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Interesting Facts About the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky

Jyoti Babel May 27, 2019
Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, U.S.A. is named after the Mammoth-Flint Ridge the National Park encompasses. Sprawling over an area of 52,830 acres, it is the longest known cave system in the world. Stepping into this five layered limestone underground jewel is like stepping into a totally different but parallel world.

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More than 400 miles of the interlinking caves have been mapped till date and new parts continue to be explored and added.

The Tall Dome and the Bottomless Pit

It is believed that it has taken over 280 million years for the cave system at the Mammoth Cave National Park to form as we see today.

The cave is characterized by a dome that is 192 feet high and the famed bottomless pit inside the caves that goes as deep as 105 feet.

Shelter of Primitive Native Americans

Native Americans used the cave system as a shelter even from 4000 to 6000 years ago. Evidences like primitive tools, sandals, torches, etc., have been found in the caves during exploration and it is believed that the Natives ventured only 20 miles into the caves.

Saltpeter Mine for Europeans

Europeans discovered the caves in the 1800s. During the war of 1812, the cave was used by the Europeans for mining saltpeter. They employed slaves for the mining and the saltpeter mined was used for making gunpowder to be used in the war.

Official Establishment

The Mammoth Cave National Park was officially established in 1941, even though the approvals for the park were granted in 1926. Land acquisition and establishing the boundaries of the park took its own sweet course.

UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve

The Mammoth Cave National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 and in the year 1990 it got the coveted title of being an International Biosphere Reserve.

Early Mapping by Slaves

The early mapping of the labyrinth of the caves was done by slaves who went on to become the first guides to the cave system. A prominent name among them was Stephen Bishop. Even after being freed, he continued the work of mapping the caves. He, along with many other slaves of his times, is buried in the onsite Old Guide’s Cemetery.

Drapery Room

A huge variety of formations adorn the walls of the cave system, varying in shape, size and colour. The most unique ones include the Drapery Room which almost looks as if the rocky roof has been thinly pleated in drapes.


Must Sees Inside the Caves

Next is the Frozen Niagara that resembles a waterfall stuck in time and the Snowball Room where hundreds of snowball-like rocks await. Fat Man’s Misery and Grand Avenue are also popular among the visitors.

Home to Rare Endangered Species

The Mammoth Cave National Park is home to some rare species. Albino Shrimp, Indiana Eyeless Crayfish, Kentucky Eyeless Cave Shrimp and Southern Cave Fish are among the few eyeless fishes to name, which are only found here, and are listed as protected and endangered. The caves also house a limited number of endangered Indiana Bat and Gray Bat.

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Tours to Explore the Caves

About 40 miles of the cave system has been developed for public tours. There are a variety of tours available at the caves catering to different needs of the visitors. The routes, time and the level of exertion vary so one can choose accordingly.
Enjoy the natural springs, sparkling gypsum crystal, wondrous stalactites and stalagmites among other sights during the tours.

Apart from the cave trails, hiking trails tours over the ground and along the Nolin and Green river that flows in the National park are also available.
The cave temperature hovers around 55-60°F all year round. So, one can visit it during any time of the year. However, summer months are far busier.

The Mammoth Cave National Park is one of the top attractions in the United States and it attracts as many as 500,000 people annually who come here to explore this incredible wonder of nature.