Over Memorial Day weekend, my family took a break from our busy lives and escaped to the country.
Well, we rented a cabin in a golf community on a farm in Russell Springs, Kentucky. It’s complicated and confusing why there are cabins out on a pasture farm but it was a nice escape.
The purpose of the location was to prepare for our tour of Mammoth Cave. It was another national park to check off our US National Parks bucket list.
Many people have never heard about Mammoth Cave National Park. It’s the longest cave system in the world stretching almost 400 miles with more passages unexplored. On the surface of the park is covered with calm trees like a normal wooded park. Underneath is a chilling, dark and massive limestone labyrinth of narrow, wet and cold passages that leads into the unknown. Rumors have it that Mammoth Cave is one of two most haunted caves in the US. I can see that especially when reading about the tombs and skeletons found in the early days of discovering the cave. Thousands of visitors come to Mammoth Cave not to hunt ghosts but to tour the many paths deep in the darkness.
We took the Domes and Dripstones tour. This was a guided tour that lasted two hours with 150 other people. A bus took us to a remote location in the woods. We entered through this mysterious door like something right out of the TV show Lost. You would never know there was a massive cave underneath the thick wooded area. You can feel the cold creepy air surrounding the cave entrance unsure of what lies beneath.
Inside the cave was a very long and narrow passageway made of 280 metal steps down and around oddly shaped tunnels. In some areas, I had to duck my head, suck in my belly and stick my bootie out just to squeeze my 5’4 semi curvy body through. The tour is not recommended for anyone with claustrophobia or heart conditions with limit physical abilities. Also, people who are larger (300 lbs. +) may have a hard time getting down to the bottom of the cave. Breathing was a little difficult because the air was more dense. The walk up was minimal. There were stairs and slight inclines that leads back up to the surface.
The bottom of the cave is massive. There were dramatic collections of domes, pits and large boulders and a short tour through long stalactites and stalagmites. The leading tour guide turns on the light as we approach each section of the cave while the end tour guide turns off the lights. I can’t imagine walking through the cave in pitch darkness during a power failure. They say that it has happened a few times. When it does, there are hidden lanterns they can use. That sounds like a Halloween tour to me.
Over all, the trip to Mammoth Cave National Park was fun and educational. The tours are great but I’m not a fan of crowds in a photographically rich location. It’s the selfish photographer in me speaking. If I could have it my way, I would take a small group tour for about 4-6 hours to really appreciate the natural environment of a historic cave. If you are a cave enthusiast, I recommend booking all of the tours. It is possible if you plan early and spread it throughout the weekend. Maybe I’ll save that idea for next time. Oh, and bring a jacket.