• The Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave

    Mammoth Cave

    National Park Kentucky

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Fall 2014

Fall view from the Green River Bluffs Trail

Fall view from the Green River Bluffs Trail.

Photo from B. Carson files

The busy days of summer are soon forgotten as the park slips into fall. The thick green woodland transitions into a landscape of beautiful autumn colors. Radiant reds, gushing golds, pretty purples and amazing oranges blanket the tree canopy. Hikers can enjoy the vibrant nature trails. Canoeists can lazily drift down the Green River in a corridor of color. The underground world of the park also changes as a variety of specialty tours access parts of the cave with fewer numbers. Whether above or below ground, the fall is a wonderful time to visit Mammoth Cave National Park. Feel free to come and join us and experience your America!

Our fall schedule runs August 18 - August 29 & September 2 - November 2, 2014. The Visitor Center hours are 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m. Central Time.

Reservations are not required, but are strongly recommended to ensure a spot on cave tours. Reservations cannot be made the same day of the tour. Adult ticket prices are for individuals 13 and up. Youth ticket prices are for visitors age 6 - 12. Unless otherwise noted, all visitors under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult age 18 or over.

Unless otherwise noted, flash photography is not permitted on cave tours.

Below you will find our full selection of tour times and descriptions offered this fall. Feel free to read each one, decide which is best for you and tailor-make your own opportunity to experience the wonders of Mammoth Cave National Park.

 
Cave Activity Departures
Mammoth Passage Tour 3:30
Frozen Niagara Tour 9:00, 1:00, (2:30 Fri./Sat.), 3:30
Historic Tour 10:00, 12:15, 2:15, 3:00
Domes & Dripstones Tour (formerly the New Entrance Tour) 9:30, 11:30, 12:45, (2:00 Sat./Sun.), 3:00
Violet City Lantern Tour 9:30
Great Onyx Lantern Tour 1:30
River Styx Tour 10:45 Sat./Sun.
Gothic Avenue Tour 9:00 Saturday
Star Chamber Tour 5:00 p.m.
Introduction to Caving Tour 1:15 Saturday
Wild Cave Tour 9:00 Sat./Sun.
Surface Walks & Programs - Free of Charge! Departures
Heritage Walk 9:30, (12:45 Fri./Sat.)
Campfire Program 7:00 p.m. Fri./Sat.

If you would like to view a map of the cave where tours travel please click below:

Mammoth Cave Tour Routes Map

 
Ranger with visitors at leeching vat.

Ranger with visitors at leeching vat.

Mammoth Passage Tour
Follow your guide to the Historic Entrance where the cave was first discovered more than 5,000 years ago. Entering the cave, imagine early visitors as they walked through these "Mammoth Passages". Visit one of the largest rooms in the cave and see remains of an early saltpeter mining operation.

Includes parts of the Historic and all of the Discovery Tour routes. Not available by reservation.

Duration: 1 1/4 hours
Distance: 3/4 mile
Total Stairs: 160
Difficulty: Easy
Tour Capacity: 40
Price: $5 Adults, $3.50 Youth, $2.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 3:30

 
The Frozen Niagara Formation.

The Frozen Niagara Formation.

Frozen Niagara Tour
Often the perfect taste of Mammoth Cave for visitors with very small children, elderly family members, or others who cannot walk long distances. Not sure you like close spaces? Have trouble walking or managing long staircases? This short visit through this very heavily decorated part of Mammoth Cave might be best for you.

This section of cave is seen in its entirety on the New Entrance, Grand Avenue, Introduction to Caving and Wild Cave Tours.

Duration: 1 1/4 hours
Distance: 1/4 mile
Total Stairs: 12, plus an optional 98
Difficulty: Easy
Tour Capacity: 39
Price: $12 Adults, $9 Youth, $6 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:00, 1:00, (2:30 Fri./Sat.), 3:30
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
View of Broadway on the Historic Tour.

View of Broadway on the Historic Tour.

Historic Tour
Been in other more decorative caves, but never in Mammoth Cave? This journey through the natural entrance leads to "classic" Mammoth Cave landmarks visited by writers, scientists, military figures and celebrities of the 1800s and early 1900s. A great family trip!

Portions of this tour are also seen on the Violet City Lantern, Star Chamber and Gothic Tours. It is seen in its entirety on the River Styx Tour.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 2 miles
Total Stairs: 440, including 155 at Mammoth Dome
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 120
Price: $12 Adults, $8 Youth, $6 Special Access, $5 Educational Rate
Tour Times: 10:00, 12:15, 2:15, 3:00
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
The Drapery Room on the Domes & Dripstones Tour.

The Drapery Room on the Domes & Dripstones Tour.

Domes & Dripstones Tour (formerly the New Entrance Tour)
A wonderful complement to the Historic Tour, this trip includes a dramatic series of domes and pits, typical large trunk passageways, and a short journey through dripstone formations.

