Let me start off by giving you a little background knowledge on Mammoth Cave. It has been around since the early 1800s making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States and Kentucky’s oldest. Legend has it that it was first discovered by a two European brothers John Houchin and/or Francis Houchin. The story goes on to say that while hunting, they shot and wounded a bear. It was during their search for the wounded bear that they discovered the cave’s large entrance. Well, just how large is this cave to deserve the name Mammoth you ask? Well, the dome entrance is actually 192 feet tall! Wow! Right? Well, not only is it tall, it is by far the longest known cave system in the world with over 4,000 miles of passages!!! It comes in a whopping first place with 405 miles of mapped and surveyed cave passages. Coming in a distant 2nd place is Sistema Dos Ojos, located in Quintana Roo, Mexico, with 215.4 miles of mapped and surveyed cave passage.
I definitely recommend for you to tour Mammoth cave. They offer a variety of tours with different fees,there is something for everyone it just depends on what you want to experience and what your budget is. However, I would STRONGLY suggest that you that you book your tour well in advance so that you could secure your spot. We opted for the Domes and Dripstones tour. The cost was $15 per adult and $10 per child. It is well worth the money you pay. This tour lasts about 2 hours and has about 500 narrow but not hard to manage steps (round trip). I would also suggest going to the front of the tour line (especially with children). Not only do you get to hear all the wonderful information that the tour guide is giving but since you are at the front of the line you set the pace for the rest of the tour. The one thing that stuck in my head from the guided tour was stalactites are on top because they are holding on tight so they so fall; and stalagmites are on the floor because you might trip over them. LOL!
My kids favorite part of the tour was when we came to the resting area. During this time the tour guide turned out what little light there was in the cave and asked everyone to be extremely quiet. It was so very eerily quite he went on to say that this is what over 3,000 miles of the cave is like because they are not mapped. The kids were just blown away by it. They also enjoyed seeing the fossil imprints of the sea life from years ago. Another fascinating thing we got to see was the 105 ft deep “Bottomless Pit”. This was a bit scary to see. The guide went on to say that it is unknown where the ending of the pit is. It was just so informative and so breathtakingly beautiful. It was definitely an experience to remember. Once you finish the Domes tour you arrive at the beginning of the Dripstones tour. The guide will give you the option to continue to see it (you might get a bit wet) or you can go over it and wait on the other side. I opted to take the younger ones and skip it. My husband went with the older ones and did the tour. They said it was so beautiful!
They ask that you arrive early for your tour so while you wait they have many things for you to do. We decided to start off by having the kids work on the Junior Ranger booklets. They absolutely loved this activity and it kept them quiet while we were waiting for the tour to begin. Once they finished the booklet and got their Jr. Ranger pins. We decided to go visit the museum that they have in the visitor center (please allow about 30 mins. to complete). The museum gives you background information on the cave and how it was developed. They have several pictures of them developing it. They also have pictures of all the cave animals. One the tour we got see cave crickets and spiders!
On your way to see Mammoth Cave you pass a little country cemetery named Little Hope. It is a very old cemetery from the people who used to live in the surrounding farms. It is rich is history for example it is the final resting spot of James Adair and James Robinson, who both fought in the War of 1812.
So, is Mammoth Cave the only thing you can do when you visit Mammoth Cave National Park? Nope, this National Park is actually an International Biosphere Reserve with 53,000 acres of natural preserve. Whoa! You can go hiking, fishing, paddling and wildlife viewing. We were only able to do the wildlife viewing and we spotted several animals such as deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, and others. All in all it was a great place to visit. I definitely recommend you stop by and take a peek if you find yourself in Cave City, KY.
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