Mammoth Cave National Park: The Complete Guide for 2020

Tarah Chieffi

Indiana, USA

Mammoth Cave —the longest tunnel cave system in the world—formed over 10 million years ago, but wasn’t designated as an official US national park until July 1, 1941. The cave earned its name for both the size of its massive caverns and its hundreds of miles of explorable passageways. Within the cave’s 412 miles of explored tunnels, visitors can choose from a variety of cave tours (from self-led to twinkling lanterns to wheelchair and kiddo accessible). Above ground, head to Mammoth for hiking, horseback riding, and camping within the park’s more than 52,000 acres of scenic Kentucky landscape. The Green and Nolin Rivers run through the park, giving guests ample opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, boating, and fishing.

Where is Mammoth Cave National Park?

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

Mammoth Cave National Park is tucked amongst the rolling hills of south-central Kentucky’s gorgeous green countryside, just 35 miles northeast of Bowling Green and 90 miles south of Louisville. The park is surrounded by kitschy roadside attractions and is only a short drive from Kentucky’s famed bourbon distilleries.

Mammoth Cave Facts

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

Thanks to its underground location, Mammoth Cave is only mildly affected by the changing seasons. Temperatures hover around 54°F year-round. Over the years, the  Mammoth Cave has been used as a church, wedding venue, and tuberculosis hospital. Today, Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system, with much more still to be explored.

Mammoth Cave Weather

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

Because of its steady year-round temperature, a tour of Mammoth Cave serves as a cool retreat in the summer and a warm welcome in the winter. Of course, most of the activities on the 53,000 acres of land above the park are best enjoyed May through September when Kentucky’s temperatures are best suited for being outdoors. Mammoth Cave’s busiest months are June, July, and August.

Mammoth Cave Hours

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

The grounds of Mammoth Cave National Park are open 24-hours a day, 365-days a year. The Mammoth Cave visitor center, which serves as the departure point for cave tours, is typically open from 9:00AM to 5:00PM, but from October 26 through March 6 and on holidays, they’re open from 8:30AM to 4:30PM. Most campground reservations and cave tours can be booked online, but in-person assistance is only available during these times.

Mammoth Cave National Park is under limited operations due to COVID-19. Some facilities may not be available and staffing may be limited.

Mammoth Cave Entrance Fee

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

There is no fee to enter Mammoth Cave National Park. Most activities, like hiking and biking, are free. Cave tour prices vary from $6 to $60 for adults. There are five days a year that are designated as “fee-free” days for all U.S. National Parks and Mammoth Cave offers a limited number of free cave tours on those dates.

Directions to Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

From Louisville, Kentucky, take Interstate 65 South to Exit 53 for Cave City. Turn right off the exit onto KY-70 and continue straight on as it becomes Mammoth Cave Parkway. Follow the Mammoth Cave Parkway to the visitor center. The physical address is: 1 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, 42259.

Mammoth Cave Lodging

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

Mammoth Cave Airbnb

There are a number of rustic cabins, historic homes, and bed & breakfast Airbnb options available in the Mammoth Cave area. The best way to find something close to the park is to search for “Mammoth Cave” in the location bar and use the map feature to determine each location’s distance from the park (many will also give this information in the description). Cell service near the cave can be spotty, so check the details to ensure the host has wi-fi if that is important for your trip.

Mammoth Cave Hotels

  1. The Lodge at Mammoth Cave
  2. The Woodland Cottages
  3. Grand Victoria Inn
  4. Hickory Cabins
  5. Serenity Hill B&B

Mammoth Cave Camping

  1. Horse Cave KOA
  2. Jellystone Park Mammoth Cave
  3. Houchin Ferry Campground
  4. River Island Camping
  5. Mammoth Cave Campground
  6. Maple Springs Group Campground
  7. Backcountry and Riverside Camping
  8. Mammoth Cave Horse Camp
  9. Rock Cabin Camping
  10. Double J Stables

Mammoth Cave Tours

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

Mammoth Cave offers a variety of tours for all ages and experience levels. Their most popular tours are the Historic Tour and the Frozen Niagra, both of which give guests an up-close look at the massive tunnels and unique formations that made Mammoth Cave famous.

The Wild Cave Tour is Mammoth’s longest and most strenuous tour, and it’s only recommended for experienced cave explorers. Mammoth Cave also offers an accessible tour that uses an elevator instead of stairs and a kids-only tour for little adventurers. Tour availability is limited and advance reservations are recommended.

Mammoth Cave Hiking

Mammoth Cave National Park,
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.
  1. Heritage Trail
  2. Historic Entrance Trail
  3. Echo River Springs Trail
  4. Sinkhole Trail
  5. Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail
  6. Cedar Sink Trail
  7. First Creek Lake Trail
  8. Turnhole Bend Nature Trail
  9. Sloan’s Crossing Pond Walk
  10. Sand Cave Trail

Best Things to Do Near Mammoth Cave

Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World, Cave City
Dinosaur World, Cave City, Kentucky.

Big Mike’s Rock and Gift Shop

Big Mike's Rock Shop, Cave City
Big Mike’s Rock and Gift Shop, Barren County, Kentucky.

Spelunkers Café & Ice Cream Parlor 

Spelunkers Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor, Mammoth Cave
Spelunkers Café & Ice Cream Parlor, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo

Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, Horse Cave
Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, Horse Cave, Kentucky.

Green River Canoeing

Green River Canoeing, Cave City

Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum

Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum, Cave City
Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum, Cave City, Kentucky.

Mammoth Cave Historic Train

Engine No. 4, Mammoth Cave
Mammoth Cave Historic Train, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

Old Guide’s Cemetery

Old Guides Cemetery, Mammoth Cave
Old Guide’s Cemetary, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

Double J Stables

Double J Stables and Campgrounds, Mammoth Cave
Double J Stables, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Green River Ferry

Green River Ferry, Mammoth Cave
Green River Ferry, Edmonson County, Kentucky.

Kentucky Action Park

Kentucky Action Park, Cave City
Kentucky Action Park, Cave City, Kentucky.