Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park

Quick Facts

Mammoth Cave National Park

Kentucky

(270) 758-2180

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. Mammoth Cave developed in thick Mississippian- aged limestone strata, capped by a layer of sandstone making the system remarkably stable. It is known to include more than 390 miles (630 km) of passageway. New discoveries and connections add several miles to this figure each year. Mammoth Cave National Park was established to preserve the cave system. The National Park Service offers several cave tours to visitors. Many of the most famous features of the cave, such as Grand Avenue, Frozen Niagara, and Fat Man's Misery, can be seen on lighted tours. The park was established as a park in 1941 and later a world heritage site in 1981. 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.

Map of Mammoth Cave

Latitude, Longitude: 37.188524, -86.105578

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Activities

  • Boating

    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.

  • Bird Watching

    Mammoth Cave National Park is home to approximately 200 species of birds, with many of them being seen during their migrations twice a year, north then south. Some of what have been sighted in the park include 37 species of warblers (17 of these actually call the park their home during the breeding season), four species of owls, seven species of woodpeckers, scarlet and summer tanagers, 17 species of sparrows, six species of hawks, and wild turkeys. The birdwatching near the Green River is also notable for its diversity: a possible 20 species of ducks and geese, 10 species of herons and bitterns, not to mention the bald eagle (which has now been found nesting in the park). Birdwatching during the spring and fall migrations can show the best diversity and the birds are traveling to their winter and summer grounds, which can be highlighted by hundreds of sandhill cranes flying overhead.

  • Camping

    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--Mammoth Cave Campground, Houchin Ferry Campground, and Maple Springs Group Campground--and in primitive sites in the backcountry along the Green and Nolin Rivers.

  • Caving

    Since 1816, visitors have toured the subterranean labyrinths of Mammoth Cave. Discover what adventures await you on the many Cave Tours. Many of the most famous features of the cave, such as Grand Avenue, Frozen Niagara, and Fat Man's Misery, can be seen on lighted tours. Two tours, lit only by visitor-carried paraffin lamps, are popular alternatives to the electric-lit routes. Several "wild" tours venture away from the developed parts of the cave into muddy crawls and dusty tunnels.

    The park's tours are notable for the quality of the interpretive program, with occasional graphics accompanying artifacts on display at certain points in the cave. The lectures delivered by the National Park Service cave guides are varied by tour, so that in taking several tours the visitor learns about different facets of the cave's formation, or of the cave's human history and prehistory.

    However, several are available seasonally. Fees for cave tours vary.

  • Fishing

    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 80 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.

  • Hiking

    Hiking in Mammoth Cave National Park can be a fun and rewarding experience as in other national parks. It is a great way to both see and experience the park. Mammoth Cave has over 85 trails, ranging from easy to strenuous.

  • Horseback Riding

    Sixty miles of trails north of the Green River are open for horseback riding. Day-use horseback riders can park trailers at trail heads in the backcountry.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic sites are available; enjoy lunch!

  • Water Sports

    Enjoy boating, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming in the river!

Seasonality/Weather

Summers are usually warm, and winters cool. Kentucky's weather patterns are influenced by the Gulf of Mexico, especially during summer. Much of Kentucky's average 46 inches of precipitation a year falls in spring, the rainiest season. From south to north, precipitation decreases. Southern Kentucky receives the highest average precipitation for the state, about 50 inches a year. Kentucky is located in a path several storm systems follow. Storms happen year-round; most storms, however, occur between March and September.

Park Partners

Mammoth Cave Hotel - Forever Resorts

Forever Resorts offers a variety of accommodations in Mammoth Cave. Visitors have the choice of Hotel Cottages, Woodland Cottages, Sunset Terrace Rooms and Heritage Trail Rooms. The Mammoth Cave Hotel offers southern cooking in three different restaurants. For those looking to go casual and try out local dishes, Travertine Restaurant is the perfect spot. After a long day of hiking, the Crystal Lake Coffee Shop gives hikers a location to pick up a cup of coffee or try a decadent homemade desserts. TrogloBITES is the Hotel's on-site fast food restaurant complete with burgers, fries and sodas. If you are looking for a place to pick up some groceries Caver's Camp Store features auto supplies, groceries, picnic foods, showers, laundry facility and a full-service U.S. Post Office. Forever runs two gift shops, one in the hotel and another called Kentucky Home Gift Shop. Each features local art made by Kentucky Artisans.

(270) 758-2225

Directions

Driving

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.

Flying

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

Public Transportation

There is no public transportation in the park.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(270) 758-2180

Links