While traveling south we took a few days to explore the Mammoth Cave National Park area in Kentucky. If you are not familiar with this area you should make some time to be.
Mammoth Cave National Park is Kentucky’s oldest tourist attraction, a World Heritage Site, and International Biosphere Reserve with 53,000 acres of natural preserve and the longest cave system in the world with over 4000 miles of passages and 400 miles of mapped passageways.
One thing we learned too late was to plan ahead, a few days before you get there is not enough time. It’s not your typical National Park where you can just go and explore the cave. Nope. Guided tours are given daily and are very popular. Reservations are not necessary but highly recommended, as certain tours will sell out quickly. Which is what we found out.
We are not ones to enjoy exploring areas with huge crowds; school tours are very popular here. The most popular tour has a capacity of 118 people! Yup, you heard me right. 118 people, all trying to hear the tour guide. Kids everywhere. Not our idea of fun. A couple of the other tours seemed interesting and small enough, however, with there limited runs, they were sold out when we were there. That’s what we get for waiting til the last minute and not researching before hand. Oh well. We’ll just have to come back.
While Mammoth Cave is named after and known for it’s caves, there are a lot of other fun activities you can do while visiting the park. There is a river that runs through the park that you can rent or bring your own canoe/kayak (which we did consider). There are horse back riding (rental or bring your own horse) trails throughout the park. However, with over 84 miles of above ground trails, we opted to go hiking.
It was a beautiful fall day. Not another person in site. Our kind of day. We spent some time exploring the trails while trying to follow the map the Park Ranger had given to us. Let’s just say the map was not the easiest to follow being a photocopy of a photocopy. The park office was out of stock of their regular maps and brochures so we made do with what we were given.
We came across a natural spring that was as clear as day. It came up from the cave system below and actually had some fish in it.
When we finished up our hike we decided that we could not leave this area, Kentucky’s cave capital, without seeing at least one cave system.
Another popular cave tour in this area is Diamond Caverns. Just a short 10-minute or so drive from Mammoth Cave and still within the National Parks boundaries, its Kentucky’s second oldest show cave, giving tours for over 154 years. And no, it’s not filled with diamonds.
We arrived just in time to catch a tour. With the tour only an hour long, we felt that was plenty of time. We’ve explored caves before you see, when we were in Carlsbad, New Mexico. So, in our opinion, once you’ve seen a cave/cavern, they all start to look alike after a while.
Sorry for the poor quality of photos but while you are in a cave, lighting is not really that prevalent, a flash would just ruin the picture and our phone cameras are only so good while in low light and of course, we didn’t bring any other cameras with us.
With all the activities to do in this area, caving, hiking, biking, kayaking, horse back riding, zip lining, etc, it sure is a good feeling to go back to our home on wheels. There are a few rv parks and campgrounds in the area to choose from. Mammoth Cave National Park has a campground, however, the sites offer no hook ups and is more for smaller rigs.
It was right off the highway but had no highway noise. Yes, there is a train but it seemed to run more sporadically and really wasn’t a bother. It was truly an easy in and out for big rigs and the site was big enough for our 45-foot motor home and tow vehicle, even if we wanted to stay hooked up.
There were many people that were here just for an overnight. The utilities worked well. All except the WiFi of course which they were working on improving. Alas, that seems to be the norm these days. Verizon was good in this area so we used that.
Many restaurants (El Mazatlan Mexican restaurant was very good) in the area and a grocery store (which we did not go check out). The office lady (Barbara) was really nice and she leads you to your site. Which for such a straightforward campground really is not necessary but appreciated. She even sweeps out the utility pole for any creepy crawlies in there. While walking around we noticed that they had some really nice garden areas. We would stay here again if in this area to explore or just passing through.
We only stayed in this area for a couple nights. Only exploring the one-day. When we get back to this area we will be spending more time here and yes, we will be making reservations for some Mammoth Cave tours well in advance. You are close to Bowling Green, Kentucky where yes, there is another cave you can visit. You can also tour the Corvette Museum, lots of antique shops in this area and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is not too far away. Lots more to do and we found out that Fall is a beautiful time of year to explore this area.