Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park (courtesy, NPS)

From the beginning, underground explorers doubted that they would ever find the end of Mammoth Cave. Today, the cave still seems to be a wilderness without boundaries. The Mammoth cave system goes on and on for more than 300 miles of known passages, and there is yet more cave to be explored. It is the longest cave in the world. No other cave even comes close.

In this vast subterranean world, there are giant vertical shafts, from the towering 192-foot-high Mammoth Dome to the 105-foot-deep Bottomless Pit. Some passages and rooms are decorated with sparkling white gypsum crystals, while others are filled with the colorful sculpted shapes of stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations. Underground rivers with names like Echo River and the River Styx flow through Mammoth's deepest chambers. And in the cave's absolute blackness dwell many rare and unusual animals, including eyeless fish, ghostly white spiders, and blind beetles.

On the Surface

On the North Side over a dozen campsites dot the 70-plus miles of trail. Hike here and you may not see another living soul. Seek solitude in the rugged hills and deep valleys, camp by river, lake, or waterfall, explore bluffs and ridgetops. Ride horses along these backcountry trails. Drive the scenic routes of Houchins Ferry Road and Little Jordan Road. If you have a large group of friends, camp out at the Maple Springs Group Campground.

The South Side offers a quick drive and an easy walk that will show you some of the park's most beautiful scenery. Take a picnic or stroll the circle of Sloan's Crossing Pond Nature Trail and listen for bullfrogs, green frogs, and red-winged blackbirds among the cattails. Descend into Cedar Sink to look through a "window" into the way water travels beneath the ground, then go to Turnhole Bend Nature Trail and find out where and how that same water joins the Green River. In season, drive Joppa Ridge Road and peer into the deep valleys.

In the Visitor Center Area walk on top of what lies below—six miles of beautiful woodland trail lead you into huge sinkholes and down to flowing springs, both windows to the underworld. Take a ranger-led walk and get some first-hand knowledge about the animals and plants of the region. Sit in on an Evening Program at the Campfire Circle or the Amphitheatre. Bicycle along the bike trail or stroll along the Heritage Trail. Drive the winding and beautiful Flint Ridge Road and stop by historic Mammoth Cave Church. Walk down the Sand Cave Trail.

Over 30 miles of the Green and Nolin Rivers trace through the park and offer a wealth of recreational opportunities. Angle for muskellunge, bluegill, catfish, bass, perch, crappie, and other game fish. You can canoe the rivers and camp along their shores. Two of the few operating rural ferries in the nation cross the Green River here: the Green River Ferry and the Houchins Ferry. For a longer boat ride, cruise on the Miss Green River II looking for wildlife, springs, and river bluffs.


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