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  1. #1

    Default Caverns in Virginia

    Snacktime and I are heading for an exploration of Virginia. Of course it will involve hiking the trail (and in different sections to get an idea of all of the state). But we're also planning on doing some other educational sightseeing, and could use some opinions. We'd like to see some caverns, and I've narrowed it down to Luray, Shenandoah, or Natural Bridge. Any opinion on which would provide: best educational experience, most fun, easiest to access from trail, lodging that is not ridiculously expensive (hostel or camp works for us). Our trip will be mid-late Sept, weekday (unless FarmerChef would like to join us with his kids, then weekend if necessary).

    Any opinions?
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  2. #2
    Coach Lou coach lou's Avatar
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    I did a tour once of DC, Skyland,SNP, down to Luray, then up to Gettysburg for 2 days.

  3. #3
    Hopeful Hiker QHShowoman's Avatar
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    As far as caverns go, Luray is probably the most impressive and it's closer to the trail than Shenandoah Caverns. You can camp right in SNP at Matthews Arm campground or, up in Bentonville, in Shenandoah River State Park, which is my favorite campground in that area. You can reserve a site for either online.
    you left to walk the appalachian trail
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  4. #4

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    thank you....just the info I'm looking for
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by coach lou View Post
    I did a tour once of DC, Skyland,SNP, down to Luray, then up to Gettysburg for 2 days.
    We've accomplished 2 of these so far Coach. We've done extensive DC exploration (family & political connections helped there) and we've been to Gettysburg as part of our 4th grade trip. I've been on the Blue Ridge Pkwy with my husband, but Snacktime has not. We'll definitely be exploring Skyland, SNP,....all along the mtns of VA from Damascus back to HF. We have time to spend and LOTS of curiosity.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  6. #6
    Registered User FarmerChef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher & Snacktime View Post
    Snacktime and I are heading for an exploration of Virginia. Of course it will involve hiking the trail (and in different sections to get an idea of all of the state). But we're also planning on doing some other educational sightseeing, and could use some opinions. We'd like to see some caverns, and I've narrowed it down to Luray, Shenandoah, or Natural Bridge. Any opinion on which would provide: best educational experience, most fun, easiest to access from trail, lodging that is not ridiculously expensive (hostel or camp works for us). Our trip will be mid-late Sept, weekday (unless FarmerChef would like to join us with his kids, then weekend if necessary).

    Any opinions?
    Thanks for the shout out, Teacher. The only one I've ever been to is Luray caverns. Lots of school field trips make there way down there. All three are, I believe, privately held and have that usually privately held funk about them (merchandising, upsells, "and new this year..." etc.). The tour docents at the caverns are pretty good though the most recent one I had was clearly not an expert on the science of the caves - she did deliver her script very well. What always kills me about Luray is that they filed down stalactites? to make the "pipe organ." Knowing how long it took them to form it just breaks my heart, even as a conservatory trained musician. Still, it is always a good time and not terribly expensive.

    A friend of mine from the office who went to visit Natural Bridge was not impressed and felt like he didn't get a good value for his money. But that's all I can say about that. I've never been myself.

    As for joining you, our weekends are probably toast between the start of school and cub scouts. But we might be able to squeeze in a trip down. I'll know more after next week.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

  7. #7

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    FC....once we get to HikerMom's we'll be in a better position ourselves to plan the rest of the trip, but I thought a "heads up" might be in order.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  8. #8

    Default Grand Caverns

    While I've never visited any Virginia caverns, my sister-in-law, a chemist by profession, recently visited Grand Caverns (formerly known as Weyer's Cave and as The Grottoes of the Shenandoah), situated along the western foothills of the Blue Ridge near the present-day communities, oddly enough, of Weyer's Cave and Grottoes. I haven't a clue how the caverns compare to Luray, Shenandoah, etc, but my sister-in-law raved about her visit. Their website is pretty good and might be worth a look as you consider what to visit.

    If your educational interests include Civil War history, Grand Caverns is also near Port Republic, VA, Cross Keys, VA, and Browns Gap. Stonewall Jackson's 1862 Valley Campaign included engagements at Fort Republic and Cross Keys, and Browns Gap was traversed by entire Confederate armies seeking to "get the drop" on the Union forces by disappearing from the Valley into the Blue Ridge Mountains and re-entering the Valley via a different gap to the north or south. I personally find it amazing to visit Browns Gap and Fisher's Gap and envision thousands and thousands of men and their wagons and caissons passing through.

