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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
Refunds will be processed if you cancel before your tour time and date. There will be $1 per ticket charge regardless the reason for the cancellation. Customers who cancel any tour after the reservation time and date or no-shows will forfeit the tour fee.
Descriptions of Cave Tours
This tour will be available daily from January 1, 2024 through February 29, 2024 with half of the tickets being reservable through www.recreation.gov and the rest of the tickets being purchased at the Visitor Center the day of. You may call the Visitor Center at 270-758-2180 on the day of your visit to check its availability.
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.
This tour is not always offered. Please call the visitor center at 270-758-2180 on the day of your visit to check its availability. This tour is typically offered Memorial Day to Labor day.
There is a fee for this 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. This tour is ideal for anyone with difficulty walking long distances or negotiating stairs.
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.
Call the visitor center at 270-758-2180 on the day of your visit for availability.
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.
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.
Enjoy this Historic Tour with a bonus side trip to one of the sites of the famous 1840s Mammoth Cave experiment to treat consumption. This tour is ideal for people who want a Historic Tour and have a little extra time to spend in the cave.
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 as you travel Cleaveland Avenue to the Snowball Room. This tour is ideal for people looking for a unique part of Mammoth Cave and an interest in geology and history.
Take a leisurely bus ride with a ranger across the park landscape and learn about the communities and people that were once here. After a short bus ride, enjoy a hike in the Tranquil Valley of Wondering Woods. At the end of the hike, a short cave tour awaits you where you'll be surrounded by beautiful cave formation!
A beautiful cave in its own right, Great Onyx Cave houses an abundance of beautiful geologic formations that sparkle in the lantern light of this tour. Visitors on this tour can see many stalactites, stalagmites, gypsum crystals, and helictites. This cave was also the site of very important cultural history in the early days of Kentucky cave tourism. This tour is ideal for people with an interest in cave tourism history and unusual rock formations. Please note: this tour is in Great Onyx Cave, which is separate from Mammoth Cave.
A truly historic way to experience Mammoth Cave, this tour travels exclusively by lantern light. At three hours long, this tour winds through the history and prehistory of Mammoth Cave as you wander through huge, broad tunnels. This tour climbs and descends many incredibly steep hills on historic dirt trails as you experience the cave in the light of the earliest explorers. This tour is ideal for visitors who like to hike and are wanting a unique way to experience the cave.
Following along the Historic Tour Route, this tour focuses on the unique geologic and natural history of Mammoth Cave. Including a brief side trip to the underground water level, this tour takes an in-depth look at the millions of years of formation of Mammoth Cave. This tour is ideal for visitors with a high interest in geology.
An evening tour in Mammoth Cave by lantern light, this tour winds its way to historic Star Chamber. Described as more of an experience tour than a sightseeing tour, the Star Chamber Tour explores historic sections of the cave in the lighting of the earliest explorers, emerging from the cave in late evening. Focusing on early history of Mammoth Cave, this tour includes a trip into Gothic Avenue. This tour is ideal for visitors wanting a unique way to experience the cave and its history.
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 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.
The most extreme tour offered at Mammoth Cave, this crawling tour is an all-day adventure underground. This tour is very physically demanding. Lengthy amounts of time will be spent crawling through extremely tight crawl spaces and climbing through difficult areas. This tour is ideal for people who wish to spend the entire day overcoming a wide variety of extremely challenging physical obstacles in a unique environment. Requires at least 2 participants.
In order to minimize the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a bat disease caused by an invasive fungus, Mammoth Cave National Park has instituted strict cleaning procedures for all off-trail crawling tours. All equipment (coveralls, helmets, knee pads, and head lamps) are provided by the park. Visitors must provide their own footwear. No personal caving equipment allowed. No exceptions. Shorts and a t-shirt recommended for wear under the required coveralls.
