Mammoth Cave National Park 'Sleep in a Wigwam' © Wendy Rogers
One of the few original Wigwam Villages left in the U.S.
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USA Parks
USA Parks
Cave Country Region
Cave Country Region
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky   42259

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Sleep in a Wigwam'

One of the few original Wigwam Villages left in the U.S.

Mammoth Cave National Park
© This picture belongs to Michelle Dillon

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Into the Abyss'

Descending into Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Cave Ripples'

A capture of the designs created by dripping water in the cave at Kentucky Down Under.

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Lights in the Darkness'

A tour through the Kentucky Down Under cave near Mammoth Cave National Park.

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Roadside Companion'

One of many deer seen from the main road entering Mammoth Cave National Park.

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Guntown Mountain'

Guntown Mountian in Cave City is home to an Old West town, complete with shoot outs and bank robberies.

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Wigwam Flower'

Wigwam Village in Cave City

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Dripping stalagtite'

Kentucky Down Under cave

Mammoth Cave National Park
'View from above'
© This picture belongs to Michelle Dillon

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Hole in a cave'
© This picture belongs to Michelle Dillon

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Inside a cave'
© This picture belongs to Michelle Dillon

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Cave opening'
© This picture belongs to Michelle Dillon

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Sky Lift to Guntown Mountain'

Mammoth Cave National Park
'Mammoth Cave Looking Out'

The view looking out of Mammoth Caves entrance.

Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world's longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored. Early guide Stephen Bishop called the cave a grand, gloomy and peculiar place, but its vast chambers and complex labyrinths have earned its name - Mammoth.
Nature of the Area
Mammoth Cave National Park was established in 1941 to protect the unparalleled underground labyrinth of caves, the rolling hilly country above, and the Green River valley. Since then, ongoing study and exploration have shown the park to be far more complex than ever imagined, hosting a broad diversity of species living in specialized and interconnected ecosystems. The park's challenge is to balance these remarkable and sometimes fragile living networks with the public's enjoyment of them. The key to that balance is knowledge, and the park's new environmental monitoring programs will provide that understanding.

Mammoth Cave National Park is home to over 70 threatened, endangered or state listed species. These species include birds, crustaceans, fish, gastropods, insects, mammals, mussels, plants and reptiles.

History of the Area
Dr. John Croghans original interest in Mammoth Cave began when be read, in the journals of the day, accounts of the preservative qualities of the cave how the timbers from the old nitre mine, now more than 30 years old, had not even begun to rot how the bodies of dead bats, and even the bodies of Indians which had been found in the cave, remained perfectly intact and undecayed. The agent, the doctor surmised, must be the cave air. His interest intensified after his brother Nicholas visited the cave, and in 1839 he purchased it from Franklin Gorin for $10,000, slaves and all.
Dr. Croghan specialized in pulmonary consumption known today as tuberculosis and had 16 patients in his care in the winter of 1842-1843. As no cure or effective treatment had yet been found for tuberculosis, their grave condition seemed to Croghan to call for desperate measures. He sent his slaves into the cave to construct a series of buildings, along Main Cave near the Star Chamber, two of stone and eight of wood, to function as a sanitarium where his patients could take the airs. Other huts were built at Wandering Willies Spring, Audubon Avenue, and Pensico Avenue. Croghan led his patients into the cave, to their new residence, and there they remained for some weeks.

The minimum acreage was obtained by July 1, 1941, and the lands were then declared a national park. But there was an imperfection in the plan. The Great Onyx Cave and Crystal Cave properties, situated within the minimum boundary, had been valued at a price out of reach of the National Park Service. Secretary Harold Ickes signed a December 1940 order excluding the two properties from the park so that the plan could move forward, and another 20 years would pass before the two caves would join the rest of Mammoth Cave National Park.
The Mammoth Cave Operating Committee would oversee the operation of the Old and New Entrance properties until 1941, when it would be succeeded by the newly formed and authorized National Park Concessions, Inc.

The park itself would have to wait five years, until the close of World War II, for the formal dedication establishing it as the 26th unit of the National Park Service on September 18, 1946.
 Hiking Trailyes
Hotel Cottages - The 10 Historic Hotel Cottages are nestled near the forest, adjacent to the park's Outdoor Amphitheater and historic Engine No. 4. The Mammoth Cave Campground, Caver's Camp Store, and the Mammoth Cave Hotel are all within a short walking distance. Available seasonally.

