Luray may be a small community in the Shenandoah Valley, but the area is packed with outdoor adventure opportunities. From Shenandoah National Park to NASCAR racing, Luray invites you to visit and have fun as you explore.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park invites you to hike to a high spot along any of its many trails and take a seat to soak in the beauty of the forests and mountains running on for miles and miles. With about 500 miles of trails available, there’s one to meet your skill level and time limits.
The park identifies trails by color – blue is a hiking trail inside the park, white is part of the Appalachian Trail and yellow is a horseback riding trail. With about four dozen trails available, ranging from a couple of miles long to more than 50 miles, hikers can find the perfect trail to enjoy. Please check the park’s website regarding allowing dogs on trails, as there are opportunities to encounter wildlife on some trails.
While trails in three districts – north, central and south – offer a variety of views, many people enjoy hiking to waterfalls. While Shenandoah National Park is home to several waterfalls, four seem to stand out among the others, mainly for their access and short hiking distances. Overall Run Falls is worth the 6.5-mile roundtrip hike, as you can grab a seat on any of the rock ledges and watch the water crash 93 feet into a flowing creek. Rose River Falls offer up to four cascades during a 2.5-mile roundtrip hike. You’ll enjoy the woods, as well as the impressive waterfalls and creek. With a thunderous drop of 83 feet, South River Falls offers one of the tallest waterfalls in the park. Your hike to South River Falls will cover about 2.5 miles roundtrip. With a hike of about 3.5 miles roundtrip, Jones Run Falls offers a short drop of about 40 feet, with an area featuring rocks and moss.
Additional waterfalls are located along longer trails, including White Oak Canyon Falls, Lewis Falls and Doyle River Falls.
Shenandoah National Park offers backcountry camping among its attractions. Enjoy spending time in the wilderness, surrounded by nothing but Mother Nature’s gifts such as the woods, creeks and sounds of nature.
Grab a fishing rod and head to any of the 70 creeks and streams to catch your favorite fish. With a variety of fish available, including trout, the park requires catch and release of the fish.
The national also offers bicycling on the paved Skyline Drive, which must be shared with autos. Wildlife viewing and photography is allowed in the park, but you must maintain a minimum distance of 75 feet from the animals.
While it may be underground, no visit to Luray is complete without a trip to the Luray Caverns. Discovered in 1878, the caverns feature several rooms, with some 10 stories tall. Luray Caverns include lighted paths and staircases as you proceed from room to room. You can enjoy the view of the Totem poles, stalagmites that resemble Native American totems.
Nearby is Saracen’s Tent, with its perfectly designed drape of stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The third main attraction Giant’s Hall, with a spire that stands about 47 feet tall. Inside the Cathedral room stands the Stalacpipe Organ, which is programmed to make music by incorporating stalactites.
As you take a tour through the caverns you will come upon Dream Lake, which contains shallow water. But, the reflection of the stalagmites and stalactites create beautiful images.
Open daily, the caverns aren’t wheelchair accessible because of the staircases. I loved this aspect.
Your general admission ticket to Luray Caverns also includes admission to three other nearby attractions – Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, Toy Town Junction and Luray Valley Museum. With vintage cars and carriages dating back to the 19th century, a visit to the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum provides an impressive walk through automotive and pop culture history, as some of the cars were once owned by notable business people and celebrities such as Rudy Valentino.
Toy Town Junction features a train and toy collection that was donated to the museum, dating back to the mid-20th century. The Luray Valley Museum explores the region’s history and features a farming community, as well as the area’s first school for African American children. The museum truly offers an interesting look into the valley’s history.
**There are two places to eat onsite and they do offer some glutenfree items such as nachos and snack type items.
With miles of trails, fishing and picnicking opportunities, Hawksbill Greenway is a great spot for a little nature loving not far from the city. Located about two hours from Washington, DC, the Luray park features a two-mile paved trail, perfect for walks or bicycle riding. Bring a picnic basket with you and enjoy lunch along the trail with any of the eight picnic tables or green spaces along the trail.
Bird watching fans will enjoy an opportunity to check out any of the bird species that call the Shenandoah National Park home, as some of the birds make their away along the Hawksbill Greenway. Your outdoor adventure is enhanced with an opportunity to see unique birds such as the belted kingfisher, pileated woodpecker or the American goldfinch.
Anglers can head to Hawksbill Creek for a fly fishing experience. The area is home to almost 40 species of fish, including trout and bass.
Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouse
The Showalter family has been raising apples since 1965. Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouse produces about 25 varieties of apples on a 50-acre orchard. Visitors are encouraged to pick their own apples during harvest, which runs August-October. In addition, the family has produced its own brand of apple juice that can be found in local stores as well as orchard’s onsite market.
The Showalters weighed growing grapes for their own line of wine products a few years ago, but decided that apple cider was a better route. So, they created Old Hill Cider, instead. The cider has proven to be a favorite among adults.
The family also grows annuals, perennials and vegetables in their greenhouse, which are available for purchase. The orchard also hosts special events throughout the year.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love checking out the menu at Appalachian Adventures. Located near Shenandoah National Park, the outdoor activities company offers a variety of sporting opportunities, including ATV rentals and horseback riding. Water enthusiasts can explore the region by renting jet skis, canoes and kayaks, as well as party boats. Anglers will enjoy guide-led fishing excursions.
Bear Mountain Ziplines
Channel your inner tree climbing self and set out to conquer Bear Mountain’s seven zipline-course, which features several challenges along the way. Cross rope and wooden bridges as you access each zipline to cover a 2,700-foot long course. The final zipline takes you on a 1,000-foot long adventure as you clear the trees to the landing zone in a meadow. While at Bear Mountain Ziplines, check out the climbing wall which takes you three stories above ground.
Grab a helmet and become a NASCAR race driver. Or, check out renting a spot at the Shenandoah Speedway where you can actually drive your car or any other car around the oval track. Or, you can buy a ticket to watch professional NASCAR drivers take their cars on to the banked track, with races held April through October.
Luray, Virginia, invites you to visit any of its outstanding attractions. From one of the country’s most beautiful national parks to ziplining over the woods to picking apples in an orchard, Luray is home to an impressive outdoor adventure for you and your family.
Have you been to this area before? I’d love to hear what you enjoyed the most! Drop a comment below.