To explore Mammoth Cave, you'll want to go on one of the multitude of ranger-guided tours the park offers. The Discovery Tour is a self-guided introductory tour to Mammoth Cave and is impressive in its own right, but it doesn't give you the same chance to comb the caves in-depth that you'll get when you go with a ranger (the Discovery Tour is only available during peak visitation periods in the warmer months).
There are two main categories of ranger-guided tours. Underground tours are a great way to learn about the cave's geology and history. Descend into the cave's deepest reaches to find out how the forces of erosion have conspired over hundreds of millions of years to create Mammoth's massive network of tunnels, chambers, and wondrous rock formations. On the Gothic Lantern Tour, see the cave as nineteenth century cavers saw it and discover the marks of passage they left along the way. These tours range from easy to moderately strenuous.
For those who don't mind a few tight squeezes, the park also offers three spelunking adventures. These trips give visitors the chance to experience the true darkness that engulfs a cave when you turn out the lights, yet in which a variety of wildlife manages to survive. Participants on spelunking adventures see parts of Mammoth Cave otherwise inaccessible to the general public.
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- Guided spelunking adventures will give you a chance to escape the crowds and really experience the best of Mammoth, the world's largest known cave system. If you're over 16 and like a challenge, try the all-day Wild Cave Tour. Younger newcomers to the sport should try the Trog, a 2.5-hour, one-mile hike, crawl, and belly slide.
- Check with the Park Service well ahead of time for cave-tour schedules and reservations. Things get booked up fast, so be prepared if you have your heart set on going underground.
Mammoth Cave National Park
P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky 42259
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