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Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park






Description of Mammoth Cave National Park

Location: Kentucky

Area: 52,830 acres (21,380 ha)

Info: (270) 758 2180

Open: Mar- Oct 8am- 6pm daily

Nov- Feb 8:45am- 5pm

Closed: Dec. 25


Fees and permits
There are no fees to enter the park. Guided cave tours, however, range in price from $5 to $48.


Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest cave system known in the world situated in central Kentucky. Mammoth Cave National Park covers an area of 52,830 acres (21,380 ha) in Barren, Edmonson and Hart counties. Mammoth Cave National Park comprising parts of the Colossal Cave (Mammoth Cave) is the largest cave system in the world. The official name of the system is the Mammoth Cave System, although it could be called the Flint-Mammoth-Toohey-Eudora-Joppa-Jim Lee Cave System to allude to the hills under which the cave has been formed. The park was constituted as a national park on July 1, 1941. It became a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981 and a Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990.




The Mammoth Cave in southwestern Kentucky is a calcareous cavern that has more than 484 km of galleries at five different heights. It is the longest known cave system in the world. Its underground currents form the Green River. At the deepest level it reaches about 110 m below the surface. It is home to endemic terrestrial and aquatic cave animals such as molluscs, arthropods, and vertebrates: spiders, gamaros, a crayfish, and several species of blind fish. All of them lacking eyes and born as albinos. The temperature inside the cave remains almost constant at 12.2 ° C. In some parts of the cave the crystals of calcite, gypsum and other precipitated minerals cover the rock formations forming striking landscapes.

The 21,380 hectares of Mammoth Cave park (214 km²) are located in Edmonson County (Kentucky), with small areas extending eastward through Hart County and Barren County. It is centered around the Green River with a tributary, the Nolin River that flows into the Green just inside the park. Green River has a dam near the west boundary of the Mammoth Cave park, so the river only flows freely in a stretch of the eastern part of the park.

The Mammoth Cave was discovered and used by humans before the arrival of Europeans to the continent. There are archaeological remains of native inhabitants of prehistoric times. In 1835 the mummified body of a pre-Columbian man was found. It was rediscovered in 1798. During the American War of 1812, "La Rotonda", the great chamber of the main cave, was excavated in search of potassium nitrate to make gunpowder. Almost two million people visit the park every year.



Cave tours

During the summer it is possible to explore a tiny part of the cave without a ranger, but all other areas of the cave require a ranger guide. Besides the year round tours, there are many others that are offered seasonally. It is best to check the park website, or contact the park directly for exact tours offered during your planned visit. In the summer, reservations are strongly recommended as tours sell out quickly, but at other times of year it is usually possible to sign up for a tour when you arrive at the park.

Domes and Dripstones Tour. Offered daily, year-round. A tour that includes a dramatic series of domes and pits. This tour includes the entirety of the cave covered in the Frozen Niagara Tour. The tour lasts 2 hours and covers 3/4 of a mile (1.2 km). Approximately 500 steps must be traversed. $12.
Frozen Niagara Tour. Offered daily, year-round. This short tour visits the most highly-decorated area of the cave, offering a chance to see cave formations including the massive "Frozen Niagara". The tour lasts for 1.25 hours and covers approximately a quarter of a mile (400 m), with a few stairs and some ducking. $10.
Historic Tour. Offered daily, year-round. This tour enters through the natural entrance and covers two miles of cave passages, including Fat Man's Misery, several old mining areas, Mammoth Dome, and a variety of lengthy caverns. There is a fair amount of ducking, twisting, and stair climbing during the two-hour tour. Note that due to the geology of the site, most of the portion of the cave that you'll see on this tour, while often large and impressive, lacks the stalactites and stalagmites that many people expect to see in limestone caves. If you've only got time for one tour and want to see more "decorated" caves, you should opt for the Domes and Dripstones tour. $12.





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