Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mammoth Cave

Since we are here in Kentucky, on Saturday we went over to Mammoth Cave National Park, about 2 hours away. We have been there many times before, the first time on our honeymoon trip across country 40 years ago last week.

We made tour reservations online the day before, and noticed fewer tours being offered, which I thought was strange, this being the peak summer season, but Buddy reminded me of the sequester
"The Park is planning to offer fewer cave tours and fewer choices of tours; high volume tours will have priority and lower volume tours will most likely be cut. About 28,000 people will not be able to visit Mammoth Cave."

The longest cave in the world at 400 miles - they finally got wise and printed the length of the cave on paper posters, since it changes so often due to new exploration.

Back in the 70s we took the Violet City Lantern Tour and saw the mummified native American trapped under a rock, but they have since moved him away from public viewing. A site with some good old photos of the cave HERE.

At one point we took the Echo River tour (no longer offered), where you could go on a boat ride on the underground river.

But right now fewer tours are offered for environmental and budget reasons. Why host a tour with 2 rangers and 40 people when you can take 120 people with the same 2 rangers?  At least the popular hands-on/get dirty/headlamp/coveralls/knee pad tours are still offered: Wild Cave, Trog tour, Introduction to Caving - just get your reservations early.

The Wild Cave Tour, described as: Hand and knee crawling belly crawls as tight as 9" through small cave passages off traditional walking tour routes. Visitors are required to perform several freehold climbs up or down ten-foot cave walls. 6 hours, difficult, $48. Buddy and I did this back PK, then the next generation came along and Carrie and a bunch of her friends took the challenge, then the NEXT generation accomplished it when Carrie took Kyle and Sarah a few years ago. Now Madison can't wait to carry on the family tradition soon (you have to be 16). 

Mammoth Cave National Park - no admission fee, topside lots of camping, hiking, bike trails, picnic areas, amphitheatre campfire ranger programs. Underground 54 degrees year round, take a light jacket, lots of adventures, expect to be amazed!

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