Formations in Cavern
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Mammoth Cave National Park

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Mammoth Cave National Park is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kentucky's Caves and Lakes region. It preserves the world's longest known cave system, with over 360 miles of caves. The park was established in 1941 and currently draws nearly two million visitors annually.



Kentucky has a moderate climate, characterized by warm, yet moist conditions. Summers are usually warm, and winters cool. An average 46 in (116 cm) of precipitation fall in spring, the rainiest season.

Flora and Fauna

Mammoth Cave National Park is home to over 70 threatened, endangered or state listed species. More than 130 species are regular inhabitants of the caves. These species are divided almost equally among three classes of cave life: obligate cave dwellers known as troglobites, facultative species which can complete their life cycle in or out of caves (troglophiles), and those that use caves for refuge (trogloxenes). The Park has cave species and biotic cave communities that are among the most diverse in the world. Because of its diverse array of landscapes and habitats, the Park contains an extraordinary 1300 species of plants.

Getting there

Most visitors access the park from two roadways which have interchanges with Interstate 65, one near Park City, Kentucky (KY 255) and the other near Cave City (KY 70). KY 70 also enters the park from the west side of the park, near Brownsville. No entrance fee is charged.

No public transportation is available. The nearest commercial airports are in Louisville and Nashville.

Traveling around

Cave tours depart from the park visitor center in buses.

No public transportation is available in the area, including taxi service.

Things to do

  • Visit "Kentucky Down Under", a tremendously fun hands-on, educational animal park focused on the diverse species and aboriginal culture of Australia. It's adjacent to the National Park and you can touch exotic reptiles, pet kangaroos, emus, feed lambs and baby goats, and interact with colorful birds in a huge, walk-in aviary. You can see wallabies, dingoes, and some fantastically exotic birds. While there, you can also go on a cave tour, eat fudge and other treats at the shops and cafe, play aboriginal instruments, and more. I think the best part was getting to see a little joey moving about inside its mother pouch and learning the details about said pouch. Amazing. Perfect for kids and adults. Off I-65 at Exit 58

  • Take a tour of the cave. The Frozen Niagara tour and the Historical tour are both recommended, and each gives a very different perspective of the cave. You might also want to look into wild caving if you want a more adventurous experience. There are plenty of varieties of tours, from easy to grueling. Information on all tours and prices can be found at the above-mentioned NPS website.

  • Consider touring with the some of the private companies as opposed to just the park rangers. That's the only way you can explore the underground river and the eyeless fish.

  • Do take the time to learn about a man named Floyd Collins. There have been several books written about his ordeal of being trapped in a cave in 1925. (Don't worry about becoming trapped as a tourist; he was an extreme cave explorer!) Unbelievable history!


A restaurant is located at the Mammoth Cave Hotel. This is the only public food service within the park proper.

Fast-food restaurants are found in Cave City (McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Long John Silver's, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen), as well as Cracker Barrel and Jerry's family-style restaurants, and three independent restaurants. More dining options are found ten miles east of Cave City in Glasgow, or 28 miles south in Bowling Green.

For a taste of the local food, be sure to try The Sahara Steak House.


Barren and Edmonson counties are "dry," though residents of Cave City voted in November 2005 to allow liquor by the drink in restaurants only. The nearest full liquor service and sales are in Bowling Green.


Motel and camping facilities are available within the park itself. National chain motels can be found in nearby Cave City and Park City. There are also Bed and breakfasts located just minutes from the park.


  • Mammoth Cave Hotel, Phone: (270) 758-2225 is located within the park. It features 42 standard motel-style rooms, 20 more rooms in the "Sunset Lodge" near the main hotel facility, and two groups of cottages with limited facilities (open only during summer). Nightly rates range from $38 for cottages to $92 for motel rooms during the summer. A restaurant, snack bar and gift ship are on the premises. The hotel is just across a small ravine from the Visitor Center, from which all cave tours depart. A paved trail adjacent to the hotel leads directly to the Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave.

  • Serenity Hill Bed and Breakfast , Phone: (270) 597-9647 is located on KY 70 (Mammoth Cave Road), situated on a hill top just a mile out of Mammoth Cave National Park. The decor can only be described as casually elegant. The 3 guest rooms are comfortably decorated and have full private baths. Sit, back, relax and enjoy the views from any of the rooms or the large covered porch. Serenity Hill is located just minutes from the Turn Hold Bend and Cedar Sink hiking trails. Brownsville is just 4 miles away.


Mammoth Cave National Park has several camping options. The Headquarters Campground, adjacent to the visitor center, has 109 spaces suitable for all types of RV's. No hookups are provided; a shower/toilet house is available. $16/night ($8 with Golden Age/Golden Access pass), maximum stay 14 days. Houchins Ferry Campground is a primitive 12-site campground, not suitable for RV's or trailers and accessible only by ferry. $12/night ($6 with Golden Age/Golden Access pass). Maple Springs Group Campground is located six miles from the visitor center, and features seven sites for up to 24 campers each; four sites have horse facilities. $25/night.

Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Campground , a full service campground, is located about seven miles from the visitor center on KY 70 near Cave City. It features sites for both RV's and tents, plus a wide variety of cabins, including bunkhouses suitable for groups. Wi-fi Internet access is provided.

Diamond Caverns Resort Campground is located on KY 255 near the I-65 interchange. The entrance is actually located within the park itself (thanks to a recent expansion of the park along KY 255), but the campground is independent of the park. It is a part of Diamond Caverns Resort and Golf Club, with check-in located at the resort's main office. Full-service sites are available, and a recreation center with full workout facilities is on site.

Cave Country RV Campground , Kentucky's newest RV park opened May 12, 2006. Located less than one mile form I-65, exit 53, this modern RV park offers full hookup sites with easy pull-through access. Super sites to 80' for the biggest diesel pushers are within walking distance of many local restaurants. Exercise equipment in the rec room, day trip plans, and free Wi-fi are offered to campers.


Shopping is not one of the area's strong points. However, a group of antique shops are located in downtown Cave City.


Wear a hard hat


There are no fees to enter the park. Guided cave tours, however, range from $4.00 to $45.00.

Get out

  • Nashville, the home of country and gospel music (including the Grand Ole Opry), is located about 75 miles south of the park on I-65.

  • Louisville is the home of the Kentucky Derby, the world's most famous horse race. 80 miles north of the park on I-65.

  • Bowling Green is home of the factory where the Corvette sports car is manufactured, the nearby National Corvette Museum, and the Lost River Cave. 28 miles south on I-65.

  • Barren River Reservoir State Resort Park features extensive boating and fishing on a man-made reservoir. A lodge and large campground are located in the park. From Mammoth Cave, take KY 70 to Cave City, KY 90 to Glasgow, then south on U.S. 31-E to the park, about 20 miles from Mammoth Cave. The park is home to the annual Glasgow Highland Games, one of the largest Scottish athletic evens in the nation.

  • Lexington, the "Horse Capital of the World" and home to many Thoroughbred horse farms. 100 miles northeast; take I-65 north to Elizabethtown, then the Martha Layne Collins Blue Grass Parkway east to Lexington.

Contact & location

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The photos displayed on this page are the property of one of the following authors:

blmurch, Jeff Kubina, Michael Ginnerup

Some photos courtesy of: , . The photos provided by Flickr, Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners.

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

Peter Fitzgerald, Jesse Miers, Jesse G., Eric Polk, Oliver Buchino, Stacy Hall, Nick Roux, David, Bill Johnson, Ryan Holliday, Evan Prodromou and John Lambrechts, Serenityhillbb and Draeco

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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