• The Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave

    Mammoth Cave

    National Park Kentucky

Spring 2014

Spring view from the Green River Bluffs Trail

Spring view from the Green River Bluffs Trail.

Photo from B. Carson files

Spring is a beautiful time of year at Mammoth Cave National Park. The forest is bursting with color, wildlife is becoming more active and the cave continues its powerful pull in luring people to explore beneath the woodland. We would love for you to join us!

Our spring schedule runs from March 15 - June 13, 2014.

The Visitor Center hours are 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 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.

During the months of March, April and May the park is a very popular destination for school trips and other parties. As a result, your tour may include other group(s) of various ages.

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 spring. 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.

 

MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK ACTIVITIES SCHEDULE

MARCH 15 - MAY 23, 2014

 
Cave Activity Departures
Frozen Niagara Tour 9:15, 11:45, 4:15
Historic Tour 9:00, 10:00, 12:00, 1:45, (2:15 Fri & Sat), 3:15
Domes & Dripstones Tour (Formerly known as the New Entrance Tour) 9:30, 10:00, 11:15, 12:15, 12:45, 1:30, 2:00, 2:45, 3:45
Gothic Avenue Tour 10:45
Violet City Lantern Tour 2:30
Star Chamber Tour 5:30 (Fri & Sat)
Trog 9:00 (Sat & Sun)
Introduction to Caving 12:45 (Sat & Sun)
Wild Cave Tour 9:30 (Sat & Sun)
Surface Walks & Programs-Free! Departures
Cedar Sink Hike 8:30
Heritage Trail Walk

9:15
Visitor Center Hours 8:00a.m. - 6:00p.m. Central Time

Coming Memorial Day Weekend? Click here for activity schedule


 

MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK CAVE ACTIVITIES

 
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 Domes and Dripstones, New Entrance, 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: $10 Adults, $8 Youth, $5 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:15, 11:45, 4:15
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 Avenue 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: 9:00, 10:00, 12:00, 1:45, (2:15 Fri. & Sat.), 3:15
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
The Drapery Room on the New Entrance Tour

The Drapery Room on the Domes and Dripstones Tour.

Domes and Dripstones Tour
(Formerly known as 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 numerous dripstone formations.

This tour includes the entire Frozen Niagara 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: $12 Adults, $8 Youth, $6 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:30, 10:00, 11:15, 12:15, 12:45, 1:30, 2:00, 2:45, 3:45
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: 10:45
Want to make a reservation? Click here

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

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

Violet City Lantern Tour
Travel exclusively by lantern light as guides recreate a nostalgic experience of days gone by. The flickering flame and rugged trails make it seem as if time stands still in the cave. Experience the cave the way early visitors did as you navigate steep hills and uneven terrain through some of the largest and oldest toured passageways. Relive the stories, behold the illusions and experience the cave's primitive nature that only this rustic walking tour can afford!

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. Be prepared, the rugged nature of this tour possesses steep hills, low lighting, uneven terrain and no handrail or electric lighting infrastructure. To preserve the nostalgic nature of this tour, the use of flashlights are prohibited.

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: $15 Adults, $11 Youth, $7.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 2:30
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 our overnight 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: 1 1/2 miles
Total Stairs: 200
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 40
Price: $12 Adults, $8 Youth, $6 Special Access
Tour Times: 5:30 Fri. & Sat.
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
A Trog Tour exiting the Historic Entrance to Mammoth Cave

A Trog Tour exiting the Historic Entrance at Mammoth Cave.

Trog Tour
A kids only off-trail adventure! Hike through the forest to the Historic Entrance and find out how the surface and subsurface are connected. Put on your hard hat and headlamp (provided) as you travel off-trail. Unlock the secrets of how the animals of Mammoth Cave survive in the deep dark as you hike, crawl and belly-slide through rarely visited passages.

In order to minimize the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that has resulted in the death of over one million bats in the eastern United States, Mammoth Cave National Park has instituted stringent disinfection procedures for all off-trail spelunking tours. All equipment (coveralls, helmets, knee pads and head lamps) are 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.

Parents, guardians and/or chaperones must attend the first 30 minutes of the tour to assist when children "suit up" with their equipment and must pick up children promptly at the end of the tour to assist with White Nose Syndrome shoe cleaning protocol. Sturdy, athletic style, closed toe shoes required. Please bring extra pair of tennis shoes or sandals for use during shoe cleaning at the end of the tour. Requires at least 2 participants. Meets at the hotel dorms near the tennis courts.

Age Limit: Children ages 8 - 12
Duration: 2 3/4 hours
Distance: 1 1/2 miles
Total Stairs: 200
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 12
Price: $14
Tour Times: 9:00 Sat. & Sun.
Want to make a reservation? Click here

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

Caver 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 over one million bats in the eastern United States, Mammoth Cave National Park has instituted stringent disinfection 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 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: $23 Adults, $18 Youth, $11.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 12:45 Sat. & Sun.
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
An appropriate pair 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 over one million bats in the eastern United States, Mammoth Cave National Park has instituted stringent disinfection 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. Visitors will need to bring a lunch and/or water bottle. 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: $48
Tour Times: 9:30 Sat. & Sun.
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 

MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK SURFACE ACTIVITES
Free of charge

 
Karst window spring at Cedar Sink

Karst window spring at Cedar Sink.

Cedar Sink Hike
The hike into Cedar Sink follows a loop trail from the top of Joppa Ridge down to a cave "window" where flowing underground water briefly emerges at the surface only to dive below back into the cave system on the other side of Cedar Sink. Local wildflowers may be viewed on the way as the group discusses the rock, water and microclimates that produce so much spring beauty and sculpted the land used by the people who once lived on the land that today is Mammoth Cave National Park.

Duration: 1 1/2 hours
Distance: 1.6 miles
Stairs: 300
Difficulty: Moderate
Trip Times: 8:30
Meets at the Cedar Sink Trailhead

 
Headstone of Stephen Bishop in the Old Guide's Cemetery along the Heritage Trail.

Headstone of Stephen Bishop in the Old Guide's Cemetery along the Heritage Trail.

Heritage Walk
(Handicap Accessible)
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: 45 minutes
Distance: 3/4 mile
Difficulty: Easy - handicap accessible
Trip Times: 9:15

Did You Know?

Canoes on Green River

The Green and Nolin Rivers course more than 30 miles through Mammoth Cave National Park, offering hours of boating, canoeing, fishing, and floodplain camping.