Mammoth Cave National Park
OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure
Welcome to the audio-described version of Mammoth Cave National Park's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Mammoth Cave visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 49 minutes and is divided into 18 sections. This section, section 1, as well as section 2, cover brief overviews of this audio-described brochure and Mammoth Cave. Sections 3 through 9 cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding Mammoth Cave's ecosystem, early human use of the cave, tips for planning ahead, and a map of the underground cave. Sections 10 through 18 cover the back of the brochure and include information on geography, amenities, accessibility, a close-up map of the visitor center area, and an aerial view of the 53,000 acre park.
OVERVIEW: Mammoth Cave
Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the longest known cave in the world. Over 400 miles of Mammoth Cave passageways are located across 53,000 acres in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. It is within the Department of the Interior as part of the National Park Service. The park is situated 30 miles Northeast of Bowling Green, Kentucky, 90 miles south of Louisville, Kentucky, and 90 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee. This park, established in 1941, is one of several national parks in the Eastern half of the United States. Each year, nearly 700,000 visitors come to enjoy the unique experiences had at Mammoth Cave National Park. We invite you to explore the park's extensive cave system and cultural heritage. Feel the smooth limestone rock inside of Fat Man's Misery, a narrow passageway found on the Historic Cave Tour. Listen to the silence of the cave as cool temperatures surround you. Take a hike and hear one of the ten thousand species of bugs buzzing around Kentucky. For those seeking to learn more about the park during their visit, a braille brochure and tactile displays can be found at the visitor center. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "Contact Information" sections at the end of this audio-describe brochure.
OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure
The front of the brochure includes photographs of the cave, an illustration of rain water and ground water movement, pictures of early explorers, and a map of the underground cave area. Most photos are in color unless indicated as black and white.
The text explains geologic processes above and below ground, early human use of the cave, and tips for trip planning.
IMAGE: Interior of Mammoth Cave
Photograph of a Mammoth-sized room inside of Mammoth Cave. This room is 1/2 acre in size and is called The Rotunda. The dimly lit room is surrounded by grey rock with a vast gently domed ceiling. The focus of the photo is the park ranger with forty visitors who all appear to be tiny inside the massive room. Behind the tour group there is a large and mysterious rectangular tunnel that leads to absolute darkness. The visitors stand behind shiny handrails that protect historic artifacts in the center of the large room, they wear long pants and jackets. The park ranger interprets the artifacts for the visitors as the remnants of an old salt peter works operation.
Photograph of Rotunda
TEXT and IMAGES: The Eyeless Cave Fish and Cave CrayfishThere are 2 images.
IMAGE 1: Eyeless Cave Fish
Perhaps the most unusual fish in Mammoth Cave National Park is the species known as an Eyeless Cave Fish. The fish is the size of an index finger with translucent fins protruding from its back and underside. There is a translucent tail protruding from the back end of the fish. It has adapted to light less environments by ceasing to grow eye structures and unnecessary skin pigments. This makes its body pinkish and translucent in color. The internal organs of the fish can sometimes be seen through its exterior.
A picture of a Cave Crayfish, a small cave-dwelling animal. The Cave Crayfish is translucent with a slightly yellow tint. It has two arms with large claws at each end and multiple legs on each side. It has two, long antenna to navigate through habitats ranging from tiny streams to dry cave environments.
Many cave creatures living in darkness are eyeless with no coloring pigments. While sightless, most have sensory systems that mentally picture their environments. Shown here are the Eyeless Cave Fish and the Cave Crayfish.
TEXT: Above and Below: One Ecosystem Linked by Water
Mammoth Cave National Park is known as a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. However, beneath the sandstone and shale ridges of Mammoth Cave National Park lies the most extensive cave system on Earth. After 5,000 years of intermittent exploration, the full extent of this water-formed labyrinth remains unknown. With over 400 miles of surveyed passageways, Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave in the world. How long might it be? Geologists think there could be 1,000 miles of undiscovered passageways.
