Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
About a two-hours’ drive away from Washington, DC and Richmond, VA, lies a gorgeous stretch of land called the Shenandoah Valley. In it, miles of verdant land sit below hilltops and towering mountains that give way to some of the most dynamic views on the East Coast, all against the backdrop of open skies. Beneath it all are caverns—no less wondrous or magnificent because they are underground. In fact, hidden like gems, they are most intriguing precisely because we cannot see them daily. Luray Caverns in Virginia offers visitors the opportunity to see these wonders up close while also learning them about their history and science.
From the time you arrive to the moment you leave, you will find that the atmosphere at Luray is about promoting insightful, high-interest activities that educate and entertain. The site has a gift shop, café, garden maze, and adjacent museum to complement its main attraction: a one-hour, self-guided audio tour through 1.5 miles of magnificent caverns.
The caverns themselves are wide and spacious. After getting through the logistical matters of receiving an audio device and learning how to use it, you are left only with the natural surroundings above and beside you to explore at your own pace. Allow yourself to linger at the natural cavern lakes and water areas. These spaces have an intrinsic, calming feel to them that you cannot experience at any place outside the caverns.
Notice also the variety of color that the caverns display. Brown is a color you will see a lot of, but it is interesting to note how the reflection of light and water adds character to the rock. Bits of white and grays also appear, providing a dazzling contrast in a sea of brown hues. The entire landscape of the cavern is picturesque, and it seems to do more with just its simple palate of natural color than a person might initially imagine.
That the caverns can offer such a rich experience with something so simple as rock, or stalactites and stalagmites, is part of its charm. A woman I know marveled at the caverns and said, “You know, I really like nature…because it creates its own form of art.” Indeed, the cavities of the caverns are art, undeniably beautiful creations.