Woodland Cottages - The 20 Woodland Cottages are situated in a grove of trees a short distance from the park Visitor Center, across the footbridge from the Mammoth Cave Hotel. Open seasonally, these rustic cottages offer basic accommodations in one to four bedrooms.
Mammoth Cave Hotel provides comfortable year-round accommodations and convenient access to the Historic Entrance to the world-famous Mammoth Cave and the park Visitor Center. The hotel and its other facilities are operated by Forever Resorts, Inc., a licensed concessioner to the National Park Service.

For lodging reservations call 877-386-4383

Mammoth Cave Hotel - Heritage Trail Rooms - Relax in one of the Hotel's 42 Heritage Trail Rooms, where you can enjoy the scenic views of the park's Heritage Trail from your balcony window. These comfortable guest rooms are adjacent to the valley leading to the Historic Entrance to Mammoth Cave, across the footbridge from the Visitor Center, and in the same complex as the dining facilities and gift shops.

Sunset Terrace Rooms - The 20 Sunset Terrace Rooms are located in a picturesque setting at the forest's edge, and next to a trailhead for the Heritage Trail that leads to the Sunset Point Overlook.
There are few better ways to discover the pleasures and curiosities of the sunlit side of Mammoth Cave National Park than to camp among the trees or by the waters. The park offers camping in three developed campgrounds and in more than a dozen primitive sites in the backcountry and along the Green and Nolin Rivers. Use the links to find out about the different campgrounds. The table below will help you choose the one that's best for you.
Swimming in park waters is not recommended. At normal stage, the Green River flows at a relatively brisk 4.3 knots, or about 5 miles per hour - too strong to swim against. The flow of the Nolin River is only slightly slower. In addition, the usually opaque water may conceal deep holes or submerged snags or other hazards. Green River can be deceptively deep in places, well in excess of 10'. There is no designated swimming area in the park, and no lifeguards are on duty.

If you do swim, observe weather conditions. Flooding is possible. In case of storms, leave the water and seek shelter.

Swimming, wading, or bathing is prohibited within 200 feet of the Green River Ferry landings and the Houchin Ferry landings. These areas are used for the operations of the ferries, as well as the launching and extracting of small watercraft. The safety of swimmers and bathers would be at risk in these areas. In addition, swimmers and bathers in these areas would interfere with efficient ferry operations.
Within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park, 25 miles of the Green River and six miles of the Nolin River carry boaters past dramatic bluffs, majestic trees, and wildlife. The Green River, dotted with sandbars, islands, and subsurface springs, averages 200 feet wide and 10 feet deep, though its depth may be much greater in places. The Nolin River also averages about 10 feet deep, but its channel is narrower than the Green River.

At normal water levels, the Green River runs at about five miles per hour. The current in the Nolin is slightly slower than the current in the Green. Therefore, both rivers offer pleasant canoeing, even for novices. When the rivers flood, the current can be very swift, but no whitewater conditions exist along the Green or Nolin Rivers in the park. Regardless of water level, always be alert to hazards such as submerged trees and rocks, drifting debris, and the park's ferries.

Launching watercraft is strongly discouraged when river levels are at or exceed 10 feet on the park's water level gauges. Strong, swiftly moving currents as well as large drift flowing in the river channel pose a hazard to safety. Canoe liveries with permits to operate in the park are prohibited from renting or providing canoes during these times. To inquire on current river levels you may call 270.758.2417.

To explore the Green River, launch your craft at Dennison Ferry Day-Use Area, Green River Ferry, or Houchins Ferry. On the Nolin River, launch your boat just below Nolin River Dam at Tailwaters Recreation Area, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When you reach the Green River, paddle upstream against a gentle current and take out at Houchin Ferry. Be sure to pick up a copy of the Backcountry Map Guide at the Visitor Center before embarking on your trip.
For a longer trip, you can put in upstream outside the park at Munfordville and float 19 miles to take out at Dennison Ferry Day-Use Area. Note, however, that much of that length lies outside the park and camping may not be permitted on the private properties along the river before you reach the Park. Also, you will need a Kentucky fishing license to fish until you reach the Park boundary.
Fishing in the Green and Nolin Rivers is good throughout the year, with spring and summer being the most productvie. Bass, crappie, bluegill, muskellunge and catfish, along with almost 100 other species, frequent the river. State creel and size limits apply see below but you do not need a state fishing license as long as you fish within park boundaries.

In the park, you can fish with pole and line, rod and reel, or trot/throwlines other methods, including limb lines and jug lines, are prohibited. If you use trot lines, you must attach a tag with your name and address, place hooks 30 or more inches apart, tend your lines daily, and remove lines when you are not using them.