This tour includes the entire Frozen Niagara Tour route and a small portion of the Grand Avenue Tour route.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 3/4 mile
Total Stairs: 500, including 280 on the initial staircase descent
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 118
Price: $14 Adults, $9 Youth, $7 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:30, 11:30, 12:45, (2:00 Sat./Sun.), 3:00
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
Hundreds of signatures are left from the 1800s in Register Hall in Gothic Avenue.

Hundreds of signatures are left from the 1800s in Register Hall in Gothic Avenue.

Gothic Avenue Tour
Some areas of Mammoth Cave just seem magical, and Gothic Avenue is one of those special places. This tour begins at the Visitor Center and enters the famous Historic Entrance and passes through the Rotunda and the Church. The tour enters Gothic Avenue, one of the most historically significant passageways in the cave. This area showcases hundreds of examples of visitor experiences still visible today, from the multitude of nineteenth-century candle-written signatures to the dozens and dozens of stone monuments left behind by visitors nearly 200 years ago.

Portions of this tour are also seen on the Star Chamber, Historic and Violet City Lantern Tours.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 1 miles
Total Stairs: 230
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 40
Price: $11 Adults, $8 Youth, $5.50 Special Access
Tour Time: 9:00 Saturday
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
Remains of a 19th century tuberculosis hut on the Violet City Lantern Tour.

Remains of a 19th century tuberculosis hut on the Violet City Lantern Tour.

Violet City Lantern Tour
A nostalgic trip through classic Mammoth Cave by lantern light. Walk through some of the largest passages in the cave by lantern light as guides recreate the experience of the first visitors in the 1800's. Become part of the tradition of visiting one of the oldest tourist attractions in the country. Relive the stories and illusions expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson and others of the day. See evidence of saltpeter production, an underground hospital and prehistoric mining of cave minerals.

Portions of this tour are also seen on the Historic, River Styx and Mammoth Passage Tours. Only visitors age 16 and over may carry lanterns. The use of flashlights is prohibited for this special tour.

Age Limit: 6 and over
Duration: 3 hours
Distance: 3 miles
Total Stairs: 160 and numerous hills with no hand rails
Difficulty: Strenuous
Tour Capacity: 38
Price: $17 Adults, $12 Youth, $8.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:30
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
Nativity formation in Great Onyx Cave.

The Nativity Formation in Great Onyx Cave.

Great Onyx Lantern Tour

Learn the legends and rumors of early community life as you travel by bus to Great Onyx Cave, a privately owned and operated cave until the 1960's. Discover how Great Onyx survived the Cave Wars and emerged as one of the most pristine show caves in the region. Exploring this geologic beauty by lantern light offers a different perspective to the multitudes of dripstone, gypsum, and helictite formations. Encounter evidence of cave life from past and present.

Special Notice: This cave is toured within Mammoth Cave National Park, but is not known to connect with the Mammoth Cave System.


Age Limit: 6 and over
Duration: 2¼ hours
Distance: 1 mile
Total Stairs: 40
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 38
Price: $15 Adults, $11 Youth, $7.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 1:30
Want to make a reservation? Click here


 
River level cave passage.

River level cave passage.

R. Klass

River Styx Cave Tour
Trace the stages of cave development from solid layers of limestone into the world’s longest known cave system. Follow the course of the water from ridge top to river bottom and witness the persistence and power required to create this geologic marvel. Experience some of the largest continuous canyon passages on the planet, smooth elliptical tubes and beautifully sculpted shafts. Working your way to the cave’s lowest level you’ll be able to peer into the cold river water that still hollows out the limestone and lengthens the cave system. Understand the processes of both the surface and subsurface and realize how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together to make the story of the world’s longest cave unfold before your eyes.

This tour includes the entire Historic Tour route and portions of the Mammoth Passage, Star Chamber and Gothic Tours.

Duration:
2½ hours
Distance: 2½ miles
Total Stairs: Approximately 475, including 155 at Mammoth Dome
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 40
Price: $13 Adults, $9 Youth, $6.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 10:45 Sat./Sun.
Want to make a reservation? Click here
 
Star Chamber.

Star Chamber.

J.L. Wheet

Star Chamber
Take an evening journey into Mammoth Cave and experience the cave by lantern light. Learn of the early travels of both guides and visitors in the 1800s. Hear the stories of tuberculosis patients who sought for a cure inside the cave. View numerous rock monuments and signatures left by visitors who sought memorable experiences in Mammoth Cave over a hundred years ago. A great tour for summer campers!

Portions of this tour are also seen on the Historic, River Styx and Gothic Avenue Tours. Only visitors age 16 and over may carry lanterns. To preserve the nostalgic atmosphere of the activity, there is no flashlight use permitted on this tour.


