With over 400 miles of cave and growing, Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest cave system in the world; covering over 52,000 acres. Mammoth cave is layered with thick Mississippian-aged limestone that’s has layers of sandstone to make this cave system extremely stable. Mammoth Cave National Park was established in 1941 to preserve the cave system. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1981 and became the core area of an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990.
Overall, this park is easily accessible by road and many cave tours are available nearly every hour year-round (except Christmas Day). All cave tours begin and end at the Visitor Center can range from easy to difficult with tour length from one to six hours. Cave trails are lit with electric lights but some tours are pitched dark and you’ll have to carry a lantern. If you’re comfortable with dark and small spaces, you’re here for a treat! If your’e not, then this place could be challenging because the pathways are really narrow and rugged.
There are 17 tours but we only did 3 of the tours of the tours that fit our schedule.
Mammoth Passage Tour – This is an easy 1.25 hours cave tour that covers ¾ mile. The tour takes you through the Rotunda and a large canyon passageway to view the dripstone formations. Overall, it was the perfect short tour to give you a quick introduction to Mammoth Cave’s history. If you’re visiting the park during peak seasons, please plan in advance and book your tours here .
Historic Tour – This is a moderate 2 hours cave tour that explores 2 miles of cave system. This tour enters the cave system via a natural entrance, so please come early or plan to stay later after the tour to enjoy and experience the beauty of this natural entrance. You’re experience the Bottomless Pit and squeeze through Fat Man's Misery which is a really narrow pathway to get through.
Domes and Dripstones Tour – In this tour, you’ll ride a 10 minute bus ride to get to sink-hole/man-made entrance that takes you through a ¾ mile cave system. The tour begins with a descend of approximately 280 stairs then takes you through various sizes of domes and pits, and ends with a short walk through a variety of dripstone formations. If Mammoth is your first cave visit, this tour is a must as it showcase very unique decorative dripstone formations that must be experienced.
Camping: There are campgrounds in the Mammoth Cave National Park and you can find more information here. Unfortunately, the park’s campgrounds near the visitor center were closed during our visit so we stayed at an RV park right outside the park. The closest city to the park’s main entrance with hotel and motel options is Park City. We stayed at the Diamond Caverns RV Resort & Golf and it was an ok place to stay. We would not stay there again due to lack of wifi on site and limited facilities in the winter. It was also a little pricy for what you get.
Lodging: The other lodging in the park can be booked here.
Closest Cities to the Park:
The easiest city to fly into and visit Mammoth Cave National Park is Nashville, TN or Louisville, TN which is about 2 hours from the park.
Recommended Length Stay: 2-3 days visit would be adequate to explore the park and complete several cave tours.
Would we be back? Yes if we’re driving through Nashville, TN.
Free entrance to the park but you will have to pay for the tours.
Tri-pods are not allowed on the tours so increase your ISO!
Tours are great for kids but it is a little dark on some places so prep your kids.
For more pictures, click here.