Daytripping in the Foothills of Luray Caverns in Virginia - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Daytripping in the Foothills of Luray Caverns in Virginia

Luray Caverns by Eddie Applefeld

Due to popular demand, either that or I needed to fill space, here are another 8 things that have recently caught my attention.

  1. Did you know if you count the chirps of crickets in 15 seconds and add 37 you can tell the temperature? I never tried it so I can’t vouch for that, but it sounds good.
  2. The northern hemisphere had its hottest summer in many decades; when the new season of SNL kicks off October 3 Jim Carrey will portray Joe Biden. That means he’ll be squaring off against Alec Baldwin as Trump.
  3. Speaking of SNL, congrats to Baltimore native Ego Nwodim, she will be joining the cast this season.
  4. Another Baltimore native doing well is actor Josh Charles (Sports Night, The Good Wife), he can now be seen in the Netflix series Away.
  5. Glad to hear of the re-opening of The Ivy Hotel (205 E Biddle), an upscale boutique hotel.
  6. The release of Wonder Woman has been pushed back to November.
  7. Sorry to hear about the closing of Mike’s Pizza in Arbutus, after six decades.
  8. Shofer’s Furniture is closing, after more than 100 years.

OK let’s head to Luray Caverns in Luray Virginia, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and about 9 miles from Shenandoah National Park/Skyline Drive, designated a U.S. Natural Landmark in 1973. No matter the temperature above ground, you descend about 160 feet at the deepest point, it is a constant 54 degrees with the humidity at 86%.

The main thing I wont to tell you is there is a new entrance/exit. No more steps. And there were about 60 steps. Now you walk down and up a 164-foot ramp that takes you directly into the caverns. You’ll pass literature that explains a little of the history. For example, it was discovered by accident in August 1878. Also, there are no more guided tours. You’re on your own.

However, you are given a brochure with 19 highlighted marked areas inside. You’ll travel about 1.25 miles.

It’s amazing to think these caverns were formed over millions of years. Today it is the 4th busiest attraction in Virginia and the 7th largest cavern in the east. A leisurely tour will take about an hour, but don’t rush, you can remain as long as you want. Just be mindful of the people behind you and try not to get lost.

One of the most popular attractions down under is The Great Stalacpipe Organ in an area known as the Cathedral. Before COVID weddings were held here. The organ is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest musical instrument in the world. The stalactites are used as tone sources. Rubber tipped mallets are electronically signaled to gently tap the stalactites, producing musical tones. The mallets cover 3 ½ acres. The organ has been in operation since 1957.

Adult admission is $30.00, ages 6 to 12 $15.00 and 62 or over $27.00. By the way, the caverns are not the only attraction at this

location. On the same grounds, you’ll find the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Stalactite Café, Shenandoah Heritage Village, Rope Adventure Park, Heartpine Café and the Garden Maze. Your ticket to the caverns is also good for the Car Museum.

For more information go to luraycaverns.com. It is owned by a privately held stock company. One more note, masks must be worn in the caverns.

You can do the caverns as a day trip. I went 695 to 70 west to 340 south. It should take about 2 ½ hours. But why not make it an overnight trip. It’s what I did and it makes for a much more relaxing day. I stayed at the Mimslyn Inn, about one mile from the caverns, with the exact address being 401 West Main Street, and like the caverns, nine miles to Shenandoah National Park/Skyline Drive.

It has 45 rooms between the main building and cottages in the back. My personal preference is the main building, but the choice is yours. Also if you’re staying in the main building ask for a room facing the front. You’ll have great views of the mountains.

Again, a personal choice. All rooms are good.

Amenities include an outdoor pool, spa, fitness center, two restaurants, a front porch for relaxing and views of the mountains, and a comfortable lobby. Be advised, with COVID, there are limitations on some of these. Check out 11 am, check-in about 4.

The Mimslyn is part of the Historic Hotels of America. It opened in 1931. Masks are required inside.

Over the years many famous people have stayed here. One memorable quote, ‘I don’t know about you Franklin, but I’m staying at the Mimslyn’. Uttered by Eleanor Roosevelt…..540-743-5105….mimslyninn.com


About the author

Eddie Applefeld

Eddie Applefeld is a Baltimore native and a graduate of Towson University. He has been in the broadcasting profession for over 30 years. Currently he is the Promotions Director of WCBM radio. Before that, he was part of the Rouse & Company show on WQSR, host of a cable TV show called Dining Out and adjunct instructor at Towson. His past accomplishments include being named a finalist in Baltimore Tourism's Employee of the Year Program and winner of Toastmaster's Speaker of the Year contest. He was also twice a heartthrob for the American Heart Association's gala fund raiser. Contact the author.
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