Age Limit: Age 6 and over
Duration: 2 1/2 hours
Distance: 2 miles
Total Stairs: 200
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 40
Price: $12 Adults, $8 Youth, $6 Special Access
Tour Times: 5:00 p.m.
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
Caver crawling in passage like those on the Introduction to Caving Tour.

Cave crawling in passage like those on the Introduction to Caving Tour.

Introduction to Caving Tour
Want to really go caving? Not sure if spelunking is for you? Try this short, small group caving challenge to discover things about the cave and yourself. Experience off trail adventures wearing traditional caving gear. Learn how cavers work together as a team as they travel over uneven terrain, crawl through tight holes and climb up rocky slopes. Bring your friends or family for an action packed activity!

In order to minimize the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that has resulted in the death of millions of bats in the eastern United States, Mammoth Cave National Park has instituted stringent cleaning procedures for all off-trail spelunking tours this summer. All equipment and outerwear including gloves will be provided by the park. Visitors must provide their own boots. No personal caving equipment allowed. No Exceptions. Shorts and t-shirt recommended for wear under required coveralls.

An adult must accompany visitors under age 18. Organized youth groups must have at least two adult representatives accompanying minor children. Chest or hip measurement must not exceed 42 inches; if you are larger you may not physically pass through the crawl spaces. Lace-up hiking boots that cover the ankle are required. Boots must have good tread. No slick-soled footwear is permitted. No tennis shoes allowed. You will not be allowed to participate in the tour if you are not wearing proper footwear - no exceptions. Please bring an extra pair of tennis shoes or sandals for use during boot cleaning at the end of the tour. Requires at least 2 participants.

Age Limit: 10 and over
Duration: 3 1/2 hours
Distance: 1 mile
Total Stairs: 280+
Difficulty: Strenuous
Tour Capacity: 20
Price: $25 Adults, $19 Youth, $12.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 1:15 Saturdays Only
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
An appropriate pair of boots for the Wild Cave Tour.

A recommended pair of boots for the Wild Cave Tour.

Wild Cave Tour
Face the darkness - and the challenge. Journey with experienced guides and a small adult group through some of the starkly beautiful yet physically demanding "wild" areas of the cave. Climb, crawl, squeeze, hike and canyon walk in the realms of Mammoth Cave. See places no other tour encounters and feel the thrill of exploration!

In order to minimize the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that has resulted in the death of millions of bats in the eastern United States, Mammoth Cave National Park has instituted stringent cleaning procedures for all off-trail spelunking tours this summer. All equipment and outerwear including gloves will be provided by the park. Visitors must provide their own boots. No personal caving equipment allowed. No Exceptions. Shorts and t-shirt recommended for wear under required coveralls.

An adult must accompany visitors under age 18. Organized youth groups must have at least two adult representatives accompanying minor children. Chest or hip measurement must not exceed 42 inches; if you are larger you may not physically pass through the crawlspaces. Lace-up hiking boots that cover the ankle are required. Boots must have good tread. No slick-soled footwear is permitted. No tennis shoes allowed. You will not be allowed to participate in the tour if you are not wearing proper footwear - no exceptions. Please bring an extra pair of tennis shoes or sandals for use during boot cleaning at the end of the tour. There will be no food service in the Snowball Room. Visitors will need to bring their own lunch or snacks. A small fannypack is provided. Requires at least 2 participants.

Age Limit: 16 and over
Duration: 6 hours
Distance: 5 miles
Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous
Tour Capacity: 14
Price: $50
Tour Times: 9:00 Saturday/Sunday
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 

MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK SURFACE ACTIVITIES
Free of charge

 
Headstone of Stephen Bishop.

Headstone of Stephen Bishop.

Heritage Walk
This easy walk uses the 3/4 mile Heritage Trail, adjacent to the Mammoth Cave Hotel. The ranger shares stories of the old Mammoth Cave Estate and how the surface above helped shaped the stories below. Includes a walk to the Old Guides Cemetery where former enslaved cave guide Stephen Bishop now rests.

Duration: 1 hour
Distance: 3/4 mile
Difficulty: Easy - handicap accessible
Trip Times: 9:30, (12:45 Fri./Sat.)

 
Amphitheater sign.

Amphitheater sign.

Campfire Program
Join a park ranger for a special program at the wheelchair accessible Park Amphitheater. Programs generally begin just before dark and interpret a different topic each evening. Check at the Visitor Center information desk to learn more about available evening amphitheater programming topics.

Duration: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Easy - handicap accessible
Campfire Program Times: 7:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday


Did You Know?

Did You Know? - Mammoth Cave National Park has more than 70 miles of backcountry trails.

Mammoth Cave National Park contains more than 70 miles of backcountry trails through forested Kentucky hills for hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclists. Several frontcountry trails lead to special places like Cedar Sink, Sand Cave, and Turnhole Bend.