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THINGS TO DO IN KENTUCKY

Mammoth Cave National Park


Hours: 24 hours          Open: Daily          Cost: Free          Group Size: Any
Hours: 24 hours
 Open: Daily
Cost: Free
Group Size: Any

About Mammoth Cave National Park

Thousands of years ago Native Americans discovered Mammoth Cave and its rich mineral deposits. Legend has it that the first European to discover the cave did so in 1790 when he settled in the area, unaware of Mammoth Cave until he discovered it. In the early 1800s, Kentuckians began to use the nitrate rich cave dirt to manufacture saltpeter, a main component of gunpowder.

Over the following decades, production ramped up to the point where much of the gunpowder used in the War of 1812 came from Mammoth Cave. The Cave and the rights to its minerals changed hands often in these early years. Many of the owners explore further into the cave system and discover new caverns and passageways.

It wasn't until the early 1900s that cave tours began. They continued to grow in popularity as new entrances to the cave system were discovered or created. On July 1, 1941, Mammoth Cave National Park was established with 45,310 acres of land. The Mammoth Cave system is the longest known system in the world.

About Mammoth Cave National Park

Thousands of years ago Native Americans discovered Mammoth Cave and its rich mineral deposits. Legend has it that the first European to discover the cave did so in 1790 when he settled in the area, unaware of Mammoth Cave until he discovered it. In the early 1800s, Kentuckians began to use the nitrate rich cave dirt to manufacture saltpeter, a main component of gunpowder.

Over the following decades, production ramped up to the point where much of the gunpowder used in the War of 1812 came from Mammoth Cave. The Cave and the rights to its minerals changed hands often in these early years. Many of the owners explore further into the cave system and discover new caverns and passageways.

It wasn't until the early 1900s that cave tours began. They continued to grow in popularity as new entrances to the cave system were discovered or created. On July 1, 1941, Mammoth Cave National Park was established with 45,310 acres of land. The Mammoth Cave system is the longest known system in the world.

Mammoth Cave National Park Tours

Both guided and self-guided tours of Mammoth Cave are available year round. Due to the popularity of Mammoth Cave, make sure you have a cave tour reservation for everyone in your party. Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov.

Cave tours last about 2 hours and start at various times throughout the day. The temperature inside the caves is different from the temperature outside, so dress accordingly. And, of course, come equipped with proper footwear.

Tickets cost about $8-11 for adults and $6-8 for youth and seniors. There is a steep hill leading to the cave as well as roughly 200 stair steps throughout the tour. Please use good judgement when deciding whether or not your body is healthy enough to perform these exercises.

Please be careful when navigating to Mammoth Cave National Park. Many GPS devices and navigation apps will lead you on narrow roads requiring river crossings via ferry or roads not suitable for large passenger vehicles. It's best to decide on your route before you start driving.

Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing

There are over 30 miles of waterways within the Mammoth Cave National Park. The main waterways are the Nolin and Green rivers. They offer ample opportunities for recreational boating, canoeing and kayaking. The Green River is classified as a flat-water river, meaning they lack any sort of fast, whitewater, but the current can be swift in places. The Nolin River is considerably faster with water level fluctuation greater than 20 feet at times.

Many visitors bring their own boats, but a great many also rely on local outfitters to provide the canoes and kayaks. Please be aware of weather and water conditions before heading out on the rivers. Follow best safety practices such as wearing a personal flotation device at all times, letting someone else know your float plan (where you're putting in and where you're taking out). This can save time in the event that something goes wrong.

Hiking

Mammoth Cave National Park is home to dozens of miles of forested trails that are easily accessible for everyone. Visitors will enjoy the vivid green of the forest and the earthy smell of vegetation. Most trails are rated as easy and are short distances between attractions or to lookout points. Some of the more popular trails are Sinkhole Trail and Sunset Point Trail, which are less than a mile in length, but incredibly beautiful.

While there's plenty of easy and accessible hiking trails in the park, there's even more (over 60 miles) of rugged terrain just waiting to be explored. Venture off the beaten path to explore Mammoth Cave National Park from a whole new perspective. Want to extend your hike? There are 13 backcountry campsites for those looking for a weekend wilderness adventure. Just remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles while outdoors. Let's help preserve nature and its beauty for everyone.

Mammoth Cave National Park Tours



Both guided and self-guided tours of Mammoth Cave are available year round. Due to the popularity of Mammoth Cave, make sure you have a cave tour reservation for everyone in your party. Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov.

Cave tours last about 2 hours and start at various times throughout the day. The temperature inside the caves is different from the temperature outside, so dress accordingly. And, of course, come equipped with proper footwear.

Tickets cost about $8-11 for adults and $6-8 for youth and seniors. There is a steep hill leading to the cave as well as roughly 200 stair steps throughout the tour. Please use good judgement when deciding whether or not your body is healthy enough to perform these exercises.

Please be careful when navigating to Mammoth Cave National Park. Many GPS devices and navigation apps will lead you on narrow roads requiring river crossings via ferry or roads not suitable for large passenger vehicles. It's best to decide on your route before you start driving.

Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing



There are over 30 miles of waterways within the Mammoth Cave National Park. The main waterways are the Nolin and Green rivers. They offer ample opportunities for recreational boating, canoeing and kayaking.

The Green River is classified as a flat-water river, meaning they lack any sort of fast, whitewater, but the current can be swift in places. The Nolin River is considerably faster with water level fluctuation greater than 20 feet at times.

Many visitors bring their own boats, but a great many also rely on local outfitters to provide the canoes and kayaks. Please be aware of weather and water conditions before heading out on the rivers.

Follow best safety practices such as wearing a personal flotation device at all times, letting someone else know your float plan (where you're putting in and where you're taking out). This can save time in the event that something goes wrong.

Hiking at

Mammoth Cave National Park 


Mammoth Cave National Park is home to dozens of miles of forested trails that are easily accessible for everyone. Visitors will enjoy the vivid green of the forest and the earthy smell of vegetation.

Most trails are rated as easy and are short distances between attractions or to lookout points. Some of the more popular trails are Sinkhole Trail and Sunset Point Trail, which are less than a mile in length, but incredibly beautiful.

While there's plenty of easy and accessible hiking trails in the park, there's even more (over 60 miles) of rugged terrain just waiting to be explored. Venture off the beaten path to explore Mammoth Cave National Park from a whole new perspective.

Want to extend your hike? There are 13 backcountry campsites for those looking for a weekend wilderness adventure. Just remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles while outdoors. Let's help preserve nature and its beauty for everyone.

Guest Reviews

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Great tour...will be back

a balmy 31 degrees and as we descended into the cave we could actually take off hats and gloves as the cave was about 20 degrees warmer than the outside. Once this Covid mess is done, I want to take the 7-mile tour to really see some of the wonders of this cave. Interesting tidbit...they have mapped/explored over 400 miles of caverns and trails underground and still have not found the end/beginning of the cave system. They estimate there is another 600 miles of cave yet to be "discovered". The Park Service staff and Rangers were EXCELLENT!!!

-Joe L.

Guest Reviews

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Great tour...will be back

a balmy 31 degrees and as we descended into the cave we could actually take off hats and gloves as the cave was about 20 degrees warmer than the outside. Once this Covid mess is done, I want to take the 7-mile tour to really see some of the wonders of this cave. Interesting tidbit...they have mapped/explored over 400 miles of caverns and trails underground and still have not found the end/beginning of the cave system. They estimate there is another 600 miles of cave yet to be "discovered". The Park Service staff and Rangers were EXCELLENT!!!

-Joe L.

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Beautiful and unforgettable

I was completely awestruck as we walked through the cave. I couldn't believe it was so enormous! I loved walking through it. The tour guide was amazing and very educated. We also liked strolling through the park outside of the cave on all of the trails that are offered there.

-Jacob Crumb

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Go! Don't hesitate!!

This place is great! The park rangers we so funny, knowledgeable and kind- of your follow the rules you will have a wonderful time! There is a lot of walking in the cave and most of it was pretty easy but if you are sensitive to walking wear good shoes and you will be fine. Right now it's a self guided tour which means you just walk and look, however they have rangers all over the place answering all of your questions (and they loved talking to us). Outside of the cave is beautiful hiking and some paved bike trails. Enjoy your time there!

-Carrie Shaw

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Beautiful and unforgettable

I was completely awestruck as we walked through the cave. I couldn't believe it was so enormous! I loved walking through it. The tour guide was amazing and very educated. We also liked strolling through the park outside of the cave on all of the trails that are offered there.

-Jacob Crumb

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Go! Don't hesitate!!

This place is great! The park rangers we so funny, knowledgeable and kind- of your follow the rules you will have a wonderful time! There is a lot of walking in the cave and most of it was pretty easy but if you are sensitive to walking wear good shoes and you will be fine. Right now it's a self guided tour which means you just walk and look, however they have rangers all over the place answering all of your questions (and they loved talking to us). Outside of the cave is beautiful hiking and some paved bike trails. Enjoy your time there!

-Carrie Shaw

Map and Directions

About 1.5 hours from both Nashville and Louisville, Mammoth Cave National Park is only a short drive from major international airports and is even closer to large cities such as Bowling Green and Elizabethtown.

From the Nashville area: Head North on Interstate 65 until you reach Park city. Continue West on Mammoth Cave Parkway until you reach the park.

From the Louisville area: Head South on Interstate 65 until you reach Cave City. Continue West on Mammoth Cave Parkway until you reach the park.

Map and Directions

About 1.5 hours from both Nashville and Louisville, Mammoth Cave National Park is only a short drive from major international airports and is even closer to large cities such as Bowling Green and Elizabethtown.

From the Nashville area: Head North on Interstate 65 until you reach Park city. Continue West on Mammoth Cave Parkway until you reach the park.

From the Louisville area: Head South on Interstate 65 until you reach Cave City. Continue West on Mammoth Cave Parkway until you reach the park.

There are great bed and breakfasts nearby to make your visit to Mammoth Cave National Park even better!

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There are great bed and breakfasts nearby to make your visit to Mammoth Cave National Park even better!

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