Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
Luray Caverns is a great daytrip destination in the MidAtlantic. It is just two hours away from either Washington, DC or Richmond, VA. Beyond its natural beauty, its proximity to other high destination areas makes the caverns very popular. Here are a few tips to consider to help you get the most out of your trip.
While walking through Luray, it is important to remember that the space was made for public exploration. The walkways are paved, handrails are installed throughout, and spotlights highlight areas and structures in the cavern that one might otherwise miss. The cavern is actually wheelchair accessible, and the entire walking path is actually a series of ramps.
The Luray tour is not like spelunking, but it many ways that is what makes it better. You can explore caverns with generational groups, groups of varying walking abilities, and groups with varying levels of history and science. The tour does not give one the sense that they are embarking on an archeological investigation, but it does succeed in educating visitors and enriching them with a sense of wonder about the natural world.
Luray audio tours come in English and a variety of other languages. Visitors can also choose between a tour with narration for adults and one for children. Both are quite interesting in their own way, though the children’s tour is much more interactive and dynamic. Adults may choose to take the children’s tour for more fun or engage in both the children’s and adult tour to get the full breadth of excitement and information available.
Arriving early at Luray is advised. Parking is plentiful, but as the day grows on, space becomes scarce and visitors resort to parking on the lawn or double parking further out from the entrance. Waiting in line is also an issue the later you arrive. On a recent weekend trip, the line for beginning the tour extended just a few people beyond the designated waiting area. An hour and a half later, the line wrapped around the entrance and down a long sidewalk crossing the café, gift shop, and restrooms.
When you come to the Luray entrance, you will be guided to purchase your tickets first before standing in line. Avoid having to stand in line twice and getting up to the front of the tour line only to realize that you need to buy your tickets first. When the line is long, knowing where to begin isn’t immediately clear. Go directly to the entrance first, check the signs and then walk to the appropriate line. When traveling with a group, save time by getting in line first and designating a single person to buy the tickets and come back.
Ticket admission prices also include access to the Luray Valley Museum and Gardens. Because so much is offered at such a reasonable price, plan to spend at least half a day there if you arrive early. Also, if you become hungry while at Luray, the café is available, but picnic areas are available, too. Several fast-food restaurants are just to the left after a 5- or 10-minute drive.
Also nearby are Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park, two popular areas among Virginia’s most scenic drives. For an extended trip, consider taking Skyline Drive down through the Blue Ridge Mountains.