Cave Tours

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A tour group gathers in the cave on a lantern tour
A tour group gathers in Star Chamber on the Violet City Lantern Tour.

NPS Photo/ Tegan Sorensen

Getting Started

A journey into Mammoth Cave on a guided cave tour is an essential part of a visit to the park. Whether it is your first time to the park or your tenth, there are several things to consider when planning your trip.

  • To go into the cave, you must purchase a tour ticket.

  • Reservations for cave tour tickets are strongly recommended as they can sell out weeks in advance.

  • There are many different cave tours to choose from. From a fully wheelchair accessible tour, short and long walking tours, lantern tours, and adventurous crawling tours. Some cave tours require a short bus ride to and from the cave entrance. Be sure to fully read the tour descriptions before purchasing your tour tickets.

 

Know Before You Go

To ensure the safety of all visitors and the continued protection of Mammoth Cave the following items are not permitted on cave tours:

  • Flash photography (photography is allowed if the flash is turned off)
  • Child backpack carriers (front packs are permitted)
  • Strollers,Tripods/Monopods, Walking sticks
  • Metal framed backpacks and backpacks that are higher than the shoulder or that are of a length that extends below the hips (i.e. large trekking backpacks)
  • Firearms or other weapons
  • Pets (Day use kennels at the Lodge at Mammoth Cave are available for rent. Proof of vaccination must be provided upon entering the kennel. Learn more about pets in the park.)

During the spring and fall seasons 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.

You may wish to bring a light jacket during your tour. Cave temperatures can vary widely near entrances (especially in winter), deep cave temperature is 54ºF (12ºC) while surface temperatures in the summer can exceed 90ºF (32ºC).

Visitors with limited mobility may find some cave tours too strenuous. Please review cave tour descriptions and consider your limitations when choosing which tour to participate on.

For members of the deaf and hard of hearing community, assisted listening devices and sign language interpreter services are available with advanced arrangements.

The park is committed to providing accessible options for all visitors. Learn more about accessibility in the park.

When traveling to the park for a cave tour, plan for adequate travel time to the visitor center to arrive around 30 minutes before the start of your scheduled tour. This will allow for time to find parking, pick up your physical paper tour tickets and time to use the restroom.

Do not rely on your mobile GPS or web based mapping applications. These services often lead visitors off track onto routes requiring river crossings via ferry or onto narrow winding roads not suitable for large vehicles. More information about travel directions to the park are available.

 
 

Tour Schedule

Tour route availability and times change depending on the season. Before arriving at the park or trying to reserve tickets for a tour, please review the tour schedule for the dates of your trip. The park may not publish the complete schedule or variety of tours until 1 to 3 months prior to tour date. Read more about tour descriptions at the bottom of this page.

 
 

Tour

Departure Time

Historic

10:30

Domes and Dripstones

1:30

Frozen Niagara

9:00, 12:30, 3:00

Mammoth Passage
(Tickets only Sold in-person, the day of the tour.)

11:00, 2:30

Gothic Avenue

9:30


Cave tours and the visitor center will be closed on December 25, 2021.

Tour

Departure Time

Historic

10:30, 12:45, 2:00 (Daily)
11:30 (Saturday / Sunday Only)

Domes and Dripstones

9:45, 11:00, 1:30 (Daily)
2:15 (Saturday / Sunday Only)

Frozen Niagara

9:00, 12:30, 3:00

Mammoth Passage
(Tickets only sold in-person, the day of the tour.)

2:30 (Daily)
9:00, 10:00, 12:00, 3:00 (Saturday / Sunday Only)

Accessible

11:30

Gothic Avenue

9:30

Cleaveland Avenue

2:00 (Saturday / Sunday Only)

Grand Avenue

10:15 (Saturday / Sunday Only)

 

Tour Reservations

Cave tours often sell out during the summer and early fall seasons, and reservations are strongly recommended. Reservations are the only way to ensure a spot on a tour is available for your party. Please plan accordingly by visiting Recreation.gov or calling 877-444-6777 to secure your tickets in advance. Availability of walk-up tickets is not guaranteed.

 
 

By Phone: (877) 444-6777
TDD (hearing impaired): (877) 833-6777
Online: www.recreation.gov
Call Center Hours: 9:00 am - 9:00 pm Central Time

All changes of tour reservation will be considered a cancellation and charged $1.00 per ticket. Cancellations made fewer than 24 hours in advance of the tour will not receive a refund.

