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Cavern Tours of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Caverns

Shenandoah Caverns

For years, I have been drawn to the beauty of underground landscapes.  There is something magical and adventurous about being hundreds of feet underground and viewing gorgeous rock formations.

I have been taking vacation trips and visiting caverns since I was 7 years old, and the sights of these underground worlds never cease to amaze me. I was pleased to find on my vacation that the northwestern part of Virginia offers many caverns to visit.

My first stop was at Luray Caverns, which was discovered in 1878 and is a U.S. Natural Landmark.  These caverns, the largest on the East Coast, are more than 4 million years old.  There are countless stalactite and stalagmite formations and underground lakes to view. 

At the “great stalactite organ,” a popular stop on the guided tour, you can hear the beautiful sounds made by rubber mallets that strike various-sized stalactites and create an enchanting song.  The neat “fried eggs” formation literally looks like eggs sunny side up.

My next stop was Shenandoah Caverns, which opened in 1922 and is famous for its myriad rock formations and an underground rainbow lake. This is an area of water with lights that have been strategically placed over it to make it look like a mystical castle area.

Virginia Caverns

Virginia Caverns

The ceiling reflects onto the water and creates the visual.  The limestone “breakfast bacon” formations look like, you guessed it, bacon strips.  Many crystalline formations here are simply breathtaking.

I continued my trip north and visited Endless Caverns in New Market, Virginia.  Discovered in 1879, these caverns also have bacon slices, as well as a fossilized mammoth’s tooth and a multitude of gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites.

I finished my vacation by visiting yet a fourth cavern area: Skyline Caverns in Front Royal, Virginia. These caverns were discovered in 1937 and were formed some 60 million years ago by an underground river that flowed through.

The path you walk upon is the actual riverbed that cut through the rocks millions of years ago. These caverns are famous for anthodites, which are beautiful white crystallized mineral growths that hang from ceiling and grow only an inch every 7,000 years—a stunning sight. 

If you're planning to make Virginia caverns future travel destinations, check out AAA.com's Virginia Travel Guide.