"The World's Longest Cave" Top 5 Page for this destination Mammoth Cave National Park by goingsolo

Mammoth Cave National Park Travel Guide: 108 reviews and 245 photos

Mammoth Cave National Park was created to protect a seemingly never ending cave. From its early explorations in the mid 1800's to the present time, about 350 miles of the cave have been discovered. There is still more and the dedicated, or obsessed, still labor underground trying to map the boundaries and trying to find out just how long is the world's longest cave.

Mammoth Cave was created by the Green River which flows both above and below ground. Portions of the river rise above the surface in springs and small pools of green water. The surrounding area was once home to Native Americans and, later, settlers. What the population didn't tear down for farming and housing, logging did, and the heavy forest was in danger of being destroyed. To prevent this, the National Park was established. Mammoth Cave is also an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. Due to this conservation, the forests have begun to grow again.

The cave tours are the main draw here, but there are also numerous backcountry trails through the forests, short walks along the Green River and a couple of short, scenic drives which pass remnants of the communities which once lived in the area. Since most people spend their visit either at the visitor's center or belowground, the latter choices are best bets for those seeking a bit of National Park solitude away from the masses.

But don't leave this park without taking at least one of the cave tours, if you can. There are a variety of options, ranging from a couple of hours spent mostly learning about the area to nearly a full day crawling underground. Despite the popularity of the tours, the park is careful to use only about 10 miles of the underground cave system for visitor exploration. In fact, most of the caves explore only a short section of a half mile or less, winding around and coming back through, under or over the same passageways. This is done to protect the cave from use and to preserve the area.

I spent a full day exploring this park. Initially disappointed that the full day cave tour was sold out, I was glad to have the extra time to explore the areas most casual visitors seldom see. Take a look inside and I'll tell you about some of the hidden trails, hidden drives and hidden caves of Mammoth.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unusual park scenery and opportunities to explore.
  • Cons:Remote location with a fairly deserted surrounding area.
  • In a nutshell:A place to explore, both above and below ground.
  • Last visit to Mammoth Cave National Park: Sep 2005
  • Intro Updated Sep 26, 2005
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goingsolo

“"Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life."”

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