At Sloans Crossing Pond and First Creek Lake, using any live bait other than worms is prohibited. On the rivers, you may use minnows or worms. Using bait seines in the park is strictly regulated, so please check with rangers for specific rules and regulations. Because park wildlife is protected, collecting frogs, turtles, or other aquatic fauna, or digging for bait, is strictly prohibited.

The number and size of fish you may take while fishing in the park is restricted obtain an online copy of the Kentucky Department of Fish Wildlife Fishing and Boating Guide or request a copy from the park Visitor Center Information Desk and familiarize yourself with Kentucky creel and size limits before you fish.

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Picnic sites are available at several locations in the park. The Mammoth Cave Picnic Area is located north of the main Visitor Center parking area. Two shelters in this main picnic area, one open-air and one enclosed, are available for reservation. Picnic tables are also available at Maple Springs Day-Use Area, Houchin Ferry Picnic Shelter, Dennison Ferry Day-Use Area and Sloan's Crossing Pond.
Mammoth Cave National Park offers several opportunities for bicyclists to get out into the outdoors. Street bicycles are permitted on all paved Park roads that are open to the public, and mountain bikes are permitted on the unpaved administrative roads. In addition, certain trails have been specifically designed or designated for off-road bicycle use, and more are under development.

The following special rules apply to bicycle users on Park trails

Bicycles are prohibited on routes and trails not designated as open to bicycle use.
Unless posted otherwise, bicycles may not be operated in excess of 15 miles per hour on designated routes.
Bicyclists must yield the right of way to horses and hikers on all shared trails.
Designated Off-Road Bicycle Trails in the Park

Big Hollow Trail - 9.1 miles
The Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail - 9 miles
Maple Springs Trail - 1 mile
White Oak Trail - 2.5 miles
With nearly 84 miles of trail in the backcountry, frontcountry and Visitor Center areas combined, from easy to rugged, you're certain to find just the one-on-one with nature you're looking for.

Six trailheads, at Maple Springs, Lincoln, Big Hollow, First Creek, Temple Hill and White Oak give access to the backcountry's 65.8 miles of trail. Most backcountry trails are for pedestrian and horseback use only, with the exception of Big Hollow Trail, which is for pedestrian and mountain bike use only, and Maple Springs Trail and White Oak Trail, which are all-use trails.

In the frontcountry, explore a total of 10.8 miles along the Cedar Sink Trail, Sand Cave Trail, Sloan's Crossing Pond Walk, Turnhole Bend Nature Trail, and the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail.

The area around the park Visitor Center offers 7.2 miles of scenic trails that venture from ridgetop to river, from sinkholes to springs, from old guide's cemeteries to overlooks, and from historic engines to the Historic Entrance.


Nature Programs
Ranger-Led Activities at Mammoth Cave National Park are offered by season.

Notice Unless otherwise noted, the following items are not permitted on cave tours
Metal framed backpacks and backpacks that are higher than the shoulder or that are of a length that extends below the hips i.e. large trekking backpacks
All child backpack carriers

Flash photography is not permitted on cave tours.
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
August 12 Beauty Underground by Wendy Rogers
My family loves the Mammoth Cave/Cave City area. Granted, Cave City is a bustling, high class town, but we always have fun there. I recommend staying at Jellystone Campground in a Savannah cabin. We had a great time there. Be sure to visit Kentucky Down Under, and take the short cave tour there. It is beautiful. Mammoth Cave National Park is fantastic. The tours are beautiful. Take a ride on the Miss Green River if you can.

Area Campgrounds
Cave Country RV Campground
216 Gaunce Drive
Cave City, KY
Jellystone Park Camp-Resort Mammoth Cave
1002 Mammoth Cave Road
Cave City, KY
Area Resources
Crawford County Tourism Bureau - Leavenworth, INTourism
Crawford County consists of over 306 square miles of beauty and outdoor recreation Caves, state parks, rugged terrain, acres of protected forests, nature preserves, and numerous waterways
71.1 miles from park*
Weather Forecast, (42259)

Plane - Regular flights into Louisville or Nashville, each approx. 1.5 hours from the park.

Car - If you travel south from Lousiville, KY, the most direct route is I-65 south to Exit 53 at Cave City. Another 15 minutes of driving will bring you to the park visitor center.

If you travel north from Nashville, TN, the most direct route is I-65 north to Exit 48 at Park City, KY. Another 10 minutes of driving will bring you to the park visitor center. Nashville and the park are both in the Central Time Zone. Louisville is in the Eastern Time Zone, one hour ahead of the park.

Public Transportation - Bus service stops in Cave City, KY.

USA Parks
USA Parks
Cave Country Region
Cave Country Region
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park