For Wild Cave, Introduction to Caving, and Trog tours:

  • Cancellations made 10 or more days prior to the Tour Date will be no charge.
  • Cancellation made 10 days or less prior to the Tour Date will be charged the following amount per ticket:
    • Wild Cave Tour: $12.00
    • Introduction to Caving Tour: $6.00
    • Trog Tour: $4.00
 

Descriptions of Currently Offered Cave Tours

 

Utilizing the Elevator Entrance, this tour emerges near the famous Snowball Room. Continuing through historic Cleaveland Avenue, this tour passes through areas of the cave highly decorated with historic signatures and sparkling geological formations. This tour is ideal for people who wish to see the cave and are looking for a tour with no stairs.

This is an accessible tour. This tour is designed for persons with a disability, limited physical mobility, or any other reason for a tour with no stairs. If no one in your party needs an accessible tour, please consider selecting another tour unless this is the only tour available at the time of your request. Wheelchairs, scooters and other assistive devices are allowed. Accessible restrooms are on this tour.  

Participants meet at the visitor center for a caravan in their personal vehicles to drive approximately 2 miles to the elevator entrance. Assistive devices will need to be decontaminated upon exiting the cave to limit the spread of White Nose Syndrome.

Please note that no transportation or mobility assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers or canes are available. NPS employees will not transport or assist visitors or visitor equipment. If visitors need assistance with the Park's accessible features, they must bring a companion with them for aid.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 0.5 miles (0.8 km)
Total Stairs: No stairs
Difficulty: Easy
Ages: All ages. Youth under the age of 16 years, must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Restrooms: Yes
Fees: $22 Adults, $16 Youth, $11 Senior Pass Holder, $11 Access Pass Holder.

Check ticket availability and purchase tickets for the Accessible Tour.

For nearly two centuries, Cleaveland Avenue has attracted people from all over the world to see its sparkling walls of gypsum and unique tube-shaped passages. Evidence of early visitors can still be seen on the walls and ceiling of some of its most famous places. This tour is ideal for people looking for a unique part of Mammoth Cave and an interest in geology and history. 

This tour enters the cave by descending nearly 200 stairs and exits the cave via an elevator. In the event the elevator is not available due to unforeseen circumstances, the tour retraces the route and ascends the near 200 stairs back out of the cave.

This tour requires a short bus ride to and from the visitor center to the cave entrance. 

Includes all of the Accessible Tour route.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km)
Total Stairs: 200 (400 if the elevator is unavailable)
Difficulty: Moderate
Ages: All ages. Youth under the age of 16 years, must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Restrooms: Yes
Fees: $22 Adults, $16 Youth, $11 Senior Pass Holder, $11 Access Pass Holder.

Check ticket availability and purchase tickets for the Cleavland Avenue Tour.

This classic tour visits areas of Mammoth Cave that have been used for nearly 100 years. This tour begins in a sinkhole, passes through huge domes, amazing breakdown, and ends in the dripstone section known as Frozen Niagara. Please note that this tour ascends and descends hundreds of stairs and several steep inclines, which can be difficult for many visitors, as there are no alternative routes. Focusing on the natural formation of the cave, this tour is ideal for people interested in science and wanting to see stalactites and stalagmites.

This tour requires a short bus ride to and from the visitor center to the cave entrance.

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

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 0.75 miles (1.2 km)
Total Stairs: 500, including 280 on the initial staircase descent
Difficulty: Moderate
Ages: All ages. Youth under the age of 16 years, must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Restrooms: No
Fees: $21 Adults, $16 Youth, $10.50 Senior Pass Holder, $10.50 Access Pass Holder.
Check ticket availability and purchase tickets for the Domes & Dripstones Tour.

The naturally decorated Frozen Niagara section remains one of the most famous at Mammoth Cave, and serves as the last stop for a variety of cave tours. While many tours require long hikes and numerous stairs to reach this point, this short tour offers a chance to visit this area with only 12 stairs. This tour is ideal for anyone with difficulty walking long distances or negotiating stairs.

This tour requires a short bus ride to and from the visitor center to the cave entrance.

This tour is seen in its entirety on the Domes & Dripstones Tour.

Duration: 1.25 hours
Distance: 0.25 miles (0.4 km)
Total Stairs: 12, plus an optional 98
Difficulty: Easy
Ages: All ages. Youth under the age of 16 years, must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Restrooms: No
Fees: $18 Adults, $14 Youth, $9 Senior Pass Holder, $9 Access Pass Holder.
Check ticket availability and purchase tickets for the Frozen Niagara Tour.

Gothic Avenue was named because of its unusual rock formations resembling Gothic architecture, and was the site of some of the earliest 19th century tourism. Early visitors left behind signatures, artifacts, and monuments in this area of the cave, which also features stalactites and stalagmites. This tour focuses on 1800s tourism and uses of Mammoth Cave, and is ideal for people with a high interest in history.

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

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 1 miles (1.6 km)
Total Stairs: 160
Difficulty: Moderate
Ages: All ages. Youth under the age of 16 years, must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Restrooms: No
Fees: $19 Adults, $15 Youth, $9.50 Senior Pass Holder, $9.50 Access Pass Holder.
Check ticket availability and purchase tickets for the Gothic Avenue Tour.

At 4 hours long, this lengthy tour explores the geologic diversity of what Mammoth Cave has to offer. Going through slot canyons, tubular passageways, tall canyons, and tunnels sparkled with gypsum, this tour is the longest walking tour we offer. This tour also encounters hundreds of steps and ascends and descends many tall, incredibly steep hills. Covering a wide variety of the history and geology of Mammoth Cave, this tour is ideal for those wishing for a lengthy, half-day hike inside of the cave. 

This tour requires a short bus ride to and from the visitor center to the cave entrance.

This tour includes the entire Frozen Niagara Tour route and all of the Domes and Dripstones Tour except for the 280 stairs descending the vertical shafts at the entrance.

Duration: 4 hours
Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Total Stairs: 1313
Difficulty: Strenuous
Ages: 6 years and older. Youth under the age of 16 years, must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Restrooms: Yes
Fees: $35 Adults, $27 Youth, $17.50 Senior Pass Holder, $17.50 Access Pass Holder.
Check ticket availability and purchase tickets for the Grand Avenue Tour.

This classic Mammoth Cave Tour visits many of the historic areas that originally made Mammoth Cave famous. Going through tunnels that humans have used for thousands of years, this tour not only explores huge rooms that gave Mammoth Cave its name, but also descends to much tighter places deep inside the cave. Please note that this tour ascends and descends hundreds of stairs and several steep inclines, which can be difficult for many visitors, as there are no alternative routes. This tour is ideal for people with an interest in history and a sense of adventure.  

This tour is seen in its entirety on the River Styx Modified Tour.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km)
Total Stairs: 540, including 155 at Mammoth Dome
Difficulty: Moderate
Ages: All ages. Youth under the age of 16 years, must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Restrooms: Yes
Fees: $20 Adults, $15 Youth, $10 Senior Pass Holder, $10 Access Pass Holder.
Check ticket availability and purchase tickets for the Historic Tour.

An introductory tour into the Historic Entrance, this section of cave houses many great artifacts left behind by historic and prehistoric people. Staying along broad walkways in some of the largest rooms in Mammoth Cave, this tour is ideal for those who do not like tight spaces, have small children, or anyone looking for a tour with limited steps. This tour is the guided version of the self-guided Discovery Tour.

Includes part of the Historic Modified Tour and all of the Discovery Self-Guided Modified Tour routes. Includes a steep outdoor hillside trail to and from the cave’s natural entrance. This tour does not see dripstone formation areas.

Duration: 1.25 hours
Distance: 0.75 miles (1.2 km)
Total Stairs: 130
Difficulty: Easy
Ages: All ages. Youth under the age of 16 years, must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Restrooms: No
Fees: $11 Adults, $9 Youth, $5.50 Senior Pass Holder, $5.50 Access Pass Holder
Tickets for this tour are only available in person at the visitor center, the day of the tour. 

 

Tour Route Photo Galleries

 
 

Other Cave Tours

Mammoth Cave offers numerous cave tours throughout the year. The selection of tours changes seasonally and with staffing availability. You can read descriptions and learn more about these other cave tours before planning your trip to the park. Check back with our cave tour schedule or park calendar to see future offerings of these other cave tours.

 

Last updated: January 15, 2022

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave , KY 42259-0007

Phone:

270 758-2180

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