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After some wining and some dining it was time to experience what Luray is famous for: the caverns.

For as expensive as the Mimslyn Inn is, breakfast was not included. Complimentary tea, coffee and muffins were available but not until 7am. Z and I are early risers so ventured out to the local super market shortly before 7 and picked up some greek yogurt, cereal and apples. Along with the almond butter packets I brought along I was pretty proud of the meal I ended up throwing together.

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We lounged around for a bit before gathering our belongings, checking out and heading to the caverns. We arrived shortly after 10, and besides a few other cars in the parking lot the place was pretty empty. This was the view from said parking lot:

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Tours at Luray Caverns run every 20 minutes. This to me seems a little excessive, especially during the off-season, but to each their own. Tickets were $24 for an hour tour.

Our group consisted of myself, Z, a dad and his two teenage sons and another couple. Down into the caverns we went….

(Disclaimer: Let me just say from here on out that this pictures do not do it justice. I tried my best to capture the amazing things I saw but seeing it in person is 1000x better.)

Caves 101:

Knowing nothing about geology going in to this, here’s what I learned…

  • Mineral rich water seeps through the ground above and enters cave. The minerals collect into formations.
      • Stalactites: mineral formations on the ceiling resulting from entering.
      • Stalagmites: mineral formations on the ground formed by water dripping from the ceiling.
      • Columns: when the stalactites and stalagmites join together.
      • The different colors you see correspond to different minerals.
  • Luray Caverns is still growing…although not quickly. A formation will need 120 years per inch (source).

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Inside the Caverns:

Luray Caverns were discovered back in 1878. A tiny hole in the ground expelling cold air alerted explorers to its location. After some digging what they found was 400 million years in the making!

My favorite part of the tour was “Dream Lake.” What you see below is actually a body of water, no more than two feet deep, creating a perfect reflection of the ceiling above it.

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Even standing right up next to it you could barely tell there was water. It was so still and clear.

Towards the end of the tour we saw “The Wishing Well.” Visitors are encouraged to donate spare change, which creates a layer on the floor almost a foot deep. Every four years the sizeable amount of money collected from this area is donated to a charity. So far almost $900,000 has been collected from the well.

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Overall the tour was interesting and the sights were amazing. The science nerd in me found it so cool to be that close to something millions upon millions of years old.124

This, my friends, concludes our Luray get-a-way. It had a little bit of everything: wineries, fine dining, exercise and science. My kind of trip!

Question of the day:  Have you ever gotten the chance to visit a cavern? If so, where?

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