The Rugged Camping Experience
Mammoth Cave National Park’s backcountry boasts 37 square miles of forest and more than 60 miles of trails.
Sure, some campers may enjoy a developed campground, but for those looking for a “rugged” camping experience, Mammoth Cave National Park’s Backcountry Camping is perfect. Hike, paddle, or ride your horse to one of the park’s primitive campsites, riverside flood plains, or river islands, and experience the outdoors!
The park offers thirteen designated backcountry campsites that are accessible only by hiking or horseback. You must be at your site to camp.
Riverside and Island Camping
Overnight camping is permitted along floodplains and on islands along the Green and Nolin Rivers. You CANNOT access this camping from your car. Camping in these areas is only accessible by boat. You must be on the river.
Current River Level and Forecast at the Green River
The National Weather Service in Louisville in coordination with the Ohio River Forecast Center maintains a Daily Forecast for the Green River at Mammoth Cave National Park.
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All camping in the backcountry and along the rivers in Mammoth Cave National Park requires a permit.
Backcountry Camping Permit
Backcountry camping permits are $10.00 and are available for advance or same-day reservations through Recreation.gov or by visiting the Mammoth Cave Campground information kiosk.
During the winter season, visitors must visit the park visitor center for permits.
Riverside and Island Camping Permit
Riverside or Island camping permits are $10.00 per trip. Permits available online, up to a week in advance. Permits are subject to cancelation due to river levels. River levels must remain below 20 feet.
What You Must Provide
When getting your backcountry or riverside camping permit, please be prepared to provide:
Travel in Mammoth Cave National Park’s backcountry has inherent risks such as ticks, snakes, and poison ivy. Campers are responsible for their own safety. Before you set out, make sure you come prepared. Learn more about hiking safety and River Safety and Regulations.
Rules and Regulations
A number of regulations apply when camping within the park. It is the responsibility of all trip participants to know and obey the Camping Regulations that apply to the park’s backcountry.
Explore more topics on backcountry adventure
Take time to learn how you can protect Mammoth Cave's campsites while staying in the park.
Canoeing, Kayaking, and Boating
Plan your trip along the Green and Nolin Rivers.
River Safety and Regulations
Learn ways to ensure your safety while boating in Mammoth Cave National Park.
Explore over 60 miles of trails on the north side of the park.
Those who love to see the world from horseback are in luck! Explore 60 miles of backcountry trails suitable for many skills and ages.
Caves, rivers, and many other places in the park may pose safety concerns. Learn how you can have a safe, memorable experience.
Last updated: October 31, 2023