Mammoth Cave National Park, central Kentucky

June 7, 2003    We arrived at Mammoth Cave National Park and set up at the Cedar Hill Campground, a private campground just inside the park boundaries. We made a run into Cave City for groceries and discovered we were in a dry county of Kentucky and couldn’t stock up on beer. We took the back roads into the park and stopped at the Visitor’s Center, saw a brief video on the geology of the cave and got an overview from a ranger. We were treated to a lovely sunset and listened to the bird chorus which gave way to the insect and frog chorus of the night. RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Campsite at Cedar Hill Rv Park
Campsite at Cedar Hill RV Park

June 8, 2003    There are many caves to visit in this area, so after looking at the descriptions of all the possibilities, we decided to go to Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, a town about 10 miles away. This cave is under the town and the river runs through it. The trail in the cave crosses over the river and, at times of high water, the tours are cancelled. A few more inches and we wouldn’t have been able to take the tour. Across the river, we walked into the Dome Room, a large space with ceilings coated with clay from the silt of the river when the level reached the top. Very few features associated with caves are here because of the relatively young age of the cave as well as the force of the water which, when flooding, would eliminate whatever had taken hold on the walls and floors. The cave is operated by the American Cave Conservation Association and therefore, the focus of the tour was RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Entrance to Hidden River Cave RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Entrance to Hidden River Cave
Entrance to Hidden River Cave
educational. By highlighting the pollution history of the cave and the town (groundwater contamination and poor water treatment), the tour guide was able to bring home the point that everything we do has an effect on everything else. After the tour, we explored the American Cave Museum which had wonderful exhibits about caves, geology and the balance of nature.
At the museum, we found a brochure outlining a scenic drive through Amish country, so off we went. It was lovely-rolling hills through forested areas and then past agricultural lands. Halfway through the drive, the inevitable rains came with a vengeance, but passed quickly. Doug consulted the map and found more back roads so that we could enter the park from the north. As we drove down to the Green River, which you cross on a ferry, the sign read “Ferry Closed” and sure enough, the water was too high from the rains and the ferryman shut down the operation. So we drove around the west side of the park and finally found our way home. The river was so high that the scenic sunset boat ride on the Green River we had tickets for was also RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Green River Ferry
Green River Ferry
RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Sloan's Pond cancelled. Instead, we took the short walk around Sloan’s Pond, one of the few such bodies of water in this area. Most depressions which could hold water have outlets into the limestone below and are sinkholes rather than ponds or lakes in karst country here around Mammoth. RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Sloan's Pond
Sloan's Pond

June 10, 2003    We took our first tour of Mammoth Cave today, one called “The Making of Mammoth,” with an emphasis on geology. It was a 2 mile, two and a half hour trip.
We learned about the limestone through which water flowed, and still flows, creating channels, passages and rooms. Most of the part of the cave we walked through was composed of large spaces-tall and wide. One place, called Fat Man’s Misery, was a narrow, crooked path and you had to lean over, but there was never a sense of claustrophobia, for even here, there was the sense of space since the walls weren’t close. We went down to a depth of about 330 feet, past two lakes, the Dead Sea and Lake Lethe, and looked down on River Styx as it flowed on the lowest level of cave, carving new passages. The tour ended by climbing the “tower,” a high chamber with walls lined with small formations, a waterfall, and dizzying height. The reason there are no spectacular formations in this part of the cave is the solid roof of sandstone that in most places is impervious to water. RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Cave entrance, Making of Mammoth tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Cave entrance, Making of Mammoth tour
Cave entrance, Making of Mammoth tour
RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Making of Mammoth tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Making of Mammoth tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Making of Mammoth tour
Making of Mammoth tour
RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Making of Mammoth tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Making of Mammoth tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Making of Mammoth tour

June 10, 2003    We took the “Frozen Niagara” tour of Mammoth today. The tour began with a short bus ride to another entrance to the cave. This entrance was blasted and fitted with
airtight doors so that the climate could be maintained in the cave with as little impact as necessary. Participants in the tour enter the first door in small groups and then wait for the door to close before the second door is opened. Once we were all inside we proceeded through a narrow corridor, down many, many stairs, past huge vertical shafts and pits. Once down, we entered a large room and sat on benches while the ranger explained, simply, how the cave was formed and answered questions. Then we climbed up many, many stairs to a place where the sandstone roof had weakened and water was allowed through. Here were wonderful stalactites and stalagmites, columns, and walls of drapery, one of which looks like a frozen waterfall, thus the name of the tour. RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour
Frozen Niagara tour
RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour
Frozen Niagara tour
RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour
RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour
Frozen Niagara tour
RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Frozen Niagara tour
After a picnic lunch on the grass outside the Visitor’s Center, we took the trail down to where River Styx seeps out in a spring into the Green River and walked back up on a different trail past Dixon Cave which was fenced off and there was no signs telling what its significance is. We surmised that it was an entrance into Mammoth at one time. After we had some ice cream, we headed home just in time to beat the rain. RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - River Styx trail RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - River Styx emerging from the Mammoth Cave
River Styx trail River Styx emerging from the Mammoth Cave
RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Doug, along River Styx trail RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Spiderwort RV trip photo: Mammoth Cave National Park - Spiderwort
Doug, along River Styx trail Spiderwort

June 11, 2003    It began raining about 11:30 last night and continued off and on all night. We awoke to rain as well. After a leisurely morning, we went into Cave City for some errands and came back here to do domestic things like laundry.

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