Fall 2018

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 August 19 - September 15, 2018. The Visitor Center hours are 8:00 a.m. - 6:00p.m. Central Time.

Tickets are required to enter Mammoth Cave. Reservations are not required, but are strongly recommended. Cave tours frequently sell out and reservations are the only way to ensure a spot is available for you and/or your party. Please plan accordingly. 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 8:30, 9:15, 11:30, (2:30 Sat & Sun), 4:15
Mammoth Passage Tour 9:15, (11:15 Mon-Fri)
Domes & Dripstones Tour 9:30, 11:00, 12:15, (1:15 Mon-Fri), 2:00
Historic Tour (9:45 Mon-Fri), 10:00, 12:45, 1:45, 3:15
Violet City Lantern Tour 2:15
Great Onyx Lantern Tour 3:30
Mammoth Cave Accessibility Tour 10:30, 1:30
Grand Avenue 9:45 Mon- Fri
Gothic Avenue Tour 8:45 Sat & Sun
River Styx Tour 9:00 Sat & Sun
Cleaveland Avenue Tour 11:45 Sat & Sun
Introduction to Caving Tour 1:00 Sat & Sun
Wild Cave Tour 9:00 Sat & Sun
Surface Walks & Programs - Free of Charge! Departures
Porch Talk 10:00, (12:15 Sat & Sun)
Echo River Spring Walk (11:30 Sat & Sun), (3:45 Mon-Fri)
Sand Cave Almanac 1:00 Fri & Sat
Heritage Walk 3:15 Mon - Fri
Turnhole Bend Walk 4:00 Fri & Sat
Evening Program 7:00 p.m. Fri & Sat


 
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 ¼ hours
Distance: ¼ mile (0.4 km)
Total Stairs: 12, plus an optional 98
Difficulty: Easy
Tour Capacity: 30
Price: $14 Adults, $10 Youth, $7 Special Access
Tour Times: 8:30, 9:15, 11:30, (2:30 Sat & Sun), 4:15
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
Ranger with group discussing War of 1812 Saltpeter Artifacts.
Ranger discussing the War of 1812 saltpeter artifacts on the Mammoth Passage Tour.
Mammoth Passage Tour*
Visit the Rotunda, one of the largest rooms in the cave and explore a vast canyon passageway. Learn about prehistoric Native American explorers, saltpeter mining operations, and basic cave geology. This is a short introductory tour to Mammoth Cave.

Includes part of the Historic Tour and all of the Discovery 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 ¼ hours
Distance: ¾ mile (1.2 km)
Total Stairs: 160
Difficulty: Easy
Tour Capacity: 70
Price: $8 Adult, $6 Youth, $4 Special Access
Tour Times: Daily: 9:15, (11:15 Mon-Fri)
To view what part of Mammoth Cave this tour covers click here.

*This tour is offered day of sale only and therefore tickets are not available by reservation.
 
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 (3.6 km)
Total Stairs: 540, including 155 up to Mammoth Dome
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 110
Price: $17 Adults, $12 Youth, $8.50 Special Access, $6 Educational Rate
Tour Times: (9:45 Mon-Fri), 10:00, 12:45, 1:45, 3:15
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
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: ¾ mile (1.2 km)
Total Stairs: 500, including 280 on the initial staircase descent
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 110
Price: $17 Adults, $12 Youth, $8.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:30, 11:00, 12:15, (1:15 Mon-Fri), 2:00
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
Accessibility tour in Cleaveland Avenue
Accessibility tour in Cleaveland Avenue

Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour

This tour will be unavailable from August 20 - 24 due to elevator maintenance.


Accessibility Alert: This is an ACCESSIBLE TOUR. This tour is accessible for persons with a disability or otherwise limited physical mobility. 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.

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 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.


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

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: ½ mile maximum (0.8 km)
Total Stairs: No stairs
Difficulty: Easy - Accessible
Tour Capacity: 14
Price: $20 Adults, $14 Youth, $10 Special Access
Tour Times: 10:30, 1:30
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 is prohibited.

Age Limit: 6 and over
Duration: 3 hours
Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km)
Total Stairs: 160 and numerous hills with no hand rails
Difficulty: Strenuous
Ticket Capacity: 38
Price: $20 Adults, $15 Youth, $10 Special Access
Tour Times: 2:15
Want to make a reservation? Click here
To view what part of Mammoth Cave this tour covers 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 1960s. 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 (1.6 km)
Total Stairs: 40
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 38
Price: $20 Adults, $15 Youth, $10 Special Access
Tour Times: 3:30
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 areas 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.

