Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the longest known cave system- the most extensive in the world. No known cave in the world is even half as long. There is evidence that humans explored Mammoth Cave 4,000 years ago, but it wasn’t until 1798 that the cave was rediscovered. Mammoth Cave was established as a national park in 1941, but it was a tourist attraction as early as 1816. This makes Mammoth Cave the second-oldest tourist side in the United States, just after Niagara Falls. The park is open year-round, and the cave maintains a cool 54-degrees all year. There are more than a dozen cave tours offered daily, each ranging in difficulty and distance. The park also offers specialty tours, such as lantern-lit and photography or geology-focused tours. 

We booked the Domes and Dripstones tour, which is one of the harder tours offered at the park. The Domes and Dripstones tour begins with 280 stairs down into a sink hole, then passes through huge domes, large canyon passageways, and ends in the dripstone section known as The Frozen Niagara. I will confirm the tour ascends and descends hundreds of stairs and steep inclines. Throughout the tour you learn about the natural formation of the cave. There are currently 426 mapped miles, but they are still finding more miles every year—last year they added 8 miles, and an additional 6 miles this year. While on our tour, we found out they would be shutting down the Domes and Dripstones tour in 2 weeks (we visited in mid-October 2022) to pave the dirt path that’s walked on throughout the tour. They estimate it will be closed for at least a year to complete the renovations.

After we left Mammoth Cave, things got interesting… Every road trip is usually memorable in its own way, right? Well, this one wasn’t any different. We started noticing some car trouble with our rental on our way to Mammoth Cave, but it got worse after we left. The car would start shaking around 50 mph, and when it neared 70 mph, it would be so shaky that it was difficult to steer. After many phone calls and a detour to the Louisville Airport, we were able to exchange our rental. Thankfully, over the past 5 years with all our travels, we’ve really had pretty good luck.

Something special about this road trip was that along the way we would be connecting with family and friends. Before we left Nashville, we met up with our dear friend who used to work at the hospital with us. Even though it was for less than two hours, it was so nice to give her some big hugs and have breakfast together. Then after leaving Mammoth Cave, we headed towards Columbus, OH where we would be staying at my cousin’s house for the night. This was really a fun way to break up our drive and reconnect with loved ones. In Columbus, we enjoyed a home cooked meal, a back porch thunderstorm, and lots of doggy cuddles 😊.

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