“World's longest known cave system”
Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world's longest known cave system, with more than 390 miles explored. Early guide Stephen Bishop called the cave a "grand, gloomy and peculiar place," but its vast chambers and complex labyrinths have earned its name—Mammoth. The human experience of Mammoth Cave reflects one of humanity's most potent emotions: wonder. The dark depths of a pit or passage trigger inborn questions – where does that go? How far? Is anything in there? The first human to enter Mammoth Cave passed under its imposing arch about 4,000 years ago. His reason for probing the shadows? The same as ours today. Curiosity led the way to discoveries of minerals, and primitive miners plumbed the rocky halls for nearly 2,000 years before the cave again fell quiet. It would not again echo the sound of human feet clattering the floor stones until the very end of the 18th century. Once European settlers discovered Mammoth Cave, stories both inspiring and strange began to accumulate about their adventures underground. The cave's stories spoke of curiosity, cures, captivity and capitalism; excitement, exploration and exploitation. In the 1800s, Dr. Frank Gorin (or, some reports say, Dr. John Croghan) established a colony for tuberculosis patients in the cave, believing the cave air would heal them. Many of the patients died. In the 1920s many of the caves were privately owned and in a battle to attract tourist dollars. Floyd Collins, who owned a section called Crystal Cave, was excavating when a boulder fell on his leg, pinning him. He was found the next day, but no one could move the heavy boulder, and people came from all over to follow the drama. After two weeks, Collins died, and his body was placed on display in the cave. The body was then stolen and found a few days later in a field, minus one leg, and he was put back in his cave coffin until the National Park System bought the cave and closed it to tourists. The cave, now determined to be part of the Mammoth Cave system, is rumored to be haunted. Floyd’s ghost is said to be heard calling for help, and objects have been thrown from an unknown source. Apparitions of African-American slaves also have been seen in the caves.
First tip, go to the website prior to hitting the road and book tickets that you can then pick up at will call. Tours fill up fast! When planning how many you tours you can fit into the day, plan on at least an hour in between with one having a slightly longer break for dining. Slow service in the dining hall. Bring a sweatshirt, it's 54 degrees in the cave and if you are caving all day, consider not wearing as much cotton that hold moisture and will make you slightly uncomfortable. No backpacks/bags are allowed in the cave - cargo pants help so you can put your keys and cell in the pockets. If you like taking pictures, walk at the end of the tour - you can be slow and then catch up. Lastly, if you have time for two tours, consider doing the historic tour that has a great overview of the cave's history and then one of their lantern-only tours at night which offers an entirely different cave experience. Happy caving!
Probably the most unique and different of any national park but lacks a bit on the greenery and nature you'd expect from most national parks. After all it is mostly underground. All the caving tours are great and range in length and difficulty but even the easiest package is pretty awesome.
Was there and thought it was amazing!! Also being in Kentucky in the middle of August sweating my buns off from the heat (we western Canadians are not used to those temperatures) thought the cave was the best air conditioner ever! lol. Thoroughly enjoyed the visit and would go there again!
AwesomE with a big E! This place rocked! The customer service was great and we just went through the free part. We did not go on the tours. There are plenty of trails to walk and a huge exploration area, sponsored by Disney, to help you understand the caves. If you do not explore the caves, this is worth the stop! I saw a lot of families with little children camping, so we might try it next time!
Wow, I need to come back here there is so much to do and see! Stayed in Cave city close by, good Mexican food there and a short drive here in the AM! Domes and Dripstones tour was easy with some fun tight squeezes and super fascinating for someone who has never been In a freaking huge cave before! The guides were amazingly knowledgeable and super nice! I LOVE KENTUCKY!
Mammoth Cave was great. Tours fill up early, so get there early if you aren't too flexible with time. Bring a sweater. camera OK too, but no flash photography/no tripods so pictures aren't wonderful. no bags allowed. My tour guide was fantastic.
Beautiful park. We enjoyed our cave tour, but I think I loved our hikes even more. Make sure you check out a few trails. I wish we had had more time to explore.
Excellent tours reasonably priced. On recommendation, we took the historic tour, a two hour jaunt. Despite warnings of claustrophobia and fear of heights, there were no seriously tight spaces or high heights without adequate safeguards. Historic tour very doable for anyone able to walk or climb steps for a couple of hours.
Only disappointment is that we were not able to spend more time doing some more tours after realizing that we barely scratched the surface.
Bring a jacket, Cave's can get chilly. Easy access off the interstate, and plenty of trails and things to do around the topside.
Stopped here with no intention of doing one of the big tours-- too short on time and I didn't bring the right gear. But even if you aren't able to take one of the tours, I think it's still worth stopping. The visitor center is brand new and super nice. The museum is bigger than some of the others I've seen, and does a great job of giving you a childlike sense of wonder about the cave. It's massive and it's an ongoing science experiment and we have the privilege of experiencing it because America is supposed to make sure that natural wonders are accessible to everyone. Also, just behind the visitor center is a trail that's under .2 miles that leads to the "historic entrance". It made for a great "couldn't go on a real tour" consolation prize. You can go inside a few hundred feet of cavern and get your photo ops without committing to the tour thing.
Definitely will be back to do the other tours! We enjoyed the Extended Historic tour and the hike afterwards.
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Mammoth Cave National Park
- Sun - Sat: 8:30 am - 6:30 pm
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Good for hiking, paddling, and 3 more activities.
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- Year Round
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- Year Round