Explore the subterranean marvels and above-ground thrills in the heart of the Blue Grass State
Do underground rivers, stalagmites and stalactites make you happy? What about geologic formations that date back millions of years? What about a cave system that cuts through granite 200 to 500 feet beneath the surface of the earth and runs for about 400 miles? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to plan your next vacation in Cave Country, Kentucky.
Visitors to Cave Country are delighted to find a handful of caves to explore, each having a unique geology and a compelling story. You can explore the Diamond Caverns, Outlaw Cave, Onyx Cave, Hidden River Cave, Lost River Cave and the granddaddy of them all, Mammoth Cave.
Mammoth Cave lies in the center of the Mammoth Cave National Park. While you're standing in line to enter the cave, the door will open and a cool breeze will blow across your face. The temperature remains a constant 60 degrees year-round, so be sure to take a jacket, especially if it's hot outside when you visit, because it will take some time to acclimate your body to the dramatic temperature change.
When you go on one of the many tours at Mammoth Cave, you won't see sky for hours. Instead, you'll see beautiful rock formations artistically lighted to bring out their best features. You'll have the opportunity to learn how the earliest Americans passed through the arch opening over 4,000 years ago and used the cave for protection from the elements and marauders. You'll hear amazing stories and see beautiful geological formations. The one thing that will fascinate you and take your attention will be the spectacular size of the place. You'll see how dark it really is when the park rangers turn the lights off for just a few seconds.
Mammoth Cave will play with your senses and you'll love every minute of it.
Mammoth Cave National Park
The Mammoth Cave National Park was formed to protect all the caves including Mammoth Cave, in the area. At the National Park you can of course take cave tours, but you can also hike on 28 different trails that wind through the park, bike on any of the paved roads within the park or, if you have a mountain bike, cruise on the unpaved administrative roads. There also are 60 miles of trails along the Green River. Speaking of the Green River, visitors can canoe, kayak and fish there or in the neighboring Nolin River, both of which flow for about 30 miles through the park. These two rivers offer anglers a special delight because bluegill, crappie, catfish, bass, perch and muskies are in abundant supply.
Other Cave Tours
Although Mammoth Cave is by far the biggest cave in the area, there are other caverns that offer really interesting subterranean views in their own right. For instance, the Lost River Cave has the largest opening of any cave in the United States and is Kentucky's only underground river tour. Yes, you'll travel the cave in a boat.
Another must see is the Kentucky Caverns and Kentucky Down Under. Included in the Kentucky Caverns Tour is an Australian themed animal park.
Be sure to stop at the Diamond Cave that has been offering tours to the public for over 150 years. This beautiful cave has cave drapery lining the halls, along with flowstone and of course stalagmites and stalactites.
Outlaw Cave, located at the Kentucky Action Park in Cave City, is famous for its outlaw past. Legend has it that Jesse James, famous bank robber of the 1880s, used this cave as a hideout along with his gang of thieves.
Onyx Cave is a small cave that has spectacular onyx formations. This cave doesn't have many steps and only takes about 30 minutes to tour, but it will be worth it for the memories that will be made, so make sure you bring your camera.
Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum is the last stop on your cave tour. The cave and museum are located just a few minutes from Mammoth Cave. You enter the cave through the museum where you will discover the history of Mammoth Cave, learn about bats and understand how ground water works. After you have visited the museum, take a tour of the cave. You'll hear why the cave was closed for 50 years and see the remains of a turn of the century hydroelectric system.
With all these caves in one place, it would stand to reason that there might be a couple of fossils lying around. The kids and grandkids or anyone who likes extinct giant reptiles will find Dinosaur World absolutely fascinating. You'll meet up with life-sized raptors, brachiosaurs and T-Rex as you walk through the park. A highlight for kids ages 3 to 12 is the fossil dig, where budding archeologists can actually dig for dinosaur bones. They can even keep three of the bones they find.
National Corvette Museum
When you're finally done looking at caves, you definitely need to check out the National Corvette Museum. It's a few miles down the road at Bowling Green and it's definitely worth the drive. The 70 corvettes on display are a must-see for any car enthusiast.
For More Information:
Kentucky's Cave Country
Kentucky Department of Travel