Where is it?
Mammoth Cave National Park is located at 1 Visitor Center Parkway, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.
Highlights of the park include:
- Visitor center, museum, and gift shops
- Cave tours – most require advance reservations and fees
- Hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails
- Paddling and fishing
- Ranger-led programs, including night sky programs
- Picnic areas
- Three campgrounds for tents and RVs in addition to backcountry campsites
- Mammoth Cave Lodge which includes dining options
- Lodging options also include historic cottages and woodland cottages
- Grab and go food options near the visitor center
- Day boarding kennels for dogs and cats
Mammoth Cave is a on the National Register of Historic Places, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and an International Dark Sky Park. Here is the park’s website link: Mammoth Cave
Wi-fi and cell service can be hit and miss at Mammoth Cave, though we had some luck at the visitor center. We also do not recommend using Google Maps for directions to this park. Google took us on a much longer route than necessary. Though the best thing about the Google route is that we got to take the Green River Ferry across the river. That was definitely a first for us!
“Within National Parks is room — glorious room — room in which to find ourselves, in which to think and hope, to dream and plan, to rest and resolve.” — Enos Mills
Historic facts about Mammoth Cave
- The cave has been known since prehistoric times. Artifacts such as bowls and woven sandals have been found inside.
- An ancient burial site containing the preserved remains of a Native American woman was found in the early 1800s. At one time, the remains were on display for visitors to the cave but are now in the possession of the Smithsonian Institute.
- In 1935 the remains of another ancient Native American, a man who had been crushed by a large rock, were found by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the cave. His remains were also displayed until public distaste for viewing them caused the park to remove them from view. The man was then buried in a secret location inside the cave.
- During the War of 1812, saltpeter, an ingredient used in making gun powder, was mined by enslaved African American workers at Mammoth Cave. Remains of the mine can still be seen today at the Historic Entrance.
- Tourists began arriving at Mammoth Cave as early as 1816, and the former miners who were familiar with the cave served as tour guides.
- In 1842, Dr. John Croghan established an experimental tuberculosis treatment facility inside Mammoth Cave which he had previously purchased for $10,000.00. After several patients died, Croghan ended his experiment. Dr. Croghan died of tuberculosis in 1849. Two of the huts he built for his patients to live in can still be seen today.
- Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world. About 400 miles of the cave have been explored, with 600 additional miles left unexplored!
- After years of work went into acquiring the land and creating the park’s infrastructure, Mammoth Cave National Park was dedicated on July 1, 1941.
Green River Bluffs Trail
Our visit to the park started with a hike on the Green River Bluffs Trail, which came recommended by a ranger in the visitor center. We had only a couple of hours to spare before our Frozen Niagara cave tour began, so this turned out to be the perfect hike for us. We were even back at the visitor center in time to enjoy a parking lot picnic lunch.
We found this trail to be easy with only a few steep inclines. After the Green River overlook, we took the Dixon Cave Trail as part of the loop back to the visitor center.
According to park information, Dixon Cave was part of Mammoth Cave about a million years ago. The collapse of a sinkhole caused Dixon to be cut off from Mammoth, however, the event created Mammoth’s Historic Entrance. This cave is not accessible to humans due to the endangered Indiana bats that hibernate there in the winter months. Interestingly, Dixon Cave maintains a steady temperature of 44 degrees F (7 degrees C), which makes conditions perfect for the bats to hibernate.
Trivia: There are 14 species of cave dwelling animals in Mammoth Cave that are found nowhere else in the world.
Frozen Niagara Tour
Advance reservations for cave tours are highly recommended and can made through Recreation.gov. Click here to see detailed tour listings as well as pricing for each of the tours. We made our cave tour reservations about a month before our trip and got the last two places in our preferred time slot. To begin many of the cave tours, ticketed visitors meet in a pavilion near the visitor center. Park buses then carry the groups to the cave entrance to begin their tour.
Our ranger-guides told us on the bus ride that we were going to see the most beautiful cave entrance in all of Mammoth Cave National Park. While we envisioned something similar to the Historic Entrance, that is not what it was at all!
The photos above and below are views from the Frozen Niagara tour. Flash photography is not permitted in the cave, and the guides keep the tour groups moving which makes it difficult to get good shots. Our photos do not do justice to the way it really looks; the cave is much more beautiful and interesting in person.
Unfortunately, our shots of the Frozen Niagara formation did not turn out, so we have borrowed one from the National Park Service and Deb Spillman. Her shot shows the beauty of the incredible formation.
Thank you so much for joining us on our visit to Mammoth Cave National Park! We hope you will join us again for another great national park or road trip destination.
If you would like to visit more national parks, click on these:
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Devils Tower Road Trip: Things to Do
Death Valley National Park
Travel safe, and we will see you on the road.
Mike and Kellye
As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.
56 thoughts on “Mammoth Cave National Park”
This cave was such an historic site . It caught my attention. Thanks Anita
Our family visited Mammoth Cave when I was a child. It was amazing and beautiful…and I have enjoyed the
memories of what we experienced throughout the years!
Thanks so much for your interest in the post. Maybe you can go back someday!
This was fascinating to read and some really beautiful photos. It looks so relaxing too, the woods and the river
Thank you, Brenda. It was a very relaxing place as most of our national parks are.
This is such an incredible place! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for reading!
Such an amazing place. Love the cave and the walk to it . That green river is spectacularly green🤣
I wish you could see it in person, Sandy. It’s prettier in person.
That is always how it is. I wish too!!!
I am sure it is.
Oh I always love Mammoth Cave! The Frozen Niagara is so incredible to see-almost otherworldly. I love the look of the trail! I’m going to have to walk it next time we visit 🙂
Hundreds of miles of cave system is astounding! I’ve yet to visit despite growing up not too far away in central Indiana. Your photos inside and outside the cave are wonderful. I’d love to get there and see the Frozen Niagara in person.
Wow, how beautiful! The photos remind me of Kartchner Caverns in southern AZ. Incredible! Another item added to my bucket list. 😊
I’m about to Google Kartchner Caverns. It will probably be another item added to our bucket list! Thanks for reading our post and for your comment.
We also have a Mammoth Cave in WA
You and Mike always seem to find such interesting places to visit
Thank you, Ali. Maybe someday we can visit the other Mammoth Cave! Wouldn’t that be something?
Definitely Kellye, something for your list 😊
Wow! It’s hard to believe such beautiful natural wonders could be hidden behind what appears to be an old maintenance shed door. Great photos and info. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for reading and commenting on our post. Mammoth Cave National Park is amazing!
Saw a woman at Walmart the other day who was so large, the only way to describe her butt was “Mammoth Cave”. See, I told you in my bio I was observant!
Yes, you’re very observant!
So cool! I’ve heard of this site but never been. I thought the facts you included about the park were very interesting too!
Thank you, Lyssy!
A fascinating area Kellye, I had to look up the term ‘dark sky park’. Imagine converting that old barn into a little writing studio. That is probably the greenest looking river I have ever seen! It’s probably a good thing for everyone that Dixon Cave is closed, not sure I’d fancy bumping into an Indiana bat. I had a little giggle at “public distaste”, I’m guessing it was pretty gross.
Thanks, Leighton. I suppose I could’ve said that the people who visited the cave were totally grossed out by seeing a dead body lying in the doorway – LOL! (Maybe that would work if I were a crime writer.)
Yeah that was quite the “welcome” I imagine ha ha. I think you phrased it just right, Kellye.
Such an amazing and fascinating place, never heard of so many hundreds of miles of a cave. The cave entrance looks similar with the entrance of the cave we visited last fall in Provence, and we had just to wait until the automated system unlocked it for us🙂
Thank you, Christie! This one can only be entered with a guide.
The cave got my attention, as I’ve always been fascinated by them. Sounds like this area is definitely worth a visit – hadn’t known about it until now. Thanks for the tour.
Thanks for reading the post. It’s a wonderful national park.
Fourteen unique species in one cave, now that’s a real claim to fame!
That cave is amazing!!! I love parks like this, fun hiking and beautiful!
It looks like a lovely area to explore – the caves are really cool and unique and it looks like a great area for hiking.
It looks beautiful! Thanks for all the great info – it’s now on my list!
Thank you, Patty!
With that many miles of caves you could cross England from one side to the other.
Wow! I didn’t know that.
Think the widest part of England is about 300 odd miles
Wow, I didn’t realize that England was that “skinny”. Texas is 733 miles east to west, and if you’re driving, it feels like thousands of miles.
Beautiful cave. Sad story about the TB facility. I think they had progress with TB patients in the fresh air in the Adirondacks. There were facilities built on lakes up there where people were encouraged to rest on chairs in the sun.
Thankfully, that disease can be controlled now.
When I traveled to Asia to work, I was required to get a test before I went, one halfway through my time there, and one when I returned. A co-worker actually had it in her system there, but as you say she was able to get treated. I guess it will still show as being in your system years later.
When I was a kid working in food service, I had to get the test once a year. They don’t require that – in Texas at least – anymore.
Looks like a wonderful tour. Thanks for sharing. Allan
Thank you, Allan!
Again my comment here has disappeared even though I have a notification that you ‘liked’ it 😢
I love the way that you write out your traveling journies. It feels as if I am on the trip with you! Beautiful pictures and details that keep me captivated. Thank you so much for sharing!!
Thanks so much, J. I appreciate you very much.
We visited Mammoth Cave last November and signed up for the Grand Avenue Tour, which overlapped with the Frozen Niagara section. We unfortunately didn’t have enough time to explore any of the trails in the park and we missed the historic entrance. Glad to see what we were missing through your pictures.
Thank you so much for checking out our post. We didn’t get to do the Grand Avenue Tour, but Mike isn’t all that keen on caves.
The Grand Avenue Tour is the longest walking tour that the park offers and was four hours long. So it’s definitely not meant for people who don’t like caves or dark spaces! At least you got to do the Frozen Niagara Tour, which showcases some of the most impressive formations found in the cave.
Yes, we really did enjoy the Frozen Niagara tour, but we’ve spoiled by Carlsbad Caverns. I think we enjoyed our hike at Mammoth Cave just as much as the caves.
I am just so impressed with your travels. So cool. Robert and I are much more “local.” But we want to expand.
Well, as we always say, “Just get in the car.” But honestly that’s easier said than done – we put a lot of time and effort into planning our road trips. I hope you and Robert do get to expand your horizons. Our country has so much that is beautiful and interesting. Thank you so much for reading our posts and for your nice comments.