Mammoth Cave National Park Things to Do

  • Still more formations
    Still more formations
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  • Mammoth Cave Visitors Center
    Mammoth Cave Visitors Center
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  • Ranger Giving Tour
    Ranger Giving Tour
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Most Recent Things to Do in Mammoth Cave National Park

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    Domes and Dripstones tour

    by Dabs Written Sep 22, 2014

    The 1st tour we took was the Domes and Dripstones tour, a 2 hour tour that starts with a short bus ride and then a descent down 280 stairs via a very narrow staircase. We had 3 full buses that held 40 people each so there was at least 120 people on our tour, some of which moved at a very slow rate. Since we were at the head of the line, we spent a lot of time waiting for all those people to take their selfies and whatever else they were doing, I'd highly recommend going at the end of the line so at least you can spend time enjoying the sights on the way day.

    The end of the tour is the most interesting part as you descend 40-50 steps to see the frozen Niagara part of the tour where there are stalagtites and stalagmites.

    The cost was $14 per person

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    Mammoth Cave Baptist Church

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

    When I was leaving the park I decided to take Flint Ridge Road instead of the main road leading to the cave. I did this because I wanted to see more of the park and to see the Mammoth Cave Baptist Church. The Mammoth Cave Baptist Church was established in 1827 and served the people who settled along Flint Ridge. Like its sister church along Joppa Ridge the church was frequently the center of community activities. It is also one of the few buildings remaining from the pre-park days.

    Mammoth Cave Baptist Church Inside the Church
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    Dixon Cave Trail

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

    Near the entrance to Mammoth Cave is a trail that leads past Dixon Cave to the picnic area and back to the visitors center. The trail is short but unpaved with uncertain footing in places. There are also some steps along the trail.

    Dixon Cave Trail Dixon Cave Trail Dixon Cave Trail
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    Native American Display

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

    One of the more interesting displays I saw in the cave was a variety of items found inside the cave from the period Native Americans occupied the cave. There is a nice display of these items toward the end of the portion of the cave you can access without a ranger.

    Artifacts Artifacts Artifacts Artifacts
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    Unusual Uses

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

    Mammoth Cave has been used for some unusual activities through the years. In 1842 Dr. John Croghan used Mammoth Cave as one of the first hospitals devoted entirely to the treatment of Tuberculosis. He believed the constant temperature and humidity in the cave would be useful in treating the disease and built a few stone and wooden huts here. Unfortunately, the environment did not have the desired results. In 1881 a mushroom farm opened here but the venture failed by 1886 due to bad management. A Christmas celebration was held here in 1883 and a variety of musicians have come here throughout the years to test he acoustical qualities of the cave.

    Unusual Uses
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    Layers

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

    The limestone that forms the cave is porous so water easily seeps through it. Sometimes this water carries heavier minerals like the metals you see in the reddish layer here. This layer is caused by the heavier more dense rock that is located under the limestone forming the floor of the cave.

    Layers
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    The Twilight Zone

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

    This area is called the "Twilight Zone". It is the part of the cave where there is barely enough natural light to see by and the first part of the cave where it gets too dark to see without artificial light. Few plants can live in this zone. Some animals come here to seek shelter and to escape predators.

    Twilight Zone
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    Inside the Cave

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

    Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave in the world. There are ranger-led tours through some of the cave. Only a very small portion of the cave (much less than at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico) is open for self-led exploration.

    Trail Inside Cave Trail Inside Cave Trail Inside Cave Inside the Cave
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    Animal Life

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

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    There are eight species of bats living in Mammoth Cave and nearby Dixon Cave. Two of these, the Indiana Bat and the Gray Bat are on the Endangered Species List. There are other types of animals that have adapted to the dark environment of Mammoth Cave like the Northern Cave Fish, Southern Cave Fish and other species of colorless, eyeless crayfish and shrimp. Mammoth Cave is the only place where both Northern Cave Fish and Southern Cave Fish coexist. Interpretive signs will acquaint you with these animals.

    Animals Interpretive Sign
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    Historic Entrance

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

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    This is the historic entrance to Mammoth Cave. Part of what drew ancient peoples in the area to discover the entrance was chilly air emanating through the hole. During the summer warmer air enters the cave through upper entrances or holes and creates a partial vacuum inside the cave. Colder air is then forced out of the lower historical entrance. This process is reversed in the winter.

    Historical Entrance Historical Entrance
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    Trail to Cave

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

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    The trail leading from the visitors Center to the cave is relatively short and paved. If I remember correctly it is wheelchair accessible. There are some informative signs about the geology of the area and the formation of the cave along the trail. As you walk to the cave you will see the sandstone and shale "caprock" that covers the limestone that forms the cave. This caprock was deposited here some 280 million years ago by an ancient river and covered the limestone formed some 350 million years ago by an inland sea. Mammoth Cave was formed by the erosion of this 600 foot expanse of limestone.

    Trail to Cave Trail to Cave
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    Mammoth Cave Railroad

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

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    The Mammoth Cave Railroad was a spur line that hauled freight and passengers from Glasgow Junction to the Mammoth Cave area. The railroad used steam engines that burned fuel, to heat water, to produce steam. This steam was then pressurized through a valve into a piston that drove the wheels of the train. These small engines were deceptively strong. The strongest engine was called "Hercules" and was capable of hauling massive loads up the Kentucky hills. Occasionally local boys would soap the tracks as a joke causing the engines to lose traction.

    Mammoth Cave Railroad
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    Historic Mammoth Cave Hotel

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

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    After driving along the southern part of the park, I headed toward the main part of the park and the cave. Along the way I stopped to see the Mammoth Cave Hotel. There have been three hotels on this spot. The first was built in 1811 as small quarters to house slaves that were mining saltpeter from the caves to make gunpowder for the War of 1812. This hotel stood for more than a century and was one of the finest hotels in the state of Kentucky. The current building is the third one to occupy this spot and is reported to be a fine hotel.

    Mammoth Cave Hotel Mammoth Cave Hotel Cabins
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    Joppa Missionary Baptist Church

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

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    The Joppa Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1862. The settlers along the Joppa Ridge had a very strong sense of community and the church was often the heart of the community. Many of the stories told about life in the past along Joppa Ridge concern weddings, births, church socials and other activities in the church. The church is located on the Brownsville Road which runs along the southern boundary of the park.

    Joppa Missionary Baptist Church Joppa Missionary Baptist Church Inside Joppa Missionary Baptist Church
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    Changes in Terrain

    by Basaic Written Dec 27, 2011

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    Years ago this area was dotted with the farms of homesteaders hoping to make a living growing crops in these fertile river valleys. These homes, fences and other indications of the homesteads were torn down in 1941 when the park was established. Look at the area today and most of the evidence of this past has been eliminated as the forest reclaims the land.

    Reemerging Forest
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Mammoth Cave National Park Things to Do

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