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 in front of the trees.
1 Mammoth Cave Pkwy, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259

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.

Door to a Mammoth Cave Tours in a concrete block room.

Mammoth Cave Tours

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

Mammoth Cave Tour pathway through the cave.
Historic Tour

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

Looking down a shaft on one of the Mammoth Cave Tours
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. 

Walkway through the cave with fencing
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.

Dark cave with stairway
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. 

Wall of a cave on one of the Mammoth Cave Tours
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!

Low ceiling area in the cave with a sign that says Fat Man's Misery
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.

Signthat says Historic Entrance Trail

The entrance to this tour is near the visitor center.

Sign pointing towards the historic entrance

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 climbing up stairs in the 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!

People climbing up the stairs leading out of the cave

Domes and Dripstones Tour

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

Walkway through the cave with rails on both sides

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

Side of a green bus that says Mammoth Cave National Park

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

Dripstones in the cave

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

Walkway going up in the 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.

Walkway in the cave with a low ceiling towards a set of stairs.

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

Walkway in a cave

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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