Duration: 4 hours
Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Age Limit: Six and older
Total Stairs: Approximately 700
Difficulty: Very Strenuous
Tour Capacity: 78
Price: $30 Adults, $23 Youth, $15 Special Access
Tour Time: 9:45 Mon-Fri
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 ½ miles (1.6 km)
Total Stairs: 230
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 40
Price: $15 Adults, $10 Youth, $7.50 Special Access
Tour Times: 8:45 Sat & Sun
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
Dead Sea on the River Styx Tour
Dead Sea on the River Styx Tour

River Styx Tour
Trace the stages of cave development from solid layers of limestone to the world’s longest known cave system. Hike from ridge top to underground river and witness the persistent power of the water that created this geologic marvel. Experience large canyon passages, smooth elliptical tubes and beautifully sculpted shafts. At the cave’s lowest level, peer into the cold waters of the Dead Sea, River Styx and Lake Lethe, where water is still working to lengthen the cave system.


This tour includes the entire Historic Tour route with a side trip to the river level. This is a geologic and natural history activity while the Historic Tour is a cultural history program.

Duration: 2½ hours
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km)
Total Stairs: Approximately 500
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 40
Price: $18 Adults, $13 Youth, $9 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:00 Sat & Sun
Want to make 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. The beautifully elliptical Cleaveland Avenue emerges in the Snowball Room, viewed by visitors since the 1840s. Visitors exit the cave with a 267 feet ride up an elevator. 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.

Visitors will have to retrace Cleaveland Avenue to exit the tour in the event the elevator is down for maintenance or repair.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
Total Stairs: 183
Difficulty: Moderate
Tour Capacity: 38
Price: $20 Adults, $14 Youth, $10 Special Access
Tour Time: 11:45
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 
A pair of boots meeting the requirements for the Introduction to Caving Tour.
A pair of boots meeting the requirements for 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 millions of 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. Sturdy, 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 ½ hours
Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
Total Stairs: 280+
Difficulty: Strenuous
Tour Capacity: 20
Price: $30 Adults, $24 Youth, $15 Special Access
Tour Times: 1:00 Sat. & Sun.
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 (8 km)
Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous
Tour Capacity: 14
Price: $60 Adults, $30 Special Access
Tour Times: 9:00 Sat & Sun
Want to make a reservation? Click here

 

MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK SURFACE ACTIVITIES
Free of charge

 
Ranger With Visitors
Ranger with visitors at a porch talk.

Porch Talk
Join a park ranger for a brief discussion on one of the many subjects relating to 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: 10:00, (12:15 Saturday & Sunday)

 
Echo River Spring
Echo River Springs Walk
(Wheelchair Accessible)

Visitors of all ages can join a Park Ranger for a short and easy walk to Echo River Springs. An underground river inside Mammoth Cave surfaces at this spring and flows out to nearby Green River. The ranger will share some of the challenges of living with this karst landscape -- both on the surface and inside the cave system.

Duration: 45 minutes
Distance: ¼ mile (0.4 km)
Difficulty: Easy
Times: (11:30 Sat & Sun), (3:45 Mon-Fri)
Meets at: Echo River Spring Trailhead

 
Mammoth Cave Baptist Church
Mammoth Cave Baptist Church

Sand Cave Almanac Caravan
A progressive walking and driving tour telling the saga of Floyd Collins, trapped in Sand Cave in 1925. See the Collins' family home place and end your journey at the Mammoth Cave Baptist Church at the gravesite of Floyd Collins.

This activity is conducted in a caravan in which visitors drive their own vehicle. The caravan traces a 5.2 mile distance from Sand Cave Trailhead to Mammoth Cave Baptist Church.

Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 5.2 miles (driving) (8.32 km)
Difficulty: Easy - Sand Cave Trail is wheelchair accessible
Trip Time: 1:00 Friday & Saturday

 
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: ¾ mile (1.2 km)
Difficulty: Easy - handicap accessible
Trip Times: 3:15 Mon-Fri

 
Turnhole Bend Trail
Turnhole Bend Trail
Turnhole Bend Hike
Enjoy a scenic hike along the Kentucky ridgeline to a scenic overlook of the Green River. View the unique characteristics of the karst terrain with sinkholes and emerging springs. A beautiful woodland hike!

Tour meets at the Turnhole Bend Trailhead on the south side of the park.

Duration: 1 hour
Distance: ½ mile (0.8 km)
Difficulty: Moderate
Trip Times: 4:00 (Fri & Sat)
 
Campfire
Campfire

Evening 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: 7:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday

Last updated: August 16, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

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

Phone:

(270) 758-2180

Contact Us