Mammoth Cave Tours

Mammoth Cave National Park is the home of the world’s most extensive known cave system. Currently, 426 miles of passages have been mapped. Fortunately, there are a variety of Mammoth Cave tours to experience the cave.

Mammoth Cave National Park Sign. Sign also says "A World Heritage Site and And International Biosphere Reserve"

Wait… does this mean I must signup for one of the Mammoth Cave tours to go inside?

YES! You must have a tour ticket to enter the cave.

Entrance to the Mammoth Cave Tour Domes and Dripstones entrance. Door in concrete block structure in the side of the hill.

Mammoth Cave Tours

There are lots of options for Mammoth Cave tours. Different lengths and difficulty levels are available.

Paved pathway in large passage on the Mammoth Cave Tours - Historic Tour
Historic Tour

Don’t wait until the last minute! Space is limited for Mammoth Cave tours, so purchase your tour tickets in advance!

Interior of Mammoth Cave
Historic Tour

We only had one day to spend on our trip at Mammoth Cave. So we picked 2 tours: The Historic Tour and the Domes and Dripstones Tour. 

Rock draperies over walkway by fence
Domes and Dripstones Tour

Getting Ready for a Mammoth Cave Tour

Choosing the Right Tour: The National Park Service offers many choices of Mammoth Cave tours. These vary from .25 miles to 4 miles in length and are rated easy to difficult.

Stairway leading up in Mammoth Cave
Historic Tour

When selecting a tour, read the descriptions closely because some tours include the same areas.

Clothing: Mammoth Cave averages about 54°F. This temperature did not feel cold to me. A coat would be too hot, considering all the stairs. I recommend wearing a long sleeve t-shirt or short sleeves with a very light jacket. 

Cave wall in Mammoth Cave
Historic Tour

Footwear: Wear good, sturdy shoes. (I wore my favorite Merrells.) Leave your flip-flops or strappy sandals at home. On many Mammoth Cave tours, you’ll be climbing stairs, so you want your shoes to stay on your feet!

Sign that says Fat Mans Misery inside the cave.
Historic Tour

Photography: No flash photography is allowed in the cave. Also, the NPS doesn’t allow tripods or monopods. Since there is low lighting, I found it better to use my phone camera rather than lugging around the Canon.

The Restroom: Most tours don’t have a restroom, so plan accordingly! 

Mammoth Cave Historic Tour

We started our day with the 10 am Historic Tour. This 2-hour tour gives visitors a glimpse of what the first explorers experienced when they entered the cave.

Sign showing the entrance of the historic entrance trail of the Mammoth Cave Tours.

The entrance to this tour is near the visitor center.

Sign showing the direction of the historic entrance to Mammoth Cave

While there are some tighter spaces, there are also broad passages and rooms. This Mammoth Cave tour is about 2 miles and is rated moderate.

People on stairs climbing up in a cave

Are there stairs? YES! According to the NPS, there are 540.

I counted 579, including walking up to the restaurant, an essential stop after a cave tour!

Stairs exiting Mammoth Cave with people climbing up

Domes and Dripstones Tour

Our 2-hour Domes and Dripstones Tour was at 2:45 pm, allowing us time for lunch.

Pathway with drapery formations on the Domes and Dripstones Mammoth Cave Tour.

Guests must ride a bus to get to the entrance of the Domes and Dripstones tours.

Side of the green bus that says Mammoth Cave National Park

This tour is unique. It includes drapery formations at Frozen Niagra along with stalactites and stalagmites.

Drip cave formations in Mammoth Cave

And the stairs? 500, according to the National Park Service. So it is rated difficult.

Stairs leading up Mammoth Cave

Clautrophobics beware! This tour begins with a descent on narrow twisty steep stairs. It has more tight passages than the Historic Tour. Guests often must walk single file.

Child walking through cave passage towards stairs in Mammoth Cave

We also saw lots of crickets on this Mammoth Cave tour. So if you have orthopterophobia, you might skip this one.

Passage on the Domes and Dripstones Mammoth Cave Tours

Mammoth Cave National Park is a great place to visit any time of year. No matter the weather, it’s comfortable and dry in the cave. And with all of the options for Mammoth Cave tours, I bet you’ll find one that fits your party.

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