Mammoth Cave National park in Kentucky is the closest NP to our home, only about a 5 1/2 hour drive, so we decided to check it out over a long weekend. We arrived Friday afternoon at Singing Hills RV park, a quaint little campground right outside the NP. We set up the camper, had a quick lunch, then headed into the park. We checked out the visitor’s center, which has some great educational displays about how the cave was formed. We then decided to do a little hiking. We hiked the Green River Bluffs trail and the River Styx Spring trail. Both trails had some beautiful features, like views of the Green River and the exit of the River Styx spring from Mammoth Cave. Dogwoods and wildflowers were in bloom as well. The end of the trail passes by the historic entrance of the cave, which you can walk down into to cool off in the 55* air. After our hike, we stopped in at Spelunker’s Ice Cream shop for a well-deserved treat.
We headed back into the park Saturday morning for our first of two cave tours of the day. The Domes and Dripstones tour would take us on a quick 10-minute bus ride to the “New Entrance”. We headed into a steel door that led to a metal staircase that steeply plummeted into the earth. This tour lasted about two hours and required about a 2-mile walk and hundreds of stairs. Mammoth cave is a comprised of about 450 miles of long, horizontal tunnels that were carved away by ancient rivers, so there are many different sections and entrances. This tour featured tight passages, steep stairways, and the “Frozen Niagara” feature near the end. It was more adventurous than the tour we took at Carlsbad Caverns, but did not have nearly the amount of features. A wonderful cave in it’s own right, though.
After a break for lunch, we arrived for the Cleveland Avenue tour in the afternoon. This tour began at the Carmichael entrance, also reached by way of a short bus ride from the visitor’s center. This section of the cave is aptly named, as it mimics a long, wide city street. It’s basically a huge tunnel that stretches for about a mile. Our guide, Ranger Rachel, filled us in on a lot of history about this section of the cave. It was one of the earliest tours of the cave. The tour was very informative. It ended at a decommissioned food service area with restrooms. Luckily, there was a working elevator that took us back to the surface where our bus was waiting.
Mammoth Cave NP is a modest park with much to offer. It was not as crowded as the likes of Grand Canyon or Zion, so it made for a fun, relaxing weekend, and we got to check another National Park off our list.
Check out this quick video of the tours!
Taylor put together a great video as well!