Luray Caverns

Useful Information

Luray Caverns, USA. Public Domain.
Mirror Lake, Luray Caverns, USA. Public Domain.
Mirror Lake, Luray Caverns, USA. Public Domain.
Location: Luray, Virginia, 150 km West of Washington D.C.
From the east I 66 West to Gainesville, Rt 29 south, in Warrenton Rt 211 West. From other directions I 81, exit 264, then Route 211 East.
(38.663823, -78.485031)
Open: APR to 14-JUN daily 9-18.
15-JUN to Labor Day daily 9-19.
Labor Day to OCT daily 9-18.
NOV to MAR Mon-Fri 9-16, Sat, Sun 9-17.
Fee: Adults USD 32, Children (6-12) USD 16, Children (0-5) free, Seniors (62+) USD 29.
Groups (20+): Adults USD 19, Children (6-12) USD 11, Students USD 8.50.
Group rates only with reservations at least 14 days in advance.
Discounts with AAA membership card, Martin's BonusCard, and Giant BonusCard.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. Early Ordivician Beakmantown Dolomite.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: VR=50 m, T=12 °C.
Guided tours: D=60 min, L=2,000m
Accessibility: yess
Address: Luray Caverns, PO Box 748, U.S. Hwy. 211, Luray, VA 22835, Tel. +1-540-743-6551, E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


13-AUG-1878 discovered by the tinsmith Andrew Campbell.
10-SEP-1878 land including cave sold to Benton Stebbins, Billy Campbell, and Andrew Campbell.
1881 the purchase was nullified by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
SEP-1881 13 arc lights installed powered by an engine driven generator.
1901 early air conditioning used cool air from the cave.
1905 bought by Col. Theodore Clay Northcott.
1921 new lighting system with light bulbs installed.
1936 new lighting system installed under the supervision of the General Electric Company.
1954 inception of the Wishing Well.
1956 Stalacpipe Organ invented.
1968 the facilities were expanded and the lighting redone.
1978 Luray Caverns became a Natural Landmark.
1983 indirect lighting system installed.
1988 The Guinness Book of World Records recognized Luray's Stalacpipe Organ as the world's largest natural musical instrument.


Luray Caverns, USA. Public Domain.
Luray's Stalacpipe Organ, Luray Cavern, USA. Public Domain.
Luray Caverns, USA. Public Domain.
Luray's Stalacpipe Organ, a hammer at a stalactite, Luray Cavern, USA. Public Domain.
Luray Caverns, USA. Public Domain.
Luray Caverns, USA. Public Domain.

Luray Caverns is a large cavern with many speleothems. Some of them are partly man-made: the Fried Eggs are two stalagmites, broken by workmen constructing a pathway 30 years ago. The left behind bases are a chance for visitors to see the inside of a stalagmite. And they show how nature starts to heal the damage by rebuilding the stalagmites, the growing stub looks like the egg yolk of a fried egg.

A strange construction is Luray's Stalacpipe Organ. In the Cathedral 37 stalactites were adjusted to a perfect pitch, the tone is produced by a series of rubber-tipped plungers placed next to each stalactite. It is played from a keyboard looking like a normal organ. The organ was invented and built over 40 years ago by Leland Sprinkle an electronics engineer and accomplished organist. While the organ is quite a massive modification of the cave and many stalactites were damaged for it, it can at least be assumed that the hammers do not damage the stalactites further. They are preferable to a cave guide who "plays" on stalactites by hand. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that such an instrument could still be created under modern cave management and protection regulations. In any case, the cave operators are proud of their organ and claim that it is the largest musical instrument in the world because the stalactites are spread over 14,000 m².

Also very special is the Luray Caverns Wishing Well. As wishing wells are harmful to the cave and its formations, destroying the cave by releasing metal oxides into the clear cave water, they are usually nothing but a compromise with cave owners (who earn money with it) and visitors (who demand it). USA Today once described this one as "probably the world's most productive". Since 1954, over 20 million coins or half a million dollars, have been thrown into it. As this money is used for social purposes like a hospital donation or a educational grant, this well has a really good excuse.

Luray Caverns was discovered by Andrew Campbell, tinsmith from nearby Luray, on 13-AUG-1878, while walking with his nephew,Quint Andrews. They found the cave when they discovered a small draft of air. Only three local men knew about the cave, Benton Stebbins, Billy Campbell, and Andrew Campbell. They kept the secret until the land went up for sale, then they bought it in an auction for a price of $507.75. But the purchase was nullified by the Supreme Court of Virginia, because the caverns location was kept a secret and the true value of the land was not realized until after purchase.

The land now belonged to William T. Biedler, son-in-law of original owner, Samuel Buraker. But the ownership of Luray Caverns changed several times, until Col. Theodore Clay Northcott bought it from the Shenandoah Valley Railroad for a sum of $60,000. He started a family business which is now in the fourth generation!

In 1901 Col. Theodore Clay Northcott built an air conditioning system into the sanitarium Limair, using the cool air from the cave. Limair was built directly above Luray Caverns, he then installed a five-foot shaft into the cave and a few fans. The air of the entire house was changed every four minutes and, even on the hottest of days, Limair remained a comfortable 21 °C.

Tickets for the cave tour can be purchased online or at the cave. The visit to Luray Caverns includes a self guided cave tour with audio system and several other attractions. The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum has over 75 historic vechicles. Highlight is an 1897 Mercedes-Benz, the 1908 Baker Electric, or the 1925 Rolls Royce which was once owned by silent movie star Rudolph Valentino. The Shenandoah Heritage Village is a 7 acre open air museum of a small 19th century farming community. One building contains the Luray Valley Museum, one is the 1835 home of the county’s first Delegate to the Virginia General Assembl, and one is the Hamburg Regular School, the area’s first school for African American children. Toy Town Junction is a toy museum based on the collection of Dr. Richard Worden. Additional sights are the Gem Sluice, where you can wash gold and gems, and the Garden Maze, the largest hedge maze in the Mid-Atlantic states. The Rope Adventure Park is a climbing experience on two different level. This is the only part which has additional entrance fees, the rest is included. As far as we understand it is not possible to visit only the cave.