May 31, 2009

Mammoth Cave

While enroute to the Kentucky Horse Park, we passed the turnoff for Mammoth Cave, and decided a quick tour was in order, since neither Kim or I had been here before. Having done the three hour tour out in Carlsbad last year, we knew that about twenty minutes of the holes in the rocks would be enough!

Mammoth is the largest documented cave system in the world with over 365 miles currently explored and mapped. Experts estimate the the cave system could contain another 300 miles or so - amazing. Clubs, college and scientific groups are allowed to explore it's depths by permit, but individuals must use the tours.

The short tour enters through this large opening just below the Visitor Center, one of several access points in the area. As we walked down the steps, the cool 58 degree air was initially welcome, but required a sleeve as our journey continued.

A hundred yards or so into the cave, the Ranger guide spots a tiny bat clinging to the ceiling just above our heads! Remnants of old saltpeter mining operations litter the cave system. Mammoth was an important source during early wars for the much needed component of gunpowder.

The lighting was very dim within the system, so picture taking was limited. I guess the most interesting aspect of this "dry" cave (lacking the crystal formations of the more impressive Carlsbad) is just the vastness of the rooms and the Mammoth system as a whole. So, if you're in the area, it's definitely worth the short tour.

For more information and better pictures click on this link: