Mammoth Cave Activities!
Mammoth Cave is known for the cave tours but there are a lot of things to do above ground too. In fact, you’ll be surprised to know the vast amount of things to do at the park. Everything including hiking, biking, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, wildlife watching, camping, Ranger-led activities, scenic driving and more. Over the next several minutes we’ll be discussing all the activities at Mammoth Cave National Park. No matter if you like cave tours or not you’ll still love going to Mammoth Cave. There are plenty of above ground activities at and around the park.
First, the main attraction is the cave tours. Mammoth Cave has been giving tours since 1816 and is one of the oldest tourist locations in America. The cave tours range from an easy .25-miles to a tough 5-mile hike through Mammoth Cave’s roughest terrain. I”m talking about the 6 hours long Wild Cave Tour. Check out this blog on the Best Cave Tours at Mammoth Cave. In it, I describe all the tours in detail. This blog that you are reading now is about all the other activities above ground at the park.
Let us start with something really fun to do at Mammoth Cave. One of the funniest things you can do at Mammoth Cave is kayak or canoe the Green River and Nolin River. There are several companies within the park where you can rent canoes and kayaks. Mammoth Cave Canoe and Kayak, The Green River Canoeing Inc, Cave County Canoe, and Big Buffalo Crossing Canoe. All these companies are authorized to work within the park. Click here to see the Google List of Kayaking companies in the area. The below video is Mammoth Cave Canoe and Kayak. It is right there as you go into the park. Stay on KY-70 (Mammoth Cave Rd) and you’ll see it.
The Green River is very special. Without it, Mammoth Cave never would have formed. The Styx River flow under the cave system cutting deeper and deeper chambers. It ultimately connects to the Green River. The Green River meets up with Nolin River. You can see Nolin Dam with google maps. Also, check out Nolin Lake. Nolin Lake is a perfect place for boating and watersports. It is also a state park.
The Next awesome thing to do at Mammoth Cave is horseback ride. Most people come to Mammoth Cave just for the caves but did you know there are 60 miles of horseback riding trails north of the Green River. You’ll see signs telling which trails you can take horses on. Horseback Riding is fun activities and safe to do. Most of the trails aren’t extreme and horses can do them easily. Check out the National Park Service section on horseback rules. It’s something you might want to go over before you go.
Hiking At Mammoth Cave National Park
There are more than 80 miles of hiking trails. The park is divided into 3 sections. The visitor center, the north side, and the south side. If you like to hike you’ll want to visit the north side. There you will find the park’s 2 of 3 longest trails. Hiking at Mammoth Cave is one of the top activities you can do at the park. The trails aren’t extremely difficult because this part of Kentucky is hilly, it isn’t mountain terrain.
The Visitor Center Trails:
These trails are beautiful and very easy to access. You can get to them from the visitor center and the Mammoth Cave Hotel area. Some of the prettiest above sights like Sunset Point and Scenic Overlook are on the visitor center side. These trails include Sunset Point Trail, River Styx Spring Trail, Heritage Trail, White Cave Trail, Dixon Cave Trail, Sinkhole Trail, Echo River Spring Trail, and Green River Bluffs Trail.
The North Side:
The north side trails are the best. If you are a serious hiker you’ll like the north side the most. It is more isolated than any part of the park. The north side is where you have your best chance of seeing different types of wildlife. Although I saw a lot of deer around the visitor center area too. the north side trials including 16 different trails. Notably Maple Springs Trail, First Creek Trail, and Raymer Hollow Trail.
The South Side:
The trails on the south side are all easy. The south side does have the longest trail in the park, the Mammoth Cave Railroad Hike & Bike Trail (8.6 miles). Also, it has Sloan’s Crossing Pond Walk and Ceder Sink Trail.
Camping is another big activity you can do at the park. If you want to learn more about camping check out the blog Mammoth Cave Camping. There you will learn about all the different campsites and what they have to offer. Backcountry camping is totally free. All you need is a backcountry permit. You can get it at the visitor center for free.
The Wildlife At Mammoth Cave
The wildlife at Mammoth Cave is incredible. It has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Mammoth Cave is an International Biosphere and a World Heritage Site so expect it to be special. There are over 200 species of birds, more than 80 types of fish. and over 50 species of freshwater mussels. Unfortunately, there are 70 animals in the park that are on the endangered and threatened list.
Just for Kids
Mammoth Cave is great for kids. If your kid is between 6 and 13 they are eligible to become Junior Rangers. It is completely free! The Junior Ranger packet is available at the visitor center. Check out the National Park Service website to learn more. Basically, you follow a ranger on guided activities and record your own discoveries in the free booklet and complete it to become a Junior Ranger. It seems cool, I wish I was a kid lol. Also, check out the Junior Cave Scientist Program. It is really neat! The kids get to learn, explore, and protect the National Parks. It is a part of the Junior Ranger Program. Over 200 National Park Service areas currently have Junior Ranger Programs.
Going to Mammoth Cave will be an awesome time if you do some or all the activities mentioned above. Well, I hope this blog helped show you some of the things to do at Mammoth Cave National Park.
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