Category Archives: Mammoth Cave

Road Ends in Water

Green River Ferry caution sign

A sign reading “Road Ends in Water” might alarm the unwary driver, but we drove the Green River Ferry Road for that very reason. Two rural ferries operate within Mammoth Cave National Park, and we were intrigued enough to seek out at least one of the river crossings.Ferry ride

Mammoth Cave National Park Map and Visitor Information

We drove down a hill and edged up to a stop sign to wait our turn, watching river water spray sideways as the unusual ferry boat glided nonchalantly across the few yards of river splitting the road. It appeared as a sliver of asphalt, flanked by a Porta John and an operator’s booth. As it putttered toward us, it gave physicality to the Irish Blessing: “May the road rise to meet you...”

Ferry crossingWe drove aboard with no notions of u-turns, and one additional car squeezed in behind us. There was just enough time to snap a couple of photos before the safety arm lifted, releasing us to explore the other side of the Green River. We honked a “thank you” as we drove off. The ferry captain tooted his horn in reply, loaded up with his next vehicle and began his return journey, bearing and sharing the essential missing piece of road.

Mammoth Cave National Park Map and Visitor Information

The largest cave system in the world; 367 miles so far…!

Miles of trails both above and below ground.

Hiking, biking, kayak/canoe, horseback riding, hunting/fishing, camping…

“Yes” for pets (not in Cave; kennel available within park)

 

Park Fees: None for park entry. Cave tours range from $5 – $48.00 with discounts for youth and senior citizens.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7; Mammoth Cave, KY 42259

Phone: 270-758-2180

Directions: Travel south on I-65 from Louisville, KY. Take Mammoth Cave/Cave City exit 53 and follow the signs to Mammoth Cave NP.

Park Website

View Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky in a larger map


Updated from March 31, 2009


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Rivers Above and Rivers Below

River Styx stream to Green River

April 2009: The weather forecast called for rain. Lots of it.  And we drove through five hours of a steady downpour to get to our drenched destination! Not the ideal start for a spring break get-away, maybe, but when you’re headed underground anyway, weather becomes an irrelevant and incidental detail.

Redbud

Each time we ventured underground at Mammoth Cave National Park, we knew exactly what to expect: Slightly damp and 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Above ground, we never knew. Our first afternoon we started hiking the River Bluff trail in a drizzle. By the time we gained view of the Green River though, the rain had slowed to occasional drips that added a pleasing glisten to the striking colors of the woods.

Moss and lichen

“Green” varied from almost white lichen to springy yellow-green moss to edgy shades tinged with black.

tree on rock

Stone and tree accentuated one another with contrasting grays and browns, and a spread of fall leaves framed insistent spring flowers.

View of Green River from Bluffs

We found ourselves adding one more trail, and then another, until we’d covered most of the terrain surrounding the Visitor Center area. Highlights included misted views of the meandering Green River and of a one time steamboat landing that had delivered visitors to Mammoth Cave in the early 1900′s.

River Styx cave exit

We also found hints of the grandeur below: The icy blue green waters of the subterranean River Styx that spilled free of the cave into a nestled pool before flowing on to the Green River. And the Mammoth Dome Sink, one of many unremarkable looking bowl-shaped depressions that funnel surface water into the caves below.

trail boardwalk

We wondered who might be walking far below us on a cave trail; it was a strange sensation to know a labyrinth lay just below our feet.

Updated from April 17, 2009.

More on Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky here and under National Parks in right sidebar.

Mammoth Cave National Park Things To Do

Mammoth Cave National Park Map and Visitor Information

Miles of trails both above and below ground.

Hiking, biking, kayak/canoe, horseback riding, hunting/fishing, camping…

“Yes” for pets (not in Cave; kennel available within park)

Park Fees: None for park entry. Cave tours range from $5 – $48.00 with discounts for youth and senior citizens.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7; Mammoth Cave, KY 42259

Phone: 270-758-2180

Directions: Travel south on I-65 from Louisville, KY. Take Mammoth Cave/Cave City exit 53 and follow the signs to Mammoth Cave NP.

Park Website

View Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky in a larger map

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More Mammoth Moments

We’re happily snow-covered and counting down the days until Christmas here in Central OhioAs I shook out snow from my hair after a trail run yesterday, I remembered the “snow balls” of Mammoth Cave.  Here’s a little more about underground hikes in Mammoth Cave National Park where snow, rain and significant temperature fluctuations simply don’t occur.

Originally posted: April 7, 2009

A recent trip to Mammoth Cave National Park left me with a deepened respect for the job of a park ranger. Part professor and part coach with additional measures of management finesse, security awareness and survival skills – the Mammoth Cave park ranger guides are highly qualified and capable individuals. They seem to hold a deep appreciation for their unique venue and the opportunity it gives them to educate and grow that same appreciation in park visitors.Heading out of

“Ranger John” led us on the Historic tour which originated on Level 2 of the five level cave system*. After passing through the “Rotunda” and site of an early Methodist church, he pointed up to the first and oldest level of the cave at a spot called “Booth’s Amphitheater,” explaining that Edwin Booth (brother of the infamous John Wilkes) had once delivered a monologue to cave visitors there. We descended to Level 3 and wound through the twists and turns eroded by ancient water into what is now called “Fat Man’s Misery”.

Mammoth Cave National Park Map and Visitor Information

As we stooped and bent to fit through the canyon passage, Matt remarked on his relief that it wasn’t “Batman’s Misery” as he had originally heard. We would (thankfully!) see only one bat on this hike, attached high above us amongst the dramatic columns of the “Ruins of Karnak”.

Side passage view

In the “River Hall” on Level 4, Ranger John told us that while the last major flood to this area had occurred in the early 2000′s, visitors are sometimes unnerved to hear the River Styx coursing through Level 5 when water levels are high. He then proceeded to share the “4 Rules of Safe Caving” for those of us who view dark unknown spaces as worthy of exploration.

The 4 Rules of Safe Caving:

4) Never explore with less than 4 people in the group. This allows one to stay with an injured party while two go for help.
3) Always take 3 sources of light. A long-lasting LED flashlight is recommended as well as a lighter or candle that can provide heat and indicate air flow.
2) Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
1) If you get lost in the dark sit down where you are and stay put.

*Five levels have been verified. Any additional levels are underwater at this geological time.

For more on Mammoth Cave National Park, select “Mammoth Cave” under “National Parks” or “Kentucky” in Post Categories (right sidebar).

Mammoth Cave National Park Things To Do

Mammoth Cave National Park Map and Visitor Information

The largest cave system in the world; 367 miles so far…!

Miles of trails both above and below ground.

Hiking, biking, kayak/canoe, horseback riding, hunting/fishing, camping…

“Yes” for pets (not in Cave; kennel available within park)

Park Fees: None for park entry. Cave tours range from $5 – $48.00 with discounts for youth and senior citizens.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7; Mammoth Cave, KY 42259

Phone: 270-758-2180

Directions: Travel south on I-65 from Louisville, KY. Take Mammoth Cave/Cave City exit 53 and follow the signs to Mammoth Cave NP.

Park Website

View Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky in a larger map


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