• The Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave

    Mammoth Cave

    National Park Kentucky

Natural Features & Ecosystems

Nature and Science

The interface between the sunlit and nether worlds

Mammoth Cave, by far the world's longest known cave system, is the heart of the South-Central Kentucky karst, an integrated set of subterranean drainage basins covering more than 1,050 square kilometers – 400 square miles. Atop this labyrinth is a biologically diverse set of ecosystems inextricably interlinked with the ecosystems underground. This physiographic province, with Mammoth Cave National Park at its core, was declared an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990.

Did You Know?

Tuberculosis Hut in Mammoth Cave

In 1841, cave owner Dr. John Croghan believed the cave air might cure his patients suffering from tuberculosis. He brought 16 patients into Mammoth Cave that winter and housed them in stone and wood huts. After some perished, they left the cave, for of course the cave air offered no cure.