Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park

Activities & Programs

Regardless of the season, there is no limit to activities and programs available in Mammoth Cave and the surrounding area. The following is a partial list of the various recreational activities, classes, programs and tours offered in and around the park.


Bicycles are allowed in the park on the park roads. No bicycles, roller-blades or roller skates are permitted on the trails in the park, except for the designated bicycle trail. The bike trail is a 9-mile-long gravel trail that connects the town of Park City to the center of Mammoth Cave National Park.


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 bird-watching 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). Bird watching 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.

Boating and Canoeing

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, scenic woodlands and wildlife. Boating from Dennison Ferry launch area to Houchins Ferry down the Green—the very waterway that shaped the cave system of Mammoth some 3 million years ago—is a popular, six-hour voyage. The access at Dennison is steep and therefore suitable for small johnboats and canoes only. For a longer, overnight trip, launch at Munfordville—located upstream from the park boundary. No launch fees are necessary in the park, but riverside camping requires a free backcountry permit. Dotted with sandbars, islands and subsurface springs, the Green River averages 200 feet wide and 10 feet deep; at normal water levels, it runs at about five miles per hour. Motorized craft are permitted, although canoes—available for rental outside Mammoth—and rowboats fare better against the rocks in Nolin River. For rentals, call Green River Canoeing, Inc.: (800) 651-9909; Mammoth Cave Canoe and Kayak: (270) 773-3366.


There are three campgrounds in Mammoth Cave National Park. They are: Mammoth Cave Campground, Houchin Ferry Campground, and Maple Springs Group Campground.


Fishing in the Green and Nolin Rivers is good throughout the year, with spring and summer being most productive. Black bass, crappie, bluegill, muskellunge and catfish, along with almost 80 other species, frequent the river. You do not need a state fishing license as long as you fish within park boundaries. In the park, you can fish with pole and line, rod and reel, or trot and throw line. Other methods, including limb lines and jug lines, are prohibited. If you use trot lines, you must attach a tag with your name and address, place hooks 30 or more inches apart, tend your lines daily, and remove lines when you are not using them.

At First Creek Lake, using any live bait other than worms is prohibited. On the rivers, you can use minnows or worms. Using bait seines in the park is prohibited. Because all park wildlife is protected, collecting frogs, turtles, mussels or digging for bait is strictly prohibited. Harvesting of any mussels—endangered or otherwise—is strictly prohibited.


In addition to the underground cave tours, there are 85 miles of trails in the park. Seek solitude in the rugged hills and deep valleys, camp by river, lake or waterfall, explore bluffs and ridge tops.

Horseback Riding

Sixty miles of trails north of the Green River are open for horseback riding. Day-use horseback riders can park trailers at Lincoln, Temple Hill and Good Spring trailheads.

A trail map is available in the National Park Service's free brochure, while other maps and guides sold at the visitor center show topographic features and trails in greater detail.

The Green River Ferry is open daily from 6 a.m. to 9:55 p.m. (except when closed for repairs or during hazardous river conditions). Alternate routes via state and county roads are available and may be more practical for trailers.

Ranger Activities and Programs

Rangers deliver 10-minute orientation talks near the visitor center. Longer surface activities, offered in season, start from specified locations. Near Headquarters Campground, rangers give seasonal evening programs at the amphitheater. Parking near both locations can accommodate non-campers. A schedule of ranger-led walks, evening programs and auditorium programs is available at the visitor center. For more information on ranger-led tours, call (270) 758-2180.

Scenic Driving

Try Flint Ridge, Green River Ferry, Maple Springs Loop, Houchin Ferry and Ugly Creek roads for a spectacular tour of the park. The latter roads are not passable for trailers or mobile homes. Drive slowly and keep your eyes open for wildlife. Ask for more information about scenic driving at the visitor center.