Fall 2016

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 September 6 - October 29, 2016. The Visitor Center hours are 8:00 a.m. - 5:30p.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
Frozen Niagara Tour 9:00, (9:45 Sat/Sun), (2:30 Mon - Fri), 3:15, 4:00
Domes & Dripstones Tour 9:30, 10:00, (10:30 Sat), 11:00, (11:30 Sat/Sun), 12:15, 1:00, (1:45 Sat), 3:15
Great Onyx Lantern Tour 10:15, 2:30
Mammoth Cave Accessibility Tour 1:30 (begins October 1)
Grand Avenue 9:45 Monday - Friday
Cleaveland Tour 2:45
Wild Cave Tour 9:00 Saturday & Sunday
Surface Walks & Programs - Free of Charge! Departures
Heritage Walk 9:30, 1:15, 3:30
Porch Talks 9:30, 1:30, (3:00 Friday & Saturday)
Green River Bluffs Hike 12:30 Friday & Saturday
Let's Go Birding! 8:15 a.m. (Tue & Thu until September 29)
Fall Nature Hike 11:00 (Tue & Thu until September 29)
Evening Program 6:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday

 
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. To reach this section of cave, this tour includes a 15 minute bus ride to and from the Frozen Niagara entrance.

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: $13 Adults, $9 Youth, $6.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:00, (9:45 Sat/Sun), (2:30 Mon - Fri), 3:15, 4:00
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
Take a 4 mile bus ride from the visitor center to the New Entrance to Mammoth Cave. Descend approximately 280 stairs through a dramatic series of domes and pits. Continue the journey through large Mammoth sized passages and conclude the cave experience as you take a short walk through a variety of dripstone formations. The tour exits at the Frozen Niagara Entrance to the cave where visitors board a bus for a ride back to the visitor center. It's a great way to see the many faces of some of Mammoth Cave's passage ways.

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: $15 Adults, $10 Youth, $7.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:30, 10:00, (10:30 Sat), 11:00, (11:30 Sat/Sun), 12:15, 12:30, 1:00, (1:45 Sat), 3:15
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. The Great Onyx cave was a privately owned and operated cave along Flint Ridge 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 beautifully decorated natural wonder by lantern light offers a different perspective to the multitudes of dripstone, gypsum, and helictite formations.

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: $18 Adults, $13 Youth, $9 Special Access
Tour Times: 10:15, 2:30
Want to make a reservation? Click here


 
Accessibility tour in Cleaveland Avenue
Accessibility tour in Cleaveland Avenue

Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour
(begins October 1)

See unique gypsum formations, historic cave writing and more on accessible cave trails. Using the elevator entrance, this ½ mile round trip provides visitors with special needs an opportunity to visit the Snowball Room and includes portions of the Cleaveland Avenue Tour and Grand Avenue Tour. Wheelchairs, scooters and other assistive devices are allowed. Accessible restrooms are available in the Snowball Room.

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.

Participants and their companions meet at the Visitor Center for a caravan to the elevator entrance. Assistive devices will need to be decontaminated upon exiting the cave to limit the spread of White Nose Syndrome.


Notice: Due to only having one elevator, this tour could be cancelled on short notice for elevator maintenance/repair.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 1/2 mile maximum
Total Stairs: No stairs
Difficulty: Easy - Accessible
Tour Capacity: 14
Price: $20 Adults, $14 Youth, $10 Special Access
Tour Times: 12:30
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
The Rocky Mountains on the Grand Avenue tour route.
The Rocky Mountains on the Grand Avenue tour route.

Grand Avenue Tour

This very physically demanding trip will give you an excellent idea of the size and complexity of the Mammoth Cave System. Learn of the cultural and natural history of the cave and how they are interwoven as your journey takes you through some of the most dramatic passages in this "mammoth" cave. Walk through a variety of cave as you encounter gypsum lined passages, narrow canyons, steep underground hills, large rooms and ares with dripstone formations.

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.


