Mammoth Cave National Park in central Kentucky is named after the most extensive cave system in the world. More than 360 miles of passages have been mapped, but much more is thought to exist. This region has a very rich history dating back to the prehistoric Mississippian Age.
Around 2 million people visit the park every year. Many visitors take cave tours to discover a serene underground of deep mineral deposits that originated in ancient times. The park is also a noted World Heritage Site.
There are no fees to enter Mammoth Cave National Park unless you take guided tours. The tours disclose information about the discovery of the caves and their fascinating history. The National Park Service provides numerous cave tours in the summer and fall. There are also wild cave tours along undeveloped cave sections. The Ganter Cave Trail leads to the park's longest section of wild cave on the north side of the Green River.
Limestone is the predominant resource inside the caves, which was hollowed out by rushing water millions of years ago. There are multiple passages and rooms in the underground cave labyrinth, with crystalline gypsum and calcite statues overhead. Ecologists have concluded the minerals were formed before continents shifted and Kentucky was located south of the equator.
The cave was officially discovered by European settlers, but Native American remains and mummies have been uncovered below the ground, revealing much earlier roots. Many fables and stories have been passed down by subsequent generations, ranging from haunted stories to heroic tales of grandeur.
While the cave may seem silent and abandoned, there are is a lot of life in and around it. Not surprisingly, many of the native animals are nocturnal. More than 130 species are known to inhabit the cave. Various bats, white spiders, and intriguing eyeless cave fish have naturally adapted to the dark, underground environment.
Many animal species in the area are rare and endangered. The aquatic life found in the cave and in Green River are among the most diverse in the world. Frogs, reptiles, raccoons, and white-tailed deer are also abundant throughout the park.
There are almost 53,000 acres of parkland to explore, including 70 miles of winding trails. Most of the trails are open to hikers and horseback riders. The Sal Hallow Trail goes past springs, sinkholes, and a wild cave. There is also a famous six-hour Wild Cave Tour spanning five miles for more experienced hikers.
Wild tours are available by reservation and usually have age or size limits. These trails may not have defined paths and there are no installed lights along the way. Cavers need to remember to come equipped with flashlights or lanterns, a headlamp, and a hard hat. Knee pads are also a good idea in case of tight crawl spaces in the caves.
Visitors to Mammoth Cave National Park can hike or horseback ride on many scenic trails. People also enjoy fishing, water skiing, and canoeing on the Green River, Nolin Lake, or the Barren River nearby. There are hundreds of bird species to observe in the Mammoth Cave Forest, including Morning Doves, woodpeckers, and Wild Turkeys. An astonishing 1,300 different types of plants and flowers live there too, and the list continues to grow!
Mammoth Cave is one of many long caves in Kentucky. Adjacent to it is Diamond Caverns. Diamond Caverns feature colorful calcite deposits flowing into intricate shapes underground. This cave also has a lighting system and hand rails. There is a nice a gift shop with crafts, fossils, and other souvenirs on site. There are also great attractions in nearby Kentucky towns including museums, golf, amusement parks, waterparks, and theaters.
Summers are warm and are the busiest time of year at the park. Winters are cool followed by rainy and sometimes stormy conditions in the spring. The park is open all year except Christmas Day. The Nolin Lake State Park nearby is a fun recreation option as well. This region of the U.S. has wilderness beauty unmatched anywhere else. There are many enchanting, mystical adventures awaiting you at Mammoth Cave National Park.
With so much to do and see in Mammoth Cave National Park you'll want to be sure that you book a hotel close to it all, check out the Premier Lodging at Mammoth Cave Hotel or the Best Western Kentucky Inn. Not sure which one is right for you? Let a National Park Reservations specialists help you decide!
Mammoth Cave National Park was established to preserve the cave system, including Mammoth Cave, the scenic river valleys of the Green and Nolin rivers, and a section of south central Kentucky. This is the longest recorded cave system in the world with mor ... Read More