54 degrees. Popular attractions include the Colossal Dome room, a large chamber of stunning flowstone masses. There is also Mirror Lake and the Canyon Room, where stalactites and stalagmites continue to grow.
Guided tours last about 45 minutes and are given daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for children ages 3–12 are $13, and adult tickets are $20. Children under 3 are free. In addition to tours, you can mine for gems daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. After a day at the caverns, visitors can explore Natural Bridge State Park. 15 Appledore Ln., Natural Bridge
Feature image by Jenna French
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