Age Limit: 6 and over
Duration: 4 hours
Distance: 4 miles
Total Stairs: Nearly 700
Difficulty: Very Strenuous
Tour Capacity: 78
Price: $26 Adults, $19 Youth, $13 Special Access
Tour Time: 9:45 Monday - Friday
Want a reservation? Click here

 
Cleaveland Avenue
A tour group stands within the near mile long tunnel known as Cleaveland Avenue.

Cleaveland Avenue Tour
Descend nearly 200 stairs at the Carmichael Entrance, pass the craggy breakdown of the Rocky Mountains and enter gypsum-encrusted Cleaveland Avenue. This tour showcases gypsum in various crystalline shapes and sizes. Viewed by visitors since the 1840s, the beautifully elliptical Cleaveland Avenue junctions to the Snowball Room. Visitors retrace Cleaveland Avenue, ascending nearly 200 stairs at the Carmichael Entrance. This entire route is seen on the Grand Avenue Tour. Restroom facilities and water fountains will be available in the Snowball Room. However, no food or beverages, other than water, are permitted or provided.

This tour involves a 3 mile bus ride to and from the Carmichael Entrance to access Mammoth Cave.


Duration: 2.5 hours
Distance: 2 miles round trip
Total Stairs: 230
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 38
Price: $16 Adults, $10 Youth, $8 Special Access
Tour Time: 2:45
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
A suitable pair of boots meeting footwear requirements for the Wild Cave tour.
A suitable pair of boots meeting footwear requirements 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. PLEASE READ: Sturdy, lace-up hiking boots that cover the ankle are required. Boots with zippers will not be admitted on the tour. Boots must have good aggressive 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: $55 Adults, $27.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:00 Saturday & Sunday
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 

MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK SURFACE ACTIVITIES
Free of charge

 
Old Guide's Cemetery
Old Guide's Cemetery

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 Guide's 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, 1:15, 3:30

 
Ranger With Visitors
Ranger with visitors at a porch talk.

Porch Talk
Join a park ranger for a brief discussion for one of the many subjects centered in Mammoth Cave National Park. Topics range from the rich cultural history to one of the many disciplines associated with the park's natural history. No matter what the topic, there's surely something to learn and enjoy with this small group setting with a park ranger.

Duration: Approximately 15 minutes
Program Times: 9:30, 1:30, (3:00 Friday & Saturday)

 
Green River Bluffs Overlook
Green River Bluffs Overlook

Green River Bluffs Hike
Join a park ranger and enjoy the scenery of the Green River Bluffs Trail. This trail winds around the ridge line taking you from the sandstone capped hills to the limestone sided bluffs and takes in a scenic vista of the Green River itself. Discover how the forces of nature today shape and carve the landscape before you.

Duration: 1 3/4 hours
Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: Moderate
Trip Time: 12:30 Friday & Saturday

 
Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler

Let's Go Birding!

Join a local naturalist and discover a part of the world where birds nest and rule the skies. Enjoy the sights and the sounds that greet each morning here in cave country and discover some of the most commonly seen bird species in the park. Learn what the park is doing to monitor and help protect these wonderful creatures that add so much to the landscape.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: varies
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Trip Time: 8:15 a.m. on Tuesdays & Thursdays*

*Last hike for the season is September 29th.

 
Fall Hike
Visitors on a fall hike

Fall Nature Hike

Without question the underground of Mammoth Cave National Park holds a world of discovery. However, the world above the cave is an often overlooked resource in understanding the complexity of the entire ecosystem. Explore the surface with a local naturalist and discover the rich abundance of flora and fauna in the woodland and gain a greater understanding of the wonders of the park!



Duration: 2 hours
Distance: varies
Difficulty: varies
Trip Time: 11:00 on Tuesdays & Thursdays*

*Last hike for the season is September 29th.

 
Campfire

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 - accessible
Campfire Program Times: 6:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday


Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

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

Phone:

(270) 758-2180
General information line for Mammoth Cave National Park

Contact Us