MUST BE AT LEAST 16 YRS. OF AGE TO PARTICIPATE ON THIS TOUR. AN ADULT MUST ACCOMPANY VISITORS UNDER AGE 18. Chest or hip measurement must not exceed 42 inches; if you are larger, you cannot physically pass through the crawlspaces. Lace-up hiking boots that cover the ankle are required. Boots must have sturdy over the ankle support and aggressive tread. Boots with zippers will not be admitted on the tour. No slick-soled footwear is permitted. No tennis shoes or boots with zippers allowed. You will not be allowed to participate in the tour if you are not wearing proper footwear -- no exceptions.
**There will be no refund for showing up at the park with wrong requirements.**
Duration: 6 hours
Distance: 5 1/2 miles
Difficulty: Extremely Difficult
Ages: 16 and older
Fees: $66 Adults, N/A Youth, $33 Senior Pass Holder, $33 Access Pass Holder
March 1st Fees: $79 Adults, N/A Youth, $39.5 Senior Pass Holder, $39.50 Access Pass Holder
Offering an off-trail experience, This tour crawls and climbs through hard-to-reach areas for 3.5 hours. Focusing on learning safe caving techniques, this tour explores parts of the cave difficult to access. Please note that due to the tight nature of some of the areas visited, chest and hip measurements must not exceed 42 inches in circumference. Lengthy amounts of time will be spent in tight crawl spaces and difficult climbs with no alternative routes available. Please note, at 3.5 hours, there are no restrooms facilities available on this tour. This tour is ideal for people who wish to overcome a wide variety of challenging physical obstacles in a unique environment.
MUST BE AT LEAST 10 YEARS OF AGE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS TOUR. AN ADULT MUST ACCOMPANY VISITORS UNDER AGE 18. Chest and hip measurements must not exceed 42 inches; if you are larger, you cannot physically pass through the crawlspaces. Lace-up hiking boots that cover the ankle are required. Boots must have sturdy over the ankle support and aggressive tread. Boots with zippers will not be admitted on the tour. No slick-soled footwear is permitted. No tennis shoes or boots with zippers allowed. You will not be allowed to participate in the tour if you are not wearing proper footwear -- no exceptions.
**There will be no refund for showing up at the park with wrong requirements.**
Duration: 3.5 hours
Distance: 1 mile
Ages: 10 and older
Fees: $35.00 Adults, $28.00 Youth, $17.50 Special Access
March 1st Fees: $49.00 Adults, $42.00 Youth, $24.50 Special Access
A kids-only off-trail adventures for children ages 8 - 12! 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 as you learn how early visitors ventured through the cave and how cavers safely explore today. Unlock secrets of how cave life survives in the deep darkness. Discover a new world as you hike, crawl, and belly-slide through rarely visited cave passages.
CHILDREN MUST BE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 8 - 12 TO PARTICIPATE ON THIS TOUR. Parents, guardians and/or chaperones must attend the first 30 minutes of the tour to assist children with "suiting up." Adults need to be at the Historic Entrance 30 minutes prior to tour conclusion to assist with gear and prompt pick up of children. Due to the amount of time required to assist at the beginning and end of the tour, adults do not have time to take a concurrent guided cave tour or Self Guided. Coveralls, kneepads, hard hats, and headlamps will be provided. Sturdy, athletic-style, closed-toe shoes required. Shorts and T-shirts are recommended for wear under coveralls. Requires at least 2 participants.
Duration: 2.75 hours
Distance: 1 1/2 mile
Ages: 8 - 12
Fees: N/A Adults, $25.00 Youth, $12.50 Special Access
March 1st Fees: N/A Adults, $25.00 Youth, $12.50 Special Access
Wild Cave and Introduction to Caving Requirements (For Crawling Tours ONLY).
For safety purposes, boot tread MUST be a minimum of 1/4 inch in depth. And boot height MUST be sturdy and cover the ankle bone completely. If not, YOU WILL NOT be able to participate. For Crawling Tours ONLY.
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.