Mammoth Cave National Park
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Nestled in the rolling green hills of central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the longest known cave system in the entire world, with more than 400 miles of explored caverns and even more still waiting to be discovered. Sections open to public visitation include the Frozen Niagara area, with cascading flowstone formations, as well as the historic entrance leading to vast chambers such as the Rotunda and Gothic Avenue -- a tunnel whose ceiling is covered with 19th-century signatures.
Central Kentucky has a relatively mild climate, although atmospheric humidity means both summer and winter temperatures can feel uncomfortable. However, the caves themselves are always dark, moist, and chilly, with the air temperature hovering near 54 F -- so visitors are encouraged to bring a light jacket for their tour.
Mammoth Cave National Park is located in quite a rural part of Kentucky, though there are a number of small communities in the vicinity which offer basic facilities like gas, food, and lodging. Park City, Cave City, and Brownsville are all within a twenty minutes’ drive of the visitors center, and the larger town of Bowling Green can be reached in less than an hour.
Although visitors are not permitted to explore the cave on their own, the park offers a wide variety of cave tours for every interest and fitness level, including an accessible tour for guests in wheelchairs. Don’t like small spaces? No problem -- there’s plenty of outdoor adventure to be had on the surface. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, and fishing and boating in the area’s rivers are all popular diversions for those who don’t fancy a subterranean adventure. The Park Service also administers special events on occasion; check the park calendar for full details.
- Spring 65-70 F
- Summer 80-85 F
- Fall 75-80 F
- Winter 45-50 F
- Coming soon
- Coming soon
Mammoth Cave National Park Hiking Trails
There are two sides to this magnificent natural park: the sunlit surface and its subterranean depths. No matter which you choose, you’ll find ample trails awaiting your exploration.
Below, we’ve listed a few of the most popular options on either side of the park. Please note, however, that cave tours are offered on a seasonal basis and may change at any time -- and that they are fee-based services. Please also be advised that these tours may not be suitable for those with a fear of the dark or of small spaces. For full, up-to-date information on cave tours presently on offer at Mammoth Cave National Park, including important guidelines and regulations, click here.
Mammoth Cave National Park Topside Trails
Things to do Outside Mammoth Cave National Park
Even with more than 400 miles of cave trails to explore, you can’t stay underground forever -- even if you wanted to.
When you come up for air, you might as well sneak a meal in, too… and maybe a few fun diversions. Here’s what to see, eat, and do in the Mammoth Cave National Park area.
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Find the Best Dumpstations Near Mammoth Cave National Park
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How to get to Mammoth Cave National Park
Because of its rural location, the National Park Service advises visitors against relying solely on their GPS system to find their way to Mammoth Cave. From the north, take I65 to exit 53 (the Cave City exit). Then turn right onto KY-70, and follow it as it becomes Mammoth Cave Parkway. From southbound I65, take exit 48 (the Park City exit). Then, turn left onto KY-255 and follow it as it becomes the Park City Road into the park.
The closest major airfields to Mammoth Cave National Park are Louisville International and Nashville International, both of which are just over an hour’s drive away. Whether you fly in and rent on-site or drive from your hometown, an RV is the very best way to experience Mammoth Cave National Park -- or any national park, for that matter. You’ll be able to get a jump start on the day by camping within the park boundaries or close to the gates, without having to sacrifice any creature comforts. RVing also allows you to take the road at your leisure, and makes it easy to let spontaneity guide your adventure.
If you don’t have an RV of your own, check out the RV rentals available in your area through RVshare. By renting from a private owner through the peer-to-peer market, you’ll help support another camping enthusiast just like you…and save hundreds of dollars in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mammoth Cave National Park is 82.63 square miles or 52,830 acres large. It encompasses a cave system with more than 420 miles of surveyed passageways.
Mammoth Cave National Park has a moderate climate with warm, humid summers and cool - but not cold - winters. The temperature inside the cave is consistently 54°F year-round.
Yes, pets are allowed at Mammoth Cave National Park. They are not allowed in caves or park buildings, but they are allowed on all surface trails in the park. Pets can also be boarded at the Mammoth Cave Kennels while their owners explore the caves.
Yes, there are designated camping spots in Mammoth National Park. Mammoth Cave Campground and Maple Springs Campground can accommodate RVs and tents, while Houchin Ferry Campground is a tent-only campground. There are also backcountry campsites that can only be accessed by hiking or on horseback. Camping is also allowed along floodplains and on islands that can only be accessed by boat.
Summer is the best time of year to visit Mammoth Cave National Park. There are more tours available to visitors, but of course, there are also more people visiting the park. Winter has fewer tours but also smaller crowds.