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The Ruins of Karnak of Mammoth Dome in Mammoth Cave
Courtesy National Park Service

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park

Written by Julie Greiner
Mammoth Cave National Park has the world's most extensive system of underground passageways. The landscape is multi-leveled cave full of pits and domes, rivers and diverse collection of animals adapted to life in the cave. Over 335 miles of passageways have been found to date - but the end has not been reached. The Park is under the jurisdiction of our National Park Service of the Department of Interior and is one of our most treasured natural phenomenals.

History of Mammoth Cave

Through the years the Mammoth Cave has served many purposes in our civilization's history. Native Americans used the Mammoth Cave some 4,000
years ago as their habitats. Mummies, clothing and well-preserved artifacts have been discovered in the cave, that tell a story of our history. Exploration began in the 1790s by modern man. Nitrate was mined from the cave during the War of 1812, for gun powder. The cave is now a very popular tourist attraction.

Water has been eating at at the limestone for millions of years, carving out the passageways. The lower passages are still being enlarged by the flowing waters of Echo River and the upper
The Historic Natural Entrance to Mammoth Cave
passages of the cave were hollowed out as long as 10 million years ago; and they are dry today. The water has decorated the cave by making its way to the floor or just to the ceiling. Familiar stalactites are formed on the ceilings and stalagmites have formed on the floor. There are examples of flowstone, draperies and helicites. The gypsum flowers formed in the dry passages almost look alive. Temperatures in the cave vary from 45 degrees at night to 100 degrees in the daytime.

Mammoth Cave National Park Grounds

The contrasting aboveground world of the park includes forests of oak and hickory,
the Green and Nolin rivers, rugged hillsides. There are approximately 60 miles of back-country hiking trails on the north side of the park and 10 miles of trails on the south side of the park. The paved Heritage Trail begins near the Sunset Point Motor Lodge and is lighted for evening use.

Green River in Mammoth Cave National Park

The Miss Green River II offers scenic boat cruises along the Green River. Canoe rentals are available for Canoeists to navigate down the Green and Nolin rivers. Fishing, horseback riding and nature trails are all
Park Visitors Cruise Down the Green River Aboard the Miss Green River Boat II
part of the Mammoth Cave National Park scene.
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Last Updated: September 23, 2015