This vast cave system holds one of the world’s most diverse cave ecosystems. About 160 forms of life can be found in Mammoth Cave. Most are quite small. Some use the cave only as a haven, while others are such specialized cave dwellers that they can live nowhere else. All depend on energy from the surface. Life in the cave is not separate from the rest of the park’s natural communities. It is an extension of the larger biological whole, whose diversity and abundance are preserved in this place. To tour the cave and not explore the park’s surface trails and waterways is to gain but half of the total picture here.
The rugged, forested hill country of Mammoth Cave National Park is sanctuary to an array of wildlife. Deer and wild turkey frequently feed near roadsides, and 80 miles of park hiking trails provide access to the diverse life of the eastern hardwood forest. The Green River further enhances the variety of scenery and habitat. Running 27 miles through the park, the Green River is one of North America’s most biologically diverse rivers. This abundance has drawn humans to this region for nearly 10,000 years.
Prehistoric peoples explored 19 or more miles of Mammoth Cave 5,000 years ago. Archeological evidence shows that these early cavers collected crystals and other salts in the cave. Cave exploration ceased 2,000 years ago, not to resume until the cave was rediscovered around 1798.
Mammoth Cave played an important role at the very start of American tourism. As an attraction, the cave predates all national parks. Publicized in the War of 1812, the “mammoth” cave of Kentucky became an attraction by 1816. With the early scenic national parks, Mammoth Cave helped define our national identity in the 1800's, when a young United States sought status among world powers. Wonders of nature were our great treasures. Big was beautiful: Mammoth Cave, Grand Canyon, and Giant Sequoia. These superlatives still live up to what Ralph Waldo Emerson once called “the brag” about them.
TEXT: A World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve
Mammoth Cave was authorized as a national park in 1926 and fully established in 1941. Only 40 miles of passageway had been mapped then. As surveying techniques improved, great strides were made in describing and understanding the cave system’s overwhelming extent. Several park caves were shown to be connected, and we now know the cave system extends well beyond the national park boundary. The park was named a World Heritage Site in 1981 and became the core area of an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990. With its 53,000 surface acres and underlying cave ecosystem, Mammoth Cave National Park is an international treasure.
But national park status and international recognition do not guarantee the continued protection and integrity of the natural systems of Mammoth Cave National Park. The park is not a self-contained system. Research shows that the cave and resident ecosystems belong to regional ground water basins in the much larger Green River basin. Groundwater originates far beyond the park boundary and the quality can be seriously degraded under high-water conditions. Air quality studies detect ozone at concentrations that can damage vegetation. To preserve these world-class cave, forest, and river ecosystems for future generations, we must work together to protect the region’s air and watersheds.
TEXT: Clean Water Needed
Limestone underlies the Mammoth Cave region. As rainwater infiltrates the soil, it picks up small amounts of carbon dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide reacts with the water to form a weak carbonic acid, making the groundwater mildly acidic. Like most major caves, Mammoth Cave was formed by the slow dissolution of limestone by groundwater. Animals living in the cave depend on the quantity and quality of this water.
Eroded limestone landscapes—called karst topography—are typified by the Mammoth Cave area. Sediments of a shallow sea covering this region 350 million years ago formed the limestone as highly soluble layers over a 70-million-year period.
INFOGRAPHIC: Rainfall Cycle
This illustration depicts how rainfall flows into sinkholes where underground rivers create cave passages.
Rain on the sinkhole plain southeast of the park boundaries. There are many cavities, also known as sinkholes, on the terrain which promote cave formation when it rains. Rainwater collects on the surface then turns to groundwater and flows beneath the surface to dissolve sandstone and limestone layers. When the rock dissolves, tall vertical shafts form. The rainwater travels through the tall vertical shafts to the cave's underground river. The underground river channel flows Northward and empties into the Green River. This process results in the water table slowly lowering over time.
Rain falling outside the park travels below ground and keeps on sculpting Mammoth Cave. Animals that live in the cave depend on the quantity and quality of this water. Human activities outside the park that pollute this water supply threaten the cave and its life.
