Mammoth Cave National Park

By Abbey Tiderman 05.27.2015 interact

While you won’t find the tusks, fossils or footprints of any prehistoric woolly giants at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, will you settle for eyeless fish? How about exploring the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles of passages and grand chambers formed as early as 10 million years ago? That certainly works for the 2 million people who visit the park every year. It’s thought that the cave had its first human visitors about 4,000 years ago, but it wasn’t until 1816 that formal tours began (often conducted by slaves). Over a century later, in 1941, Mammoth Cave gained its official National Park status.

Why did this particular cave warrant federal preservation? Aside from the astonishing cave of course, the habitat diversity and ecosystem interconnectivity in this one location is unique. From its dark rocky ledges and open meadows to wooded trails and winding waters of the Green River, Mammoth Cave National Park is the vital home to 1,500 flowering species and 200 species of animals including reptiles, fish, mussels, crustaceans, insects, birds and mammals, dozens of which are endangered or threatened.

Bats, for example, are in serious danger of being wiped out by a deadly fungus called White-nose syndrome. Over 5 million bats have died from the disease so far, and since the species is so essential for pollination and insect control, scientists and staff at Mammoth Cave National Park are dedicated to combating the monumental problem, including prohibiting visitors from wearing anything that may have previously been worn in another fungus-affected mine or cave. Because the fungus attacks bats while they’re hibernating in caves, it’s important to stop the spread to other areas.

Not the dark tunnel-type? No worries. Mammoth Cave National Park is also the perfect place for sun-lit surface activities like horseback riding, picnicking, hiking, boating and fishing.

Start exploring this fascinating place with our slideshow below.

Here a tour group visits the main rotunda, surrounded by thousands of tons of ancient rock.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

This part of the cave is called the "Ruins of Karnak." The columns were formed in the limestone by constant trickles of water wearing away over time.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

Parts of the cave have been used for various activities, including mining. These wooden pipes were once used as part of a saltpetre mine.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

This part of the park, known as "Mammoth Dome," connects the lower cave trail with the the upper part of the cave. It was very difficult to construct, as it's hard to get building materials into the cave.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

This part of the cave is known as Broadway. It's the main cave chamber.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

The surface of Mammoth Cave National Park is just as beautiful as the caves below. Many types of flowers bloom there, like these rue anemone and blue phlox.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

The Echo River Spring is part of an underground river that flows through Mammoth Cave.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

In the winter, Mammoth Cave can get a lot of snow. Here, it blankets the area surrounding the Cedar Sink stream.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

The Green River also passes through the park. Visitors can fish, canoe, and kayak in the clear water.


Photo Credit: Public Domain via NPS

comments

  1. robert

    hi i cant afford this trip but it looks fun and exciting I’ve
    never gone fishing before so i think it would be fun

  2. Mark

    I like this cave

  3. mony

    hi

    • sanyia perez

      haay

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