Massive Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, USA
The Mammoth Cave National Park can be found within the state of Kentucky, USA, and it contains a large part of the famous Mammoth Cave, which is the longest cave system in the world. Even though some may be inclined to believe that the cave system includes the remains of mammoths, its name was actually given in regards to its massive size. As for the park itself, it was established officially in 1941 in order to preserve this cave system, and it later became a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1981) as well as an international Biosphere Reserve (1990).
The park occupies a total area of 52,830 acres, most of which can be found within Edmonson County. While the cave system is still being explored to this day, it presently includes about 400 miles of surveyed passages, some of which can be visited by guests via several guided tours. The most popular tours are the ones that feature electric lighting systems, since they include attractions such as the Frozen Niagara, Fat Man’s Misery and Grand Avenue. According to preference, patience and available time, visitors can spend from 1 to 6 hours exploring these incredible passageways. However, should guests desire to enjoy a more authentic experience, they are invited to grab some paraffin lamps and light their own way through some alternative tunnels that are otherwise completely dark. Last but not least, guests can embark on a thrilling adventure as part of the so-called “wild” tours, which offer great opportunities to explore the undeveloped parts of the cave system, more specifically the dusty and muddy areas. All of these tours are definitely thrilling and entertaining at the same time, but since we are basically talking about underground hikes, some visitors might find the whole experience quite tiresome. Nonetheless, the caves are visited by about 390,000 tourists each year, and unfortunate incidents are very rarely recorded.
As expected, the caves are mostly inhabited by bats, including the Little and Big Brown bat, the Gray Bat and the Indiana Bat. Other animals that call the Mammoth Cave their home include the cave salamander, 2 types of eyeless cavefish, a type of cave shrimp and a type of cave crayfish.
If you are not particularly afraid of the dark and of tight spaces, then you should definitely take the time to explore the vast underground passageways of the Mammoth Cave system. The experience delivers an appropriate dose of thrill, excitement and useful information, and once you will reach the surface again, you will definitely have a much deeper appreciation for natural light.