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The two RV Gypsies took a private tour of Skyline Caverns
10344 Stonewall Jackson Highway
in Front Royal, Virginia
August 15, 2014

Skyline Caverns, is a series of geologic caves and a tourist attraction located in Front Royal, Virginia. The caverns were discovered on December 17, 1937 by Walter S. Amos, a retired geologist and mineralogist from Winchester, Virginia. The Skyline Caverns is open year-round, offering guided tours through the caverns. In addition to the cavern tours, there is also a mirror maze.

history bookWalter S. Amos was contracted by several private and government agencies to search for caves and caverns to open in conjunction with Skyline Drive. During his search, he came across the current parking lot of the caverns, which he noticed was in the shape of a sinkhole. Normally sinkholes are created by the collapsing of a cavern roof, which takes the ground above with it. He noticed that there was no water in this sinkhole, therefore he knew there had to be a drain nearby, most likely a cavern.

Knowing this, Amos began to search the edges for some opening to the possible cave system below. He found this opening on the lip of the sinkhole by noticing a small colony of camel crickets (which only live in damp, dark areas by nature) under a small ledge.

Upon digging out the first area of the caverns, he came into a large system of connected rooms, most of which were navigable and cleared from all obstructions. 90% of the caverns were naturally accessible and other than the entrance area, only 10% needed to be dug out. The use of scientific analysis makes the discovery of Skyline Caverns extremely unique.

However, the cavern floor was lined with approximately 14 inches of mud and clay, which had to be cleared before the caverns could be opened to the public on April 13, 1939.

The caverns are estimated to be approximately 50 to 60 million years old.

Skyline Cavern and mirror maze sign
Skyline Caverns sign

The underground temperature permanently hovered at 54 degrees.

sign abover entrance to Skyline Caverns
inside Skyline Caverns

The two RV Gypsies actually got a private tour of the Skyline Caverns because it just happened that they were the only two people that signed up and paid for the tour at this time. Lucky them! Tours normally depart every 15 to 20 minutes, lasting approximately one hour and cover about a mile and one-eighth of walking. This covers about twenty percent of the caverns. The remaining eighty percent is inaccessible to tourists.

A knowledgeable guide led the two RV Gypsies 260-feet below the Earth's surface. The cavern formations the two RV Gypsies saw on the tour include stalactites, stalagmites, columns, "flow-stone", anthodites, and aragonites.

Skyline Caverns also features five flowing streams, three of which were visible on the tour.

formations in Skyline Caverns

All caverns are naturally without light. At one point, the tour guide turned off all lights in the cave, and the two RV Gypsies could not even see their own hand in front of their face. The beautiful colors shown in these photographs are due to artificial lighting in the cave which makes tours possible.

formation in Skyline Caverns
Lee Duquette and the guide

Lee Duquette under a big formation that could be a head-banger!

a deep crevice

Lee Duquette under a possible head-banger formation
a deep crevice

The Wishing Well!

The Wishing Well
formations in Skyline Caverns
lighting in Skyline Caverns
formations in Skyline Caverns
formations in Skyline Caverns

Below: two different areas with pools of water, only a few inches deep, yet it is impossible to know if the water is deep or shallow.

pools of water
pools of water
formations in Skyline Caverns
formations in Skyline Caverns

Below: This formation is called The Shrine. It is a stalagmite that started forming some 45-million years ago. It gave the illusion of different shapes when the tour guide changed the color of lighting that shines on it. But it looks the same in all photographs Karen took because she used flash.

The Shrine in Skyline Caverns

Below: Muddy footprints where people are not supposed to be walking. (Where was the guide when this happened?)

muddy footprints

Below: This is part of a stalactite that broke off and was going to be brought out of the cave for people to see, but it weighed too much, so it remains in the cave.

big piece of stalactite
formation in Skyline Caverns
formation in Skyline Caverns
Lee Duquette in Skyline Caverns
formation in Skyline Caverns
formation in Skyline Caverns
formation in Skyline Caverns

Below: Beautiful reflections in the water at Fairyland Lake!

Beautiful reflections in the water at Fairyland Lake
Beautiful reflections in the water at Fairyland Lake
Beautiful reflections in the water at Fairyland Lake
Beautiful reflections in the water at Fairyland Lake

During the clearing of mud in the cave, Amos and his men discovered another area in the caverns that had been blocked for many years by a large amount of mud. Upon clearing the newly discovered area, the geologist discovered anthodites. Anthodites are an unusual form of crystal, or perfect 6-sided crystalline structures made of pure calcite. These crystals are protected by Virginia State Law, and are kept behind closed doors that a tour guide must open for the public to view them. In most areas, screening was placed under the Anthodites so people on tours could not touch them.

Anthodites
formations

history bookAnthodites are the reason that the two RV Gypsies toured this cave. Anthodites are found in only a few locations on Earth. This gravity-defying mineral grows only one-inch every 7,000 years. They are sometimes referred to as Orchids of the Mineral Kingdom.  Since their discovery in 1937, Skyline Caverns has drawn geologists, specialists and visitors from around the world.

Anthodites
Anthodites
Anthodites
Anthodites

laughing clipart dudeBelow left: formation in the ceiling that looks like sharks' mouth and teeth.
Below right: formation in the ceiling that looks like an uncooked chicken.

sharks' mouth and teeth
an uncooked chicken
Lee Duquette
big hole in Skyline Caverns
Skyline Caverns
look below
Menu for the two RV Gypsies in Virginia
August 6-17, 2014
You may visit these 17 sections in any order you choose.

US Marine Corp emplemNational Museum of the Marine Corps

Snowflex tubing plus a video

the cities of Lynchburg & Madison Heights

A bike ride on the Riverwalk

The Singing Tower in Luray

downtown Hampton

Gloucester Point Beach Park

Shenandoah National Park

Luray Caverns - flashback

Enchanted Dragon Mirror Maze

Skyline Caverns in Front Royal

U.S. Navy emblemHampton Harbor Cruise, Naval Ships & Fort Wool

pizzaAngela's Italian Restaurant

CAMPGROUNDS THE TWO RV GYPSIES STAYED AT IN VIRGINIA this trip.

Chesapeake Bay RV Resort - TT

Lynchburg Thousand Trails Campground

Luray KOA Holiday

check it outlook below

go to the next adventure of the two RV GypsiesAFTER you have viewed all seventeen (17) sections above, please continue on to the adventures of the two RV Gypsies in Maryland.