1 Mammoth Cave Parkway
P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259
September – May, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Summer months, 8:00 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Cave Tours are offered every day except December 25
Mammoth Cave National Park encompasses 52,830 acres in south central Kentucky, commemorating the diverse geological, biological and historical features associated with the longest cave in the world. The surface landscape highlights rare plants and dense forest, a diverse aquatic ecosystem in the Green and Nolin Rivers, and hallmark geologic features of a classic karst terrain. Great Onyx Job Corps Center, under the Department of Labor, is located in the park on the north side of the Green River.
Native Americans discovered Mammoth Cave about 4,000 years ago and continued to use it for 2,000 years. In the late 1790’s settlers "rediscovered" the cave, and during the War of 1812 slaves mined saltpeter from the cave sediments to be used in the manufacture of gunpowder. Tours began in 1816, increasing the cave’s notoriety and drawing visitors in ever greater numbers. Over a century of private ownership and exploration of the cave followed. In 1926, Congress authorized the formation of a national park in the Mammoth Cave area to protect the caves, hilly country, and scenic river valleys typical of south central Kentucky. The park was officially established on July 1, 1941. It later gained World Heritage Site designation in 1981 and became the core area of an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990.
Mammoth Cave National Park is one of the greatest protectors of plants and animals in Kentucky – underground and on the surface.
In the Cave
Of the more than 130 species documented in the cave, 12 are eyeless, unpigmented cave dwellers such as fish, crayfish, beetles and harvestmen. Over millions of years, many of these species were isolated from other caves, resulting in fragile and unique populations. Three endangered species – Kentucky cave shrimp, Indiana bat and Gray bat – call Mammoth Cave home.
On the Surface
While most of the park consists of second-growth woodland, a number of special plant communities – wetlands, rare Kentucky prairies, hemlock groves and sinkhole microclimates – harbor many of the park’s rare species. The park’s diverse plant communities support deer, raccoon, opossum, gray squirrel, rabbit, woodchuck, muskrat, beaver, red fox, coyote, beavers, hawks, owls, and wild turkey – just to name the most common creatures. The Green River supports more than 80 species of fish, and more than 70 species of freshwater mussels live in the river sand, gravel and mud. This bounty of life makes the Green River one of the most biologically diverse river habitats in the National Park System.
The world’s longest cave, plus cool green forests, misty rivers, and steep limestone bluffs – all at Mammoth Cave National Park, just off I-65 in south-central Kentucky. The park has 10 miles of developed cave trails, 31 miles of the Green and Nolin Rivers to canoe and fish, 101 miles of roads to drive, and 80 miles of trails. The park offers cave tours, hiking, horse trails, biking, canoeing and fishing. Overnight accommodations in the park include three campgrounds (one accommodates groups and campers with horses) and the Mammoth Cave Hotel. Cave tours vary from one-quarter to six miles, and one and one half to six hours; the greatest variety of tours is offered in the summer season, and some tours have age and size restrictions. Check the park website for park information, or call 1-270/758-2180. Reservations for cave tour tickets ($4-$48) and campsites ($17-$30) are encouraged and can be made at the following web site: www.recreation.gov; or by phone, 1-877/444-6777.
Concessioners operate canoe and horse liveries. Most facilities are handicapped accessible. Inquire about Mammoth Cave Hotel facilities at 1-270/758-2225.