NPS and Robert Tope
TEXT: Caves Still Forming
Over time, as groundwater dissolves the limestone, it forms underground streams. These streams converge, as surface streams do, and create Mammoth Cave’s underground rivers. Over Mammoth Cave’s geologic history the Green River, the region’s master stream, has deeply carved and entrenched itself in its valley. Cave streams responded by creating younger, lower routes and abandoning older and higher channels, creating a network of cave passages. At depths of up to 450 feet below the surface, cave streams are still forming passages today.
As the cave formed, many aquatic species from surface waters slowly adapted to cave habitats. Several evolved as the specialized animals now found in cave streams. These cave biological communities are part of a nutrient-poor ecosystem that needs excellent water quality to survive.
The geological character that creates Mammoth Cave also threatens the cave’s ecology today. Rainwater turns to groundwater and flows readily through the cave’s aquatic habitats, but so do pollutants like human waste, agricultural run-off, hazardous spills on roadways, and oil and gas drilling wastes. These are easily washed into cave streams.
Because most of the cave’s groundwater originates beyond the park, the Biosphere Reserve boundary encompasses Mammoth Cave’s entire watershed. Today the park and its neighbors work together through the Biosphere Reserve Program to help better protect the cave while promoting environmentally sustainable agricultural, industrial, and business practices outside the park.
TEXT: Human Use of the Cave and Its Resources
Over 10,000 years ago, Paleo-Indians hunted animals in the Green River valley near Mammoth Cave. From 5,000 to 2,000 years ago, Late Archaic and Early Woodland Indians explored and mined minerals from Mammoth and other caves. Artifacts these earliest explorers left included cane reed torches they used to light their way into distant parts of the cave and are preserved in drier passageways.
European American settlers came to the Green River valley in the late 1790's. Like native people before them, the newcomers found uses for Mammoth Cave. The cave served as a mine for saltpeter, key to the manufacture of gunpowder. Before the War of 1812 enslaved workers mined large quantities of this mineral.
By war’s end, Mammoth Cave’s fame had grown. Around the year 1816, people started to visit the cave. In 1838 Stephen Bishop and Mat and Nick Bransford, enslaved persons owned and leased by the cave’s owners, became renowned guides.
Bishop discovered many miles of cave. He was first to cross the previously impassable Bottomless Pit and the first to see the cave stream’s natural residents, called Eyeless Cave Fish. The Bransfords and their descendants were guides at Mammoth Cave for over 100 years.
IMAGE: Stephen Bishop
A black and white oval portrait illustration showing Stephen Bishop, a middle aged African American man gazing calmly straight forward. His mustache is well groomed, and his hair is combed neatly on the top and curls tightly on the sides, ending at the bottom of his ears. He is dressed well, a light colored shirt, dark jacket with lapels, and a patterned handkerchief wrapped around his high collar several times.
Stephen Bishop began guiding visitors at age 17 in 1838. He was the first to explore many miles of the vast cave; he also became a knowledgeable storyteller, and a legendary cave guide over the course of 20 years. During most of these years he was enslaved, in the last year of his life he gained freedom for himself, his wife, and his son. Stephen died around the age of 37, the cause of his death is unknown.
Library of Congress
IMAGE: Floyd Collins
An oval black and white historic photo portrait of Floyd Collins, a middle aged white man with a furrowed brow staring straight forward. His cheek bones are prominent, and his eyes are shadowed, he has a stern look on his face. His well kept, short, dark hair is swept to the side, ending at the tops of his ears. He wears a white collared shirt, a dark jacket, and a dark tie.
Amateur caver Floyd Collins drew national attention media attention in 1925, stuck for days in Sand Cave. He died before rescuers could free him. The publicity played a role in Mammoth Cave being made a national park in 1941.
TEXT: Touring the caveThis section covers information on planning your trip, travelling to the park, and what clothing and shoes to wear.
