Road Trip 2014 – Mammoth Cave, KY

In December 2014, two friends and I set out on a week long road trip from New Jersey to New Mexico and back. Our first major stop along the way was to Mammoth Cave National Park in Mammoth Cave, KY. You may be asking yourself, why would you drive 12 hours to visit a cave? My first answer is “why not?” My second is that Mammoth Cave is actually the longest known cave system in the world extending over 400 miles!!!

The park offers several options for cave tours depending on how much walking you’d like to do and what you’d like to see. We booked the Domes & Dripstones tour that enters through the “new entrance” instead of the natural entrance. To start the tour, our guide herded our group onto a few buses and we took a short drive to the cave entrance.

There were quite a few stairs (200+) going from the entrance down into the cave, but there was plenty to look at as we walked. We visited the cave between Christmas and New Years so the tour was very crowded. We would walk for a bit, gather in a big room and listen to the tour guide speak, then walk some more and gather again. I’d recommend avoiding the park around the holidays because the crowds really detracted from our experience.

The parts of the cave that we walked through were very different from other caves I’ve visited. I’m used to seeing stalagmites and stalactites all over the place, but this cave had more really big rocks. We did stop in one “room” that had the promised dripstone look. It was difficult to take nice pictures inside, but here are a few from the tour:

Mammoth Cave
Walking through the cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave
The highlight of the tour!

Mammoth Cave

After our 2 hour tour was finished, we had the option to walk to the cave’s natural entrance for a few photos. This is the entrance that the Historic Tour enters through.

IMG_5435

As we were leaving the national park, we saw what we believe to be a coyote wandering around. This was the first of many wildlife sightings from our trip!

Coyote

Would I recommend Mammoth Cave National Park? If you’re in the area, yes! When else will you get the chance to visit the longest cave in the world?! Otherwise, I’ve been to more exciting caves closer to home. You could try one of the other tours instead of the Domes & Dripstones tour. They may be more exciting!

Resources: http://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm

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