Tri-State Travel: Trekking the passageways of Mammoth Cave

Cave crawlers on the Wild Cave Tour (Source: NPS)
Cave crawlers on the Wild Cave Tour (Source: NPS)

MAMMOTH CAVE, KY (FOX19) - Looking to get your Indiana Jones on? We've got the answer just three hours south of town.

Mammoth Cave National Park is located near Brownsville, Kentucky, and encompasses the longest cave system known to man. It goes on FOR-EV-VER, with over 390 miles of passageways, hence the name 'Mammoth'.

The history of this place spans six thousand years. Fast forward to 1961, when it was established as a national park, and designated as a World Heritage Site in 1981.

Park rangers lead visitors on a number of cave tours throughout the year, including the Mammoth Passage Tour, the Frozen Niagara Tour and Historic Tour. Be sure to lace up your gym shoes, as each expedition is ranked by difficulty between easy, moderate or strenuous.


The Mammoth Passage Tour is considered the 'smorgasbord' of cave trekking. Park officials describe it as the perfect tour for a short visit. Participants are dazzled by the Rotunda Room, the Narrows, and an outdoor hillside trail. It lasts an hour and 15 minutes, covering 3/4 of a mile.

You can read more about the Mammoth Passage Tour, and others offered, on the National Park Service website.

But guess what? All of the awesomeness doesn't lay 200 feet underground. If water is your thing, the Green and Nolin Rivers flow through the park. Whether you're looking to hook some catfish, get active in a kayak or simply riverside camp, it's there.

You can enjoy bike and nature trails. You can horseback ride. You can snap your next Instagram at a giant sinkhole along Cedar Sink Trail. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Getting There:

Mammoth Cave National Park is just a stone's throw away from Bowling Green, KY. From downtown Cincinnati, Google Maps estimates a comfortable 3 hour, 4 minute drive. Take I-71 south to I-65, taking exit 53 (Cave City). Turn right onto KY-70, following 70/255 until you've reached your destination! The park address is 1 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259.


Cave tour ticket prices vary between tours. Children ages 6-12 and senior citizens are discounted. Those under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Campsite/picnic area fees start at $17, and increase depending on reservation type.


If staying overnight is an option, the Mammoth Cave Hotel is located in the park. It provides a more 'rustic' feel and houses a gift shop. Several hotels and bed & breakfasts are also located in nearby towns like Cave City.

For some, camping is an absolute, 100%, no ifs, ands or buts about it, big fat no.

For others, it's the only way to experience such a gem as Mammoth Cave National Park (Not to mention, it's cheap!). The Mammoth Cave campground closes from December to February, but is open on a first come, first serve basis throughout the rest of the year.

Final Thought:

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, "Nature spontaneously keeps us well. Do not resist her!"

Mammoth Cave began forming some ten million years ago, and left us with an underground network of natural beauty.

Most of us live, work and play in urban USA. Maybe all we need is a dose of natural every now and then. With the holidays behind us, and a brand new year ahead, what better time is there to explore than now?

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