TEXT: Getting to the Park
From Louisville, Kentucky, take I-65 south and exit at Cave City Exit 53. From Nashville, Tennessee, take I-65 north to Exit 48 at Park City, Kentucky.
TEXT: Time Zone
Mammoth Cave National Park and Nashville, Tennessee, are in the Central Time Zone, one hour behind the Eastern Time Zone.
TEXT: Reserve a Tour Before Your Visit
Cave tours can and do sell out. Summer days, holidays, and weekends are busy. To best enjoy the tour of your choice, make advanced reservations by calling (877)444-6777 or go online to recreation.gov.
TEXT: Traveling with Children
If your children are young, consider taking a shorter tour. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Some tours have other age restrictions. Strollers and child backpack carriers are prohibited in the cave. Some tours have restroom facilities, others do not. For details call the park at (270)758-2180.
TEXT: Are There Things I can’t Take Into the Cave?
All weapons are prohibited, including firearms, knives, sharp instruments, pepper spray, mace. Camera tripods and monopods are not permitted, nor is flash photography, though you may photograph without a flash. Flashlights are allowed on all tours except lantern tours but may not be used during tour stops. Metal frame child backpack carriers are prohibited, otherwise front backpacks and other purses are allowed. Except as medically necessary, bring no food or drinks other than water.
TEXT: Clothing and Footwear
Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots with good soles. Some crawling tours require boots with aggressive. No bare feet and sandals are not recommended. A light jacket is recommended. Cave temperatures range from freezing to around 55°F. In winter, dress in layers.
TEXT: Protecting Yourself and the Cave
Many cave tours are strenuous and require stooping and travelling over uneven trails. Travel at a comfortable, steady pace behind the lead guide at all times. The slowest pace is at the front of the tour. You must stay with your tour, children must stay with parents, and everyone must stay on defined tour trails. Smoking is prohibited. Do not write on cave walls or collect cave rocks or objects as souvenirs.
A color photo of a brown cave formation, called flowstone, looking similar to melted wax or frozen rivulets of mud on the wall. Water glistens on the surface of the solid rock formation, indicating that it continues to form. Just like stalactites and stalagmites, flowstone is made by dripping water that is full of dissolved limestone, redepositing the limestone into beautiful natural sculptures over the course of thousands of years.
Two cavers, a man and a woman, army crawl through a two- foot tall passageway wearing coveralls, kneepads, gloves, and helmets with headlights shining. Both cavers have wide smiles on their faces as they look at the path ahead. Cave explorers must be physically fit and mentally robust people in order to enjoy crawling, climbing, and wading through water for hours on end through the longest known cave in the world.
TEXT: Plan ahead
To go into Mammoth Cave you must be on a cave tour, tours are offered daily, except December 25th. Tour schedules and visitor center hours vary from season to season. For tour descriptions, schedules, or for information on surface activities and special events call the park at (270)758-2180.
TEXT: White Nose Syndrome
To guard against the spread of White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease affecting bats, all cave tour participants must walk on biologically secure mats immediately following the tour.
MAP: Cave Tour Area
The purpose of this illustrated 3 D map is for navigation inside of Mammoth Cave. Just over 10 miles of cave passages are shown that can be accessed from six separate entrances. The Historic Entrance provides access to the Rotunda which is also depicted on the front side of this audio-brochure. Iconic names of places on the map include Mammoth Dome, Giant's Coffin, Fat Man's Misery, Cleaveland Avenue, Mount McKinley, Grand Canyon, Grand Central Station, New Entrance, and Frozen Niagara.
The Mammoth Cave tour routes explore the passages shown here. Many more miles of cave are not shown. Over 400 miles have been surveyed in the Mammoth Cave system.
OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure
The back of the brochure includes photographs of park scenery and wildlife, a close-up map of the visitor center area, and an aerial map of the 53,000 acre park.
The text explains sinkholes, plants, wildlife, and park amenities found on the closeup map of the visitor center area and aerial map of the park.
IMAGES: Exploring Mammoth Cave
There are 5 images. IMAGE 1:
Aerial-view picture features a sinkhole plain outside of the park. There is a large, open light green grassy landscape with intermittent patches of leafy dark green trees. Hundreds of sunken areas can be found in the landscape ranging in size from a small car to a large house. The sunken areas are cavities in the ground where water eroded the bedrock underneath. These cavities are also known as sinkholes.
Sinkhole plain outside the park
Photograph of the front side body of a wild turkey. The background is blurry and burnt orange in color. The photograph depicts a small piece of the the male turkey's fanned tail and its dark brown beard hanging from its neck. The turkey shows off its prominent and shiny feathers that come in dark brown, light brown, orange, yellow, and red. It has a bright red gobbler underneath its chin, a long beak, and a wrinkly, hairless bald head.
IMAGE 3: Birdwalk
A picture of a Mammoth Cave Park Ranger looking for birds with five park visitors. The Park Ranger is dressed in a straw hat with a flat, circular base, a grey shirt with a gold-plated badge, and dark green pants. The ranger and the five visitors stand in a grassy field and hold binoculars and cameras as they all look toward the trees for birds.
IMAGE 4: Church
The sun is peaking through the trees in this picture of The Mammoth Cave Baptist Church. The wooden, white church sits on a large bed of light green grass and is surrounded by tall, leafy green trees. It is a white , rectangular structure and made of wood with chipped pieces exposing a dark brown color. Four windows, two white doors, and a dark brown board can be found on the exterior. The board has painted white lettering but is too blurry to read.
Mammoth Cave Baptist Church
IMAGE 5: River
This is a picture of the Green River in autumn. The river appears to have a thin layer of white fog from the change in morning temperatures. Shadows from the trees cover the river and base of the large hill in the background. The hill has trees of red, brown, dark green, light green, and yellow. A blue sky depicts a clear and sunny day ahead.
TEXT: Exploring Mammoth Cave
Erosional forces that formed the cave system shaped the entire region’s landscape. Rivers, bluffs, sinkholes, cave entrances, and ridge tops all provide varied habitats with many distinct plant and animal communities. Relatively small, specialized habitats like wetlands and old-growth forests contribute disproportionately to the park’s and Kentucky’s biological diversity. Largely wooded, the park features mostly second-growth forest, but small areas of relatively undisturbed old-growth forest are rare in Kentucky but are also found. Beech trees dominate ravine flats, joined by yellow poplar and sugar maple on lower and middle slopes. White and black oaks and three species of hickory define upper slope forests.
Park forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Eastern white-tailed deer browse roadsides and flocks of wild turkey are often seen. You may notice squirrels, chipmunks, and raccoons—the park’s most often-sighted mammals—as you walk the trails.
As the region’s base-level stream, the Green River is central to the formation and health of the Mammoth Cave system. One of North America’s most biologically diverse rivers, the Green harbors 82 fish species. Gravel bars of the upper Green are critical habitat for freshwater mussels, one of the nation’s most endangered animal groups. Over 50 species are found in the park; seven are listed as endangered. Another four are being considered for listing. The banks of the Green River and its largest park tributary, the Nolin River, abound in wildlife. Deer, wood ducks, turtles, kingfishers, and great blue herons are often here.
Mammoth Cave National Park has many smaller, more specialized habitats having conditions required for various plant and animal communities. Small ponds and stream banks are wetland.
refuges for at least one rare sedge, several rushes, bladderwort, arrowroot, and the lance-leaved violet. The sinkholes and cave entrances are moist microclimates for plant species unlike those in drier uplands. Native grassland species, once characterizing much of western and central Kentucky, grow in isolated patches and along park roadsides now. Sandstone gorges in the park’s northern part support hemlock, yellow birch, umbrella magnolia, and holly.
Do not think of Mammoth Cave National Park in two parts: the cave system’s below-ground world and the above-ground realm of forest and light. These are two parts of a greater whole, unified by forces of nature that continue to form the cave, shape the landscape, and nurture their biological communities.
IMAGES: Mammoth Cave Wildlife
IMAGE 1 of 2: Spiderwort
The head of a flower with 3 round petals. The petals are a rich purple at the tips that fades to a light purple at the center.
IMAGE 2 of 2: Salamander
Bright orange salamander speckled with black spots. When seen at wet cave entrances, this harmless amphibian is usually around 4-6 inches long.
TEXT: General information
Mammoth Cave is about 85 miles from both Louisville, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee. The park is in the Central Time Zone. Airports and car rentals are in Nashville, Louisville, and Bowling Green.
No park entrance fee is charged, but people six years and older must pay tour fees. Fees are charged for camping. Free park publications list visitor center hours and ranger programs. Find a trail map and information on accessible facilities and activities at the visitor center.
Stay at any of the park’s three campgrounds for up to 14 days. Toilets, grills, tables, and water, but no hookups, are provided. Houchin Ferry Campground is first-come, first-served. Reservations are recommended for Mammoth Cave and required for Maple Springs Group campgrounds (for large groups and campers with horses). Call (270) 758-2180 or visit www.nps.gov/maca to make reservations.
Backcountry camping is allowed at 13 designated sites, on riverbanks, and on islands, by permit only. Get a free permit at the visitor center.
TEXT: Scenic drives
Drive Flint Ridge, Green River Ferry, Ugly Creek, Joppa Ridge, and Houchin Ferry roads in your private vehicle. The latter three roads are not passable by trailers or motor homes. Ask for more information at the visitor center.
TEXT: Ranger-led programs
Attend a surface talk or activity at specified locations in season. At Mammoth Cave amphitheater, rangers give evening programs in season. Non-campers may park nearby.
TEXT: Junior Ranger program
Children of all ages may become Junior Rangers by answering questions in the Junior Ranger booklet. Ask for it at the visitor center. Groups may also qualify for the park’s environmental education program. Call (270)758-2441.
The Heritage Trail, Sand Cave Trail, and Sloans Crossing Pond Walk, are accessible to people of all abilities. The park has 65.8 miles of trails north of The Green River, and 18 miles of trails south of the river.
South of the Green River, bicycles are permitted on the nine-mile Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail, the Amphitheater Trail, and on some service roads designated in the park’s Backcountry Map & Guide. North of the river, mountain biking is permitted on Big Hollow, Maple Springs, and White Oak trails. Ask for maps and mountain biking information at the visitor center.
TEXT: Boating and canoeing
Nearly 30 miles of the Green and Nolin rivers offer canoeing and boating, past high bluffs. Commercial outfitters outside the park rent canoes, kayaks, and safety equipment.
Muskie, bass, crappie, and catfish await anglers in the Green and Nolin rivers. Fishing licenses are not required in the park, but all other Kentucky fishing regulations apply. Ask for regulations at the visitor center.
TEXT: Horse use
Most trails north of the Green River are open for horseback riding. You must stay on designated trails. Do not hitch horses to trees. Commercial liveries outside the park rent horses, and some may provide organized excursions. For information, call (270)758-2180.
The Lodge at Mammoth Cave has a kennel; fees apply. Only service animals are permitted in the cave. Pets left in parked vehicles may be removed by park staff when temperatures threaten the animals’ lives. Pets must be kept on leashes, no more than six feet long, at all times.
TEXT: For a safe visit
Check park publications for regulations and safety precautions. Be alert for ticks and chiggers. Use insect repellent. Avoid the park’s two venomous snakes, the timber rattler and the northern copperhead. Federal law protects all animals and plants in the park. Do not disturb or kill them. Do not feed wildlife. If you have questions about any activity, check at the visitor center.
TEXT: Lodging and services
The Lodge at Mammoth Cave has rustic cabins, hot showers, coin laundry, food services, and a gift shop. Open spring to fall. For more information or reservations, call (844)760-2283.
Find public amenities in the Caver’s Camp Store and post office. For privately owned caves and services outside the park, call The Cave City Convention Center, (270)773-5159.
OVERVIEW: Contact Information
Mammoth Cave National Park is one of over 400 areas in the National Park System. To learn more visit, www.nps.gov.
PO Box 7
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259-0007
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
Information on the National Park Foundation community can be found at, www.nationalparks.org.
Mammoth Cave National Park continually strives for full and equal participation for all visitors. The visitor center is accessible for people of all abilities. More information on accessible hikes can be found at the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center. A braille brochure on Mammoth Cave Visitor Information can be borrowed from the visitor center upon arrival.
Other accessible features for visitors who are blind or low-vision include:
The Accessible Pass. The Accessible pass is a free, lifetime admission pass available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a permanent disability. Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship. This pass is available at the visitor center.
The Mammoth Cave Visitor Center has a tactile underground cave map and tactile exhibits in the museum area on the right side of the main room.
The Echo River Springs Hike has tactile exhibits on wayside signs along the sides of the designated hiking trail.
For more information about Mammoth Cave services, please call the information line at (270) 758-2180.
Overview: MapsThere are two illustrated maps included in the Mammoth Cave brochure. The first map is a close-up view of the visitor center and nearby amenities. The second map is an aerial view of Mammoth Cave National Park and nearby citites.
MAP: Visitor Center Area Overview
The purpose of this close up map of the visitor center area is navigation. The Visitor Center and the Lodge at Mammoth Cave are shown in the center, north is oriented at the top. Roads are to the south and east, hiking trails are to the west, and the mammoth cave campground is in the southeast corner. A three mile section of the Green River cuts from 12 o'clock diagonally to 7 o'clock.
MAP: Visitor Center Area Legend
A compass rose indicates north is oriented at the top of the map. A scale indicates the area shows a 2 mile by 2 mile area.
Gravel bicycle and hiking trail
Wheelchair accessible trail
MAP: Visitor Center Area Amenities
This map focuses on the Visitor Center and the Lodge at Mammoth Cave, the lodge is directly south of the visitor center, they are connected by a foot bridge. There are parking lots north of the visitor center, and south of the lodge. Both buildings have the following amenities: restrooms, information, and gift shops.
The Visitor center is where cave tour tickets can be purchased and where all tours depart from. The visitor center also has a water fountain, bookstore, park exhibits, and a park film.
The Lodge also has an ATM, a restaurant, a grab and go cafe and ice cream parlor, and check in for lodging and pet kennels.
North of the visitor center parking lot are The Woodland Cottages for reservation through the lodge, north of that is a picnic area with shelters, picnic benches, and parking.
South of the Lodge parking lot is the Amphitheater.
Southeast of the visitor center is the Caver's Camp Store. It has restrooms, a post office, laundry facilities, and showers.
Further southeast is the mammoth cave campground. It has restrooms, there are no showers or RV hook-ups.
Southwest of the visitor center is the Green River Ferry and Echo River Spring Parking. It has a boat launch, a kayak and canoe launch, and restrooms. The Echo River Spring hiking trail is accessible to people of all abilities.
MAP: Visitor Center Area Roads
The Visitor Center is located on Mammoth Cave Parkway. This road goes southeast from the visitor center to 4 o'clock on the map. An access road before the visitor center parking lot connects to the lodge parking lot.
At 5 o'clock, an access road leads to the caver's camp store and the mammoth cave campground loops.
At 7 o'clock, the Green River Ferry road goes east to intersect with Mammoth Cave Parkway at 4 o'clock, south of the campground.
At 2 o'clock, Flint Ridge Road winds southwest to connect to Mammoth Cave Parkway between the lodge parking lot access road and the visitor center parking lot.
MAP: Visitor Center Area Hiking Trails
The start of the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail is shown leading from the visitor center area in the center, southeast to 5 o'clock.
There are also eight hiking trails totaling about 7 miles. Two hiking trails are accessible to people of all abilities, the Heritage Trail and half a mile of the Echo River Spring Trail.
The