Thursday, June 02, 2011
Mammoth Cave National Park
Since we were going right by Mammoth Cave National Park to visit with friends, we decided to stop in and take at least one tour of the cave. I still find that taking decent pictures in these large dark spaces difficult, but I keep trying. A new addition to the tours is the requirement that you agree to a foot soaking on the way out of the cave. There is some kind of fungus found in caves in a wide region. They are calling it the bat white nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats since 2006. Since these bats are very important to the cave environment and to the well being of the rest of us, they are taking these steps to try and prevent the spread of the infection.
We have been here several times over the years. We are staying in Cave City and it is almost like time has stood still here, at least in some ways. There are no new construction projects or high tech tourist gimmicks to get you to spend your money. There are still the attractions that you might have seen in the 1950’s. Dinosaur Park, old fashioned souvenir shops, classic motels, and even a place that offers to let you sleep in a wigwam.
We are staying in a newer campground –Cave Country RV campground. It has reasonable size sites with level spots, full hookups and free WI-FI and friendly owners.
The park itself holds the world’s largest cave system. It fact, if the next two largest caves were placed within it, there would still be over 100 miles of cave to spare. To date there are known to be 313 miles of cave tunnels and they are still exploring. It is certainly not the most attractive cave, but its sheer size is so impressive, you forget about the rest. We took the Mammoth Passage tour which takes you to some of the larger rooms.
The cave has had human visitors for at least 3000 years. They know this because they have found physical evidence of their presence on the form of artifacts and some mummified human remains. During the war of 1812 the cave was mined for elements to make black powder and they used a water system using hollowed out tree trunks, which still remain in the cave today.
In addition to the cave system itself, the park is over 52000 acres with miles of hiking and biking trails. It also offers lots of opportunity for waterborne exploration, as well.