Mammoth Cave National Park
|Mammoth Cave National Park (Wikimedia)|
Before You Go
There are two worlds to explore in Mammoth Cave National Park—the extraordinary world of the underground and the more familiar surface world of oak-hickory forests, meandering rivers, and woodland wildlife. The park visitor center has extensive information on both. Books, folders, scenic drive and trail guides, cave maps, surface maps, a movie, exhibits, cave tour information, and park activity schedules are available at the center.
Consider your physical limitations realistically when choosing a cave tour. Some tours are not recommended for visitors who fear heights or close places and/or cannot climb steps. Do not let friends or family members talk you into joining a cave tour if you feel uncomfortable about it. Walking sticks and canes are permitted on cave tours only when sufficient need is demonstrated.
Tripods (and monopods) can be hazardous to other visitors and may damage cave formations. Therefore, they are not permitted in the cave. Photography and video recording may be restricted under certain conditions.
Strollers are impractical on bumpy, narrow cave walkways and stairways and are therefore not permitted on cave tours. Carry children in backpacks with caution because of low ceilings; rangers will advise you when they may be used.
To protect air quality, smoking is not permitted in the cave.
Year-round, the cave temperature in interior passageways fluctuates from the mid-50s to the low 60s (in Fahrenheit degrees). However, winter temperatures can be below freezing at entrances! In most areas of the cave, you'll be comfortable if you wear long pants and take a sweater or jacket with you.
Hard-packed dirt trails can be somewhat rough and uneven and may be wet and slippery. You'll encounter numerous stairs and some steep inclines on many cave tours. Therefore, durable, flat-soled footwear suitable for walking is essential.
Reservations and Tickets
To make a tour reservation, call 1-800-967-2283 (CAVE). Please be aware that all cave tours require tickets, which you can purchase from the National Park Service. It's best to reserve tickets in advance, since most everyone who visits the park wants to go on at least one cave tour while they're there, and tours regularly sell out. For all cave tours, reservations can be made no earlier than eight weeks before and no later than one hour before you wish to tour the cave. On the 15th of each month, you may purchase tickets for an additional month of cave tours. For instance, on April 15 you will have the choice of tours on any date through July 15. If you live in the U.S. or Canada, make reservations by calling 800-967-2283. From Europe, dial 1-619-452-8787. Ask the Park Service for the latest ticket prices. Use MasterCard, Visa, or Discover Card to pay for your phone reservations. You can also make reservations in person at the park Visitor Center for no additional charge. Groups of 40 or more are eligible for a discount on certain programs. For more information on ranger-led cave trips, call the park at 502-758-2328 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time.
Hours of Operation
Daily: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastem Time
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific Time
Reservation Center CLOSED Christmas and New Year's Day
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication