Entering Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns is the largest caverns in the eastern United States and it never sells out of tickets. So, we decided just to pull up and grab a spot when we arrived. A security guard buzzed our admission in and the gates to the underworld opened up. The beginning of the path was dimly lit with lanterns adorning the cave walls, but soon enough it opened into a wide gallery.
“YOU SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN A TOUR GUIDE BOOKLET UPSTAIRS, PLEASE REFER TO THE NUMBERS ON THE PAMPHLET TO ENJOY A SELF-GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE CAVERNS,” a worker shouted way-too-loudly for a quiet place that is essentially an echo chamber.
“Got it, thanks,” we said with half-smiles, seeing how quickly we could get out of this section before she shouted at the next unsuspecting guests down the line.
Fighting the Tourists
Following the path, the cave walls seemed to come together, creating a grand arched door leading us from section to section. Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed, rather than the stalagmites, was the giant selfie stick that seemed to be hovering within five feet of my face wherever I went. Forgive me, but I don’t think friends and family back home would be all too heartbroken to see you didn’t send them a selfie in front of every single rock you found in Luray Caverns.
Hurrying by the touristic couple, I couldn’t believe our fate. A sapphire wishing well twinkled in the dim lights, as if it was sent straight from the heavens. Quickly dug a quarter out, I flung it into the deep end, wishing away any sticks that had to do with selfies during my time underground.
Eating With My Eyes
I don’t know if it was because we were nearing lunchtime after our big hike, or if the cave truly resembled this, but eventually every formation started looking like it was made by a Michelin chef.
I walked over a three tier butterscotch cake, fit for a Kardashian wedding and passed by a gooey plate of sticky buns, their vanilla frosting melting over the side of the stack. Fields of mushrooms, ready to be harvested lined the cave walls. I suppose I wasn’t the only one who felt this way because when I came upon two sunny side up eggs, I found that they were actually recognized for their poultry-like features in the guidebook.
Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall
By far, my absolute favorite part of this underground paradise was the mirror pool. If you were just strolling by, you might see a field of stalagmites and stalactites. However, if you looked closely, you would find that the stalagmites underneath were nothing more than a reflection. The pool of water in this area was so still that it created a mirror effect, so difficult to see by the eye, unless a lone ripple was sent across to signal it. I wonder what the guy who discovered this in 1878 thought. This was jaw-dropping. I still look back at the videos I’d taken underground and have to second-guess as to whether I am really seeing the rocks or the reflections.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ
We wound through the curving pathway in here until it opened up to reveal another grand arena, equipped with a worker, although this one was nowhere near as loud as the last. In fact, he was mute…and wearing AirPods. Next to him, rested a vintage piano upon a pedestal: The Great Stalacpipe Organ.
As we ogled over it, wondering if it played or not, he began the music. Perhaps, he was wearing the AirPods because his alternative was listening to the same ancient song for the rest of his shift. Allegedly, this piano is actually the world’s largest musical instrument. With a gentle tap, the stalactites throughout three acres in the caverns began to sing. The music notes bounced around the walls, echoing back down to us. I have to admit, although the song wasn’t as elegant as I’d hoped, it was a pretty spectacular display.
By now, we’d spent almost an hour and a half exploring a world without sunlight and our time was coming to an end. Greeted with another arched cave wall, we wandered through the tube, reuniting with the dimly lit lanterns and making our way back into the real world.