“I’d rather live in a cave with a view of a palace than live in a palace with a view of a cave” – Karl Pilkington
If you are driving from Tennessee to Kentucky you must stop off at Mammoth Caves National Park for some exploring. It is not far off the I65 and is worth a visit! It is home to the longest cave network in the world. Over 400 miles (643km) have been discovered so far and there is a lot more out there. Half a day is enough to get a taste of the vast chambers and complex labyrinths that makes up the cave network, but if you have more time you can camp in the park and check out more of the caves, hike/horseback-ride/cycle the trails and even get an introduction to caving!
You do not need to pay for a permit to enter the park which is great. You do however need to pay for cave tours and camping. But the fees are minimal with a variety of tours are available that range from $7-$55. I visited in December which was during the quiet season which meant for a less crowded tour. The caves were amazing! Some areas had mammoth-sized expanses with amazingly flat ceilings, others dripped from the roof creating shimmering stalagmites and stalagtites. One part of the cave system had been aptly names Central Station with a number of ‘subway systems’ radiating out from the central chamber.
The caves also have an interesting history. The economic Kentucky Cave War erupted in the 1920’s where every man with a cave on their property surrounding Mammoth Caves opened up their own tours and would trick travelers into believing that the famous Mammoth Caves were flooded or collapsed and that they should pay to visit their caves instead! Very sneaky.
I apologise for the terrible photo quality of these pics. Silly me left my SLR’s battery charging in the car and I didn’t realise this until I was in the cave. So iPhone pictures it had to be!