Mammoth Cave National Park In Kentucky
Brief description of the names, durations, lenghts, and highlights of various cave tours available at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
Mammoth Cave National Park is one of Kentucky's most popular tourist attractions.
There is never a bad time to visit Mammoth Cave since the underground temperature is fairly consistent year round and stays between 55 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Even after a rain shower the cave takes on new life when the water trickles in through many of the surface runoffs. Mammoth Cave offers a variety of cave tours throughout the year that are guided by park rangers. Please note that tours and times are subject to change and may be seasonal.
If you are planning to take a cave tour while at Mammoth Cave National Park, it is strongly recommended that you make your reservations in advance by calling the reservation line at 1-800-967-2283. These tours have a tendency to book up quickly. The local time zone for Mammoth Cave is Central Standard Time. Cave tours are offered every day except Christmas Day and tickets must be picked up at the visitor center at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. Any reservation cancellations or unsold tickets may also be available at the Visitor Center shortly before the scheduled departure time as well. All tours begin and end at the Visitor Center.
The Historic Tour is two hours long and is a 2-mile strenuous tour. On this tour visitors may view artifacts left by Native Americans, discover mining operation ruins, and see evidence of early explorers. Visitors must descend and climb over 130 stairs on a steel tower. Not recommended for people with a fear of heights or closed in spaces. This tour is limited to 120 people.
The Frozen Niagara Tour is two hours long and is a strenuous three quarter mile tour. Visitors ride a bus to the entrance and are able to view huge pits, domes, decorative dripstone formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. Highlights include Crystal Lake, Onyx Colonnade, Onyx Chamber and Frozen Niagara. Visitors must descend about 300 steps and walk along steep terrain. Not recommended for people with a fear of heights or closed in spaces or who cannot climb steps. This tour is limited to 120 people.
The Discovery Tour is a half an hour long and a moderate three quarter mile tour. Visitors explore a large canyon passage, visit one of the largest rooms in the cave, learn about 19th Century saltpeter mining operations, and learn about the geologic origins of Mammoth Cave. Visitors must be able to climb and descend a stairway with over 60 steps. This tour is designed for people who cannot participate in longer tours and is only offered when visitation warrants.
The Travertine Tour is an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes and is an easy quarter mile tour. Visitors ride a bus to the Frozen Niagara entrance and view some of the cave's geologic artistry including stalactites and stalagmites. They must be able to climb a minimum of 18 steps with an additional 98 steps being optional. This tour is designed for people with difficulty walking and for people with infants or small children. The tour capacity is 40 people.
The Violet City Lantern Tour lasts three hours and is a strenuous three-mile tour. The first half-mile follows the route of the Historic Tour. Visitors follow the path of famous explorers on a nostalgic tour by the light of coal-oil lanterns. No flashlights are allowed. They view the site of former saltpeter mining operations, evidence of prehistoric exploration, ruins of a tuberculosis hospital and some of the largest rooms and passageways in the cave. This tour is limited to 60 people.
The Grand Avenue Tour is four and a half hours long. It is a very strenuous 4-mile route. This tour overlaps portions of the Frozen Niagara and Travertine Tours. Visitors hike through avenues that represent four separate aspects of cave formation. The trip begins with a bus ride to Carmichael Entrance. This tour is not recommended for people with physical limitations since there are over 500 stairs to climb and steep switchback trails. There is a scheduled 35-minute lunch break at the Snowball Room and food may be purchased. Rest rooms are also available. Children must be at least 6 years old to take this tour. The tour is limited to 120 people.
The Wild Cave Tour is an extremely strenuous 5 and a half-mile tour that lasts from six to six and a half hours. Participants must be 16 years or older and may be asked for identification to show proof of age. They must also have a chest size of no more than 42 inches in order to fit through the tight spaces. Visitors climb, crawl and squeeze through passages and are provided with helmets and lights. Kneepads are also available or you may bring your own. Hard plastic or roller blade type kneepads are not allowed. High-top shoes or boots that cover the ankles and have lug or deeply treaded soles are required. Long pants and gloves are recommended as well. Visitors should bring a lunch and small water bottle in a small pack. Rest rooms are available. This tour is limited to 14 people and tickets held at the "Will Call" desk must be picked up 30 minutes prior to departure or they will be released for resale.
The Introduction to Caving Tour is designed for youth, adults, and families to learn and explore the basic responsibilities of caving. Helmets with lights are provided and there is a lot of stooping, bending, and crawling through cave passages. Visitors may bring their own kneepads however, hard plastic or roller blade type kneepads are not allowed. High-top shoes or boots that cover the ankles and have lug or deeply treaded soles are required. Long pants and gloves are recommended as well. Youths must be at least 10 years old and an adult must accompany anyone under 16. This tour is limited to 20 people and tickets held at the "Will Call" desk must be picked up 30 minutes prior to departure or they will be released for resale.
The Making of Mammoth Tour is a strenuous two and a half mile tour that last about two and a half hours. Two miles of the passageway on this tour overlaps the Historic Tour's route. This tour is not recommended for people who have a fear of heights or closed in spaces. Visitors must climb and descend a steel tower that has over 130 steps. The tour will examine the cave's ancient origins that date back 325 million years and look at the way the cave formations are still ongoing even today. The tour is limited to 60 people.
The Mobility Impaired Tour is designed for physically impaired visitors who are unable to participate in other cave tours. They will ride in a van to the elevator entrance, descend into the cave, and see tubular passages with delicately encrusted gypsum walls. The tour is an easy one-mile route that lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes. Two wheelchairs are available for use. The rest rooms however are not wheelchair accessible. This tour is limited to 9 people. Special tours are also available for those who have hearing and/or speech impairments. On these tours the guides use sign language to enhance the enjoyment and understanding of the tour.
If you are not sure which tour is right for you or which ones are being offered when you are planning your visit, you may call the information line at 1-800-346-8908. This line is available seven days a week and provides information regarding tours at Mammoth Cave National Park and some other exciting cave adventures in the Mammoth Cave area.