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“Exploring in a safe atmosphere”

Mammoth Cave National Park
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A mysterious limestone cave that has fascinated people for 4,000 years.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed 13 August 2014

We took the Historic Tour of the cave. It has many steps including 150ish up a fire tower. I am not in very good physical shape, but was able to make the 2 hour trip. It was hard though and wouldn't recommend it if you have difficulty with steps. The rangers keep moving at a good pace. I found the most difficulty I had was being able to see the grade of the path. It is dimly lit but walking along the path was a bit scary because I couldn't see well in the darkness. I didn't expect that because I have been to Mammoth Cave before several times, but it was over 20 years ago. So my recommendation is that if you have difficulty seeing at night, consider whether this is the trip for you. It's a great tour and the rangers are very knowledgable and helpful. I probably won't do the tour again, but only because of my poor night vision

2  Thank Marsha P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 13 August 2014

My wife and I did 3 tours over the course of a weekend back in March: Historic, Domes and Dripstones, and Star Chamber. We wanted to do the Violet City and perhaps the Wild Cave Tour, but these get quickly booked up weeks/sometimes months in advance, so plan accordingly.

The Historic and Domes/Dripstones tours are the most popular tours, yet run so often that it is possible to walk up and purchase tickets. Tickets are reasonably priced at about $10-12 a person with a duration of about 2 hours. There is some physical exertion required, but it mostly involves ascending staircases(often quite narrow) - a bigger concern is making certain you do not hit your head on rocks jutting overhead. The guides will usually lead you to a point of importance, give some description, then advise the group to rendezvous at the next point(usually an area with some benches to rest). A fair amount of walking is involved with each tour.

The Historic Tour begins at the visitor center before descending a moderately steep hill to a large entrance. A walkway leads to a large room called "The Rotunda" before taking you deeper into the caves and eventually leading to memorable areas such as "Fat Man's Misery". This tour gives you a pretty good idea of just how immense the caves are and the park rangers who lead the tour are fantastic in their enthusiasm and subject matter knowledge. Most of Mammoth Caves is pretty much entwined, small passageways of mostly smooth rock which all look pretty similar after awhile.

Which makes the Domes and Dripstones Tour even more memorable since this tour really provides a great deal of variety of geologic features, oddities, and breathtaking moments which are absent from the rest of the caves. Frozen Niagara really needs to be seen to be believed, as does the "Drapery Room" next to it. Turn a corner and you are promised something new. I would rank this the best of the 3 tours we did just for the sheer entertainment of all the different rock formations you'll encounter.

The Star Chamber Tour was a bit of a disappointment, though. A night-time tour requiring lanterns carried into the cave sounded very appealing and intriguing. The first half hour covers the same ground as the Historic Tour before moving on to a different part of the cave; eventually you encounter Star Chamber, a small room with a ceiling which is supposed to look very much like the evening sky with a few bits of exposed rock which look like stars. The optical illusion does exist, but seems like a cheap thrill, especially considering the illusion of "stars" was created by cave guides of yesteryear. The story of the doctor treating tuberculosis patients in the caves and the sight of their crumbling simple dwellings, especially by lantern light, was kind of creepy and the most entertaining part of the tour. The Park Ranger was very enthusiastic and tried her best, but the tour itself was kind of bland.

All the tours originate from the Visitor Center and everything is very well-organized. There is no entrance fee to the park, just the price of the tours. Besides the caves, there are also some hiking trails on the surface which take you to overlooks of the Green River, sinkholes, and other parts of the Kentucky countryside which probably look very scenic during the summer(we saw it in early springtime when the trees had not yet bloomed).

When visiting this part of Kentucky, keep in mind it's pretty rural. Dining options are limited to mostly fast food and outside of the caves, most entertainment options are low-fare tourist traps(animal farms and a dinosaur park for kids, for instance). The good news is that prices are pretty low in this part of the country, including hotel accommodations.

8  Thank Panda_Bear_Will
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 August 2014

Beautiful grounds and visitor center. Impressive cave entrance. Gust of cold air on the hottest of days is refreshing when you begin the steps down to the cave. Tours from 1 to 4 hours available, but be sure to order ahead if going on weekend.

2  Thank Jim C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 August 2014

We went on the Historic Tour as well as the Domes and Dripstones Tour. Both were amazing and each offered something different to see. The highlight of the Historic tour is fat man's misery immediately followed by tall man's misery. The Domes and Dripstones tour features the frozen Niagara. Both tours were approximately 2 hours, and the tour guides are very knowledgeable about the cave system. Mammoth Cave is a must for everyone to see!! My only disappointment was that these were the only two tours offered while we were in the area.

1  Thank Married_Couple2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2014

Liked the Historic tour. Quite a few steps though on this 2 mile tour. Did not pre-order tickets and got right in for this tour. Other tours were sold out. Recommend pre-ordering tickets for other tours.

1  Thank N1Reviewer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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