Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave Park Regulations

You can make the most of your visit to Mammoth Cave National Park by planning ahead, and becoming acquainted with some simple precautions, all designed to enhance your safety and enjoyment. Please review and observe the following park regulations and safety tips.

Safety Tips

On cave tours, it is vital that you wear proper footwear and select a tour that is appropriate for your physical abilities.

Be aware of ozone alerts. The park occasionally falls under an ozone advisory on hot, sunny days.

Do not approach or feed animals. All animals in the park are wild, and feeding them harms their well-being. All animals can be dangerous.

Examine yourself for ticks after spending time outside. Ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease.

Do not drink from rivers, ponds, lakes or springs in the park without first treating the water. Potable water is available at the visitor center, the hotel, Camper's Store at Houchin Ferry Campground.

When you hike, always tell others where you are going. Sign in at trailhead registers where they are available.

Swimming in the Green River is not recommended due to strong currents and deep holes. Lifeguards are not on duty.

River Regulations

Camping along the floodplain is by permit only. Inquire at the visitor center.

Boats may be taken in and out of the water at Green River Ferry and Houchin Ferry. Canoes may be taken in and out at Green River, Houchin and Dennison Ferries.

All boat passengers must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device. It should be worn at all times while on the river.

Never dump or discharge refuse in the water.

Do not leave boats unattended for longer than 24 hours without written permission from the Chief Ranger.

Boating accidents resulting in property damage, personal injury or death must be reported to a park ranger immediately.

Fishing Regulations

At First Creek Lake, it is prohibited to use any live bait other than worms. On the rivers, you can use minnows or worms. Using bait seines in the park is strictly regulated, so please check with rangers for specific rules.

Park wildlife is protected. Collecting frogs, turtles, mussels, etc., or digging for bait is strictly prohibited.

No fishing license is required in the park.

Kentucky fishing regulations apply. Inquire at the visitor center.

Fish by handline, rod and reel, or trot and throw line. All other methods are prohibited.

Camping Regulations

Confine fires to ground grills.

Never make new fire circles.

Remove dry leaves, grass and other flammable material from the fireplace area and keep fires small.

Use only fallen dead wood for fires.

Do not hang lanterns in trees to prevent forest fires.

Quiet hours: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

When using radios, generators, motors and other noisy equipment; do not disturb your neighbors.

Pets must be on a leash and under physical restraint at all times.

Do not leave pets unattended at your campsite.

Never chop, cut, saw or drive nails into standing trees.

Chain saws are prohibited.

Fireworks, bows, air rifles, blow guns, sling shots and other weapons capable of destroying or frightening wildlife are prohibited in the park.

Help prevent forest fires—do not hang lanterns on trees.

Do not dig, trench or level the ground at campsites.

For your own protection as well as the protection of park animals, do not feed wildlife. Wildlife needs to depend on its own resources, not ours, to survive in our national parks.

Raccoons often visit campsites in search of food. Keep personal gear such as ice chests, stoves, thermos bottles and fragrant items in your car or trailer.

Carry a flashlight when walking through the campground at night. Poisonous copperheads and rattlesnakes are common.

Horse Regulations

Sites 1, 2, 3 and 4 at Maple Springs Campground are designed to accommodate horses. Do not use any of the other Maple Springs sites if you are camping with horses.

Park vehicles only at the gravel spaces located at each campsite. There is additional parking, in the area across the road from the bulletin board.

Dispose of horse manure by scattering it in the woods at least 200 feet behind the campsites.

Tie your horse to the picket areas located behind sites 1, 2, 3 and 4. Never tie horses to trees.

The central grassy area is for amphitheater and recreational use only. Do not let your horses use the area.

Homeland Security

Mammoth Cave National Park observes the Department of Homeland Security's "Homeland Security Advisory System." In the event of a national park Red Alert, Mammoth Cave National Park will modify tour schedules to increase security and your safety. Be advised that your tour reservation may have to be adjusted.

The following items are not permitted on cave tours or in the visitor center area:

  • Knives
  • Pepper Spray/Mace
  • Sharp Instruments (box cutters, scissors, etc.)
  • Weapons (clubs, batons, brass knuckles, etc.)

The following are not permitted on cave tours:

  • Tripods
  • Strollers
  • Child Backpack Carriers

Please Take Note

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease in bats that is killing these vital animals by the millions, is a potential threat to Mammoth Cave and the bats that live here. The Park's efforts to prevent WNS here may affect what you can wear or bring with you into the cave. Clothing, footwear and handheld items that have previously been worn in caves or mines in certain areas may not be brought into Mammoth Cave. Learn more at the NPS White-Nose Syndrome page.