Mammoth Cave – Mammoth Cave, Kentucky - Atlas Obscura

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave

World's longest known cave. 

Over 400 miles of the Mammoth Cave’s interconnected passages have been surveyed since Native Americans first began to explore it between 2,000 and 8,000 years ago. The world’s longest cave system, Mammoth Cave is 100 miles longer than the planet’s second and third-longest cave systems. 

The National Park offers tours for every taste. For the adventurous, there’s a tour that requires guests to crawl, slither, and scramble their way through five miles of undeveloped passages. Another allows visitors to experience the caves like a true pioneer–by candlelight. Historic tours trace the presence of humans in the cave. One option will take you to an 1840s hospital used to treat consumptive patients, while another will lead you to “Gothic Avenue,” a passage where workers have left their mark by scrawling messages on the cave’s walls and creating makeshift monuments. Beyond these unique offerings, there are also general tours that give guests the opportunity to experience the beauty and ambience of the caves while learning about their history and geology. 

Above ground there are a total of 85 miles of trails. Seven miles of paved trails surround the visitor’s center, with the rest designated for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Stunning natural features are plentiful along the trails, including sinkholes, waterfalls, bluffs, and overlooks.  

Know Before You Go

Cave tour tickets can be purchased in advance on the National Park website. Off season, this is not necessary, but during the summer months it is a good precaution. Tours frequently sell out during peak periods. From the North: Take Interstate 65 to Exit 53 (Cave City Exit). Turn right onto KY-70. Follow 70/255 as it becomes the Mammoth Cave Parkway in the park. Follow the Mammoth Cave Parkway to the Visitor Center.From the South: Take Interstate 65 to Exit 48 (Park City Exit). Turn left onto KY-255 and follow 255 as it becomes the Park City Road into the park. Follow Park City Road until it joins the Mammoth Cave Parkway; turn left. Follow the Mammoth Cave Parkway to the Visitor Center. GPS isn't always reliable in the area. 

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