Virginia 2013: Luray Caverns

Thursday, February 18, 2016

In 2013, Josh and I were originally planning to go to NOLA for our vacation.  However, with wedding planning in full swing, we soon discovered that NOLA was not a fiscally responsible choice.  So, we decided to keep it close to home and do some exploring in nearby Virginia.

Our first official stop on our VA Vacation was Luray Caverns.  Luray was right on the way from our house to Harrisonburg; about 45 minutes before Harrisonburg, which is where we were staying.  I always wanted to visit the caverns while I was at JMU, but sadly never got the chance.  Josh had been there once before but he was very young.  This was one thing that we definitely knew we wanted to do on this trip and it didn't disappoint.

Luray Caverns was discovered in 1878.  The formations are mostly made from limestone and a mildly acidic mixture of water and carbon dioxide and formed over millions of years.   These formations form really slowly at about 1 cubic inch per 120 years.  The formations that form on the ground and work their way towards the ceiling are called Stalagmites and the formations that form from the ceiling down are called Stalactites.  When these two meet, they form columns.

This is Dream Lake an this picture is actually of a reflection.  The bottom part is a very large but shallow pool of water which reflects the top part.  It really does look like there is formations growing from the bottom.  The guide shined a light into the water to show us how shallow it really was, 20 inches at its deepest.

The formation that is glowing is called Pluto's Ghost.  This is because the men who first discovered the caverns saw this formation 3 different times, and each time they saw it, it got closer.  So, they believed it was haunting them.  We also saw this formation three different times.

That little ball there is actually what happens when people touch the formations.  The oils from your hands will actually stunt the growth of the formations.  However, when the caverns first opened, they did not know this.

This formation is called the cave bat.  There are no real bats in this cave because of the way is formed, there is really no entry and exit points for bats.  So, they say that this is their cave bat.

They called this one the Shaggy Dog for obvious reasons.  It is huge.

The Camel

National Geographic called this one of the most beautiful drapings in the world.  It is located in Saracen's Tent.  

Saracen's Tent is one of the most perfectly formed stone draperies in the world.

This column fell during in earthquake thousands of years ago.

This area is refereed to as Totem Pole area for obvious reasons.

This is the Double Column located in Giant's Hall.  This formation is 74 feet tall!  This is the largest room in the Caverns.

This is the Wishing Well.  People make wishes and toss their coins in and then Luray Caverns Drains this water and donates all of the money to Charities.  The water is discolored due to the copper in the coins.

These are the Fried Eggs, another example of what happens when people touch the formations.

That is the end of the Tour at Luray Caverns.  We had a really small group on our tour which made it so much better.  The tour was a little over an hour long and requires about a mile of walking with frequent stops.  Our tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable (and super nerdy, which I loved).  There are also other small museums right next to the Caverns which are included in the ticket price but we decided to skip them.   I would definitely recommend a trip to Luray Caverns if you are ever in the area, it really is very beautiful.

P.S. It is really chilly in the caverns as you are underground.  I didn't think of this and went down in a tank top and shorts.  I wasn't freezing but I would have been more comfortable had I worn a sweater.

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