Our lukewarm visit to Smoke Hole Caverns in August had me craving a return visit to Luray Caverns, which I hadn't visited in almost 4 years. While I had memory of the caverns' most notable features, I had forgotten just how bursting it is with incredible formations in every direction, in every single room. It's truly impossible to capture with a camera the astonishing beauty these caverns have to offer. That being said, not like I wasn't going to try.
Dream Lake offers a convincing optical illusion of a deep floor full of large stalagmites, when in reality it's just a reflection of the ceiling on inches-deep water. There's much more to it than what I've included in this composition, and it's admittedly pretty disorienting to view in person.
Giant's Hall is probably my favorite location in the caverns, with its lofty ceiling and towering Totem Pole formations. The huge stalactites and draperies hanging from the ceiling felt like daggers pointing downward, especially from this elevated angle. Gathering a sense of scale here is difficult (a common theme of my photo set), but hopefully the walkway at the bottom of the frame helps to convey the massive feeling of this space.
Another view of Giant's Hall, taken from the lower level path seen in the previous photo. Minus a couple of other small groups, the caverns were almost completely empty during our self guided tour, which made for a peaceful and almost surreal experience.
The Double Column is found at the back of Giant's Hall, and in fact it's visible on the right side of both photos above. It was created from a stalactite and stalagmite, each independently reaching from the floor to ceiling, joined at the side. The large open airspace in this room gives the formation a feeling of importance, which is appropriate, since at 47 feet it's the tallest in the caverns.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ is the crown jewel of Luray Caverns. All throughout the caverns, certain stalactites are fitted with a small mallet and actuator, and produce tones when struck. These stalactites are spread across 3.5 acres within the caverns, making the organ the largest musical instrument in the world. Given how quiet it was without tour groups, it was possible to hear the organ clearly all throughout the caverns, which isn't something I've experienced before.
The Cathedral, the room that houses the actual keyboard, is especially stunning with its seemingly never ending layers of formations on the ceiling. The stalagtites hanging over the keyboard remind me a bit of a stage curtain, raised for an invisible performer.