Our next stop is Cave City, KY and a tour of Mammoth Cave. Bob and I have seen many caves, but have never been to Kentucky to see the world’s longest known cave, Mammoth, now a National Park.
After reviewing all our options, we decide the Grand Avenue Tour, consisting of 4 miles, 670 stairs, and which encompasses most of the other tours being offered, is our best option.
We board the tour bus which takes us to an entrance, although not the natural entrance. We walked to that after the tour.
Mammoth Cave is the most extensive cave system known, with more than 350 miles of surveyed passageways, and geologists estimate there may be as many as 600 miles of passageways yet undiscovered.
Prehistoric people 4,000 years ago knew and used this cave. Like most caves, water and sandstone are the key ingredients. The Green River is the predominate water source.
The massive size of Mammoth Cave is partially attributed to the vast number of sink holes in this part of Kentucky.
In 1926, Mammoth Cave was authorized as a national park and was named a World Heritage Site in 1981.
In 1990, Mammoth Cave National Park becomes the core area of an International Biosphere Reserve.
Mammoth Cave is today a dry cave, with very little decoration. We stopped for lunch about an hour and half into our tour. Note the “snow Balls” on the ceiling of the dining room. This is the first decoration we see. The vast majority of the cave is gypsum covered walls.
Since the cave was extensively used throughout history, we saw a fair amount of graffiti. Back in the 1790s, saltpeter, a key ingredient in the manufacture of gunpowder, was mined in the cave.
Many white tailed deer & turkeys live in the area. We actually got a picture of one turkey (he wasn’t in the mood to pose) but passed taking pictures of the deer. See the web album!
Finally, during the last twenty minutes or so of our tour, we come to the decorated area. Because the decorations are very long, they refer to this as the Frozen Niagara. At a certain angle, it does remind you of a frozen waterfall.
Here, all the cameras come out. The NPS is very strict as to what you are allowed to take on these tours. No pack packs, camera bags, handbags, diaper bags, etc. Only a bottle of water & camera are allowed.
Most of the Frozen Niagara consists of flow stone. There are a few stalactites. The colors, however, are very pretty.
Soon we come to the end of our tour and find the bus waiting for us at yet a different entrance. It takes about 12 minutes by bus to get back to the visitor center.
Bob and I take a walk through the visitor center, out the back, and follow this lovely path to the cave’s natural entrance. It was a great experience, and Bob & I are happy we took the tour. (PS: We didn't see any bats!)
For further information: Mammoth Cave National Park
You're getting very close to seeing the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green - Straight ahead!