    AO

  9. #9

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    Thank you, AO. The "Grottoes" are on the website we were scanning, but didn't seem to have the draw. This is exactly why I was hoping for input. It's easy to go to the most popular places, but they may not always be the best.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  10. #10

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    I really enjoyed Luray Caverns. It has lots of formations that are quite beautiful. Having been to Mammoth Cave many times, which doesn't have the formation density, I think Luray Caverns is what most people think they are going to see when they go to a cave. I took my nephew there for his first cave trip, and he thought it was great. I will never forget when the guide told us that the next formation was Ghost Rock, or something like that, his little 8 year old face looked up at me earnestly and announced, "There's no such thing as ghosts."

    Sent from my SCH-S720C using Tapatalk 2

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pringles View Post
    I really enjoyed Luray Caverns. It has lots of formations that are quite beautiful. Having been to Mammoth Cave many times, which doesn't have the formation density, I think Luray Caverns is what most people think they are going to see when they go to a cave. I took my nephew there for his first cave trip, and he thought it was great. I will never forget when the guide told us that the next formation was Ghost Rock, or something like that, his little 8 year old face looked up at me earnestly and announced, "There's no such thing as ghosts." Sent from my SCH-S720C using Tapatalk 2
    Love that story....and I have one too, of course. When Snacktime was around 3yrs old, we were all staying at a lakeside cabin in Maine for a family vacation. One evening, as we sat around the firepit, the loons on the lake were calling. Snacktime asked his mom "ghosts?" and she replied "no, honey, just birds". He then asked in the same scared little voice "ghost birds?" In our family they've been ghostbirds ever since.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  12. #12

    Default Caverns in Virginia

    My apologies for not being able to copy what was said ( must be user error) but having grown up in the DC area and still get back there all the time I agree wholeheartedly with QHshowoman. Luray is the way to go for caverns. Have a blast you are picking a great time of year!

  13. #13
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    Is Shenandoah Caverns the one near Front Royal? If so, not impressive. Luray Caverns? Very impressive.
    If you ever come down to FL, the Florida Caverns near Marianna have very many impressive formations.

    BTW, the Luray Caverns Motel across from the caverns has the nicest rooms with views of Hawksbill and the Shennies.
    I'm not really a hiker, I just play one on White Blaze.

  14. #14
    Registered User johnnybgood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Blazer View Post
    Is Shenandoah Caverns the one near Front Royal? If so, not impressive. Luray Caverns? Very impressive..
    Skyline Caverns are near Front Royal. I have been to them all , and Luray is the best bang for the buck, hands down.

    The Mimslyn in downtown Luray is a restored early 1930's luxury hotel that is walking distance to cafe's and boutique shops.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

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    There is also a garden maze next to the parking lot at Luray. I don't know if it's 'good' or what it costs, but it might be a little extra fun, although not educational.

  16. #16
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    Having read your entire post ,my apologies for that, the luxury hotel is not what you want.

    The cheaper alternative, and more enjoyable for kids, would be this campground only 10 minutes away from the caverns ; www.campluray.com/rates

    Hope you have fun.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  17. #17

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    Thanks, jbg.....the idea of "luxury" is nice, but not in the budget. I'll check out the campsite
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

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    I grew up in Galax, Roanoke and Augusta County and I've been to most of the caverns near there. I think that all of the caverns have their good points. I enjoyed the caverns period. Now that I live in Texas, I can say that I've been to Carlsbad in New Mexico and Sonora Caverns in Texas. I would say Luray and then as many of the others that you can.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
    Skyline Caverns are near Front Royal. I have been to them all , and Luray is the best bang for the buck, hands down.

    The Mimslyn in downtown Luray is a restored early 1930's luxury hotel that is walking distance to cafe's and boutique shops.
    Skyline. Right. Not impressive IMO. YMMV.

    If you ever come to FL check out the FL Caverns. Very impressive.

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    I'm not really a hiker, I just play one on White Blaze.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siarl View Post
    I grew up in Galax, Roanoke and Augusta County and I've been to most of the caverns near there. I think that all of the caverns have their good points. I enjoyed the caverns period. Now that I live in Texas, I can say that I've been to Carlsbad in New Mexico and Sonora Caverns in Texas. I would say Luray and then as many of the others that you can.
    This is the plan! We've decided that Luray will be our first cave experience, but if time and finances allow we'll try to take in one of the others too. Thanks for the input!
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

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