Scenic USA - Kentucky

Mammoth Cave

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Mammoth Cave - Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Ruins of Karnak (interior) photo courtesy NPS

     Even though summertime temperatures in central Kentucky often reach the 90 degree mark, many here at Mammoth Cave are often seen donning long pants and sweatshirts. Visitors quickly find out that Ruins of Karnak - Mammoth Cave, Kentucky exploring most parts of Mammoth Cave is a cool experience, with average cave temperatures hovering around 54° Fahrenheit. With at least 390 miles of underground passageways, Mammoth Cave is more than twice as long as any other known cave. After your visit, itís easy to imagine how prehistoric people marveled at the frigid air welling up from the mysterious gaping hole in the earth and their surprise at cave rooms the size of today's concert halls. Because cave entrances were cleared of loose rock and restrictions to gain easy access, the National Park Service has taken steps to restore the proper air exchange rate and cool temperatures, encouraging the recolonization of bats and other creatures. With the high numbers of dying bats, possibly due to the white-nose syndrome, these creatures need all the help and protection that's possible.
     After the War of 1812, Mammoth Cave became one of Kentucky's major tourist attractions. More than 100 years passed before Mammoth Cave achieved National Park status. And by 1941, when the park was fully established, only 40 miles of passageways had been mapped. Now, cave explorers have found the cave system extends well beyond the park's borders and is most likely the largest cave in the world. Various cave tours offer park visitors many choices to explore this marvelous underground labyrinth. Turkeys - Mammoth Cave National Park Some of the easiest cave tours vary from a half hour to an hour, while strenuous underground hikes can last up to six hours (Wild Cave Tour).
     With all the focus on the cave and cave tours, visitors are reminded that the park is also located in the scenic hill country of Kentucky. Walking trails and scenic drives follow along the Green River and through Eton Valley along the Flint Ridge Road. Here, above this immense web of underground caverns, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer roam the parkland. For those wary of underground passages, Mammoth Cave National Park may still provide plenty of everyday, ground level entertainment. Visitors to the park often hike and ride horses on the more than 70 miles of surface trails. Fishing and canoeing is also popular on the Green River, as well as picnicking, camping and simply enjoying the great outdoors.

   Directions - NPS
   Area Map


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