10 Fun Things To Do in Mammoth Cave National Park (+Photos)

Last summer, our family decided to take a group vacation, and along the way, we decided to stop at Mammoth Cave National Park in the great state of Kentucky! Known as a peculiar and grand place, Mammoth Cave has a mysterious system of passageways and caves that will pique your sense of adventure and imagination.

After my visit during the summer, I was shocked at how much there was to do at this historic location. Whether you’re returning after a recent visit or if this is your first time at the cave, I’ve compiled a list of activities you won’t want to miss when visiting Mammoth Cave National Park.

Take a Mammoth Cave Tour

Mammoth Cave Tour

One of the first activities on our list when we arrived was taking a tour of Mammoth Passage. A leisurely tour and a little over an hour long, this tour is suitable for tourists of all ages and is affordable at $9 per child and $11 per adult.

We decided to take the Mammoth Passage tour because we wanted to learn more about the rich cultural heritage of the cave. During our tour, we were able to see one of the most well-known cave rooms, the Rotunda. This cave room had intersecting passages: Audubon Avenue, Broadway, and Houchins Narrows.

In the Rotunda, we were also able to see mining equipment from the 1800s, such as wooden pipes and wooden frames that held a water pump. One unique fact we learned while taking this tour was that the caves once helped house tuberculosis patients during the 1800s.

Pro Tip: With many tours available, I suggest booking ahead of time since they book rather quickly. Each tour has various ranges of difficulty and length, and additional handicap-accessible tours are available.

Explore the Mammoth Cave Visitor’s Center

Mammoth Cave Visitor’s Center

Each tour you take departs from the visitor’s center, and this is also where you can use the restrooms and purchase items from the gift shop. Before we began our tour, we walked around the visitor’s center to learn about the history of Mammoth Cave.

While walking around, we noticed a kid-friendly cave hole for littleones to explore that involved climbing from one room to another, a history video to watch, and several interactive exhibits.

On our way out, we stopped by the gift shop, where I couldn’t pass up making a must-have-pressed penny for any travel destination and buying a few new stickers for my hydrating water bottle.

Walk the Hiking Trails

Hiking Trails

From the visitor’s center, we made our way to the southern part of the park, where several short hiking trails combine to create a longer hike. We began at the Engine No.4 trail, making our way to the Historic Entrance trail and River Styx Spring trail (I’ll discuss this spot more later in the article).

However, our favorite trail among the bunch was Sunset Point trail, which is handicap-accessible and kid-friendly. At only 0.3 miles, this flat boardwalk trail is tourist-friendly and great for beginner hikers.

Pro Tip: During the summer, I highly recommend the Echo River Springs Loop trail, which has a mostly paved trail with gorgeous scenery and is a mile long.

Explore Several Dining Options

Cave City

After working up an appetite from hiking, we returned to the visitor’s center, where we found a concession stand with soft pretzels to die for! It lived up to its name, “The Mammoth Pretzel”.

You’ll find additional dining options in Cave City, where restaurants serve everything from sandwiches to BBQ and Mexican food. Since it was such a hot day, after devouring a massive mammoth pretzel, we went to Cave City Coffee & Creamery, where I decided to cool off with a cup of chocolate ice cream.

Pro Tip: If you’re in a rush, Caver’s Camp Store offers on-the-go snacks and food in addition to camping essentials.

Take a Ride on the Green River Ferry

Green River Ferry

After refueling, instead of taking the bridge, we decided to utilize the last rural ferry in America, the Green River ferry. Just before reaching the ferry, we stopped at the parking area to learn more about its history. Before your trip, I highly recommend calling the ferry hotline to ensure it’s in operation before you go.

The ferry runs daily except for Christmas, during bad weather, and when water levels are high. Calling the ferry hotline will also provide more information on what types of vehicles are permitted during specific conditions.

Visit the River Styx Spring

River Styx Spring

One thing that piqued my interest about Mammoth Cave is that it has underground rivers that run through it, one of them being the River Styx. With a roundtrip of 1.2 miles and an elevation of 250 feet, you’ll catch a glimpse of Green River and its historic entrance on your way to the River Styx Spring.

You can easily find this trail location behind the Mammoth Cave Visitor’s Center, where you’ll walk down the paved path, go to the historic entrance, and read the easy-to-follow signs that lead to the River Styx Spring.

Take in Views at the Green River Bluffs

Green River Bluffs

During our hikes, we explored the forest through the gorgeous Kentucky hills. The trail displayed beautiful views of the Green River Bluffs and surrounding areas. At roughly 1.3 miles, you can combine this trail with others if you want to do a longer hike, which we decided to do.

Located at the Mammoth Cave picnic area, there’s a road at the parking lot of the visitor’s center, and you can travel up the hills to the picnic area to park your vehicle. After the hike, we descended the large wooden staircase to return to the parking lot.

Visit Your Kid’s Favorite Attractions

Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo

After our hike, since we had little ones with us during the trip, we decided to head over to Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo. If you have young ones, I highly recommend this tourist attraction because it was a hit! Here, we fed and pet the wallabies and kangaroos and got to feed sheep, goats, and more!

However, if you do decide to visit this attraction, I recommend visiting earlier in the day because later in the day, most of the animals are full and won’t feed. Afterward, we headed to Dinosaur World in Cave City, where we played on a dinosaur-themed playground.

Go Horseback Riding at Jesse James Riding Stables

Horseback Riding

At Mammoth Cave, you can also go to the Jesse James Riding Stables, where you can ride horseback. Anyone over six can ride the trails for $30, while children ages 2-5 can ride with a parent for an extra $5.

Located in the same area, there’s also a tour of Outlaw Cave, where you can take or play a game of mini golf.

Pro Tip: Set plenty of time aside for horseback riding, as it’s a 2-mile trail that lasts approximately 1 hour.

Go Ziplining or Complete an Aerial Course

One of the last activities we decided to do during our visit was to complete an aerial course. With different difficulty challenges, the Aerial Challenge course had a whopping 27 challenges you could complete. I didn’t notice an age limit on challenges, but from my view, it looked like kids and adults were both participating.

There’s also an area where you can do a zipline tour while being up to 100 feet above ground. My favorite part about ziplining was that they had a designated area for children who needed to be 35-85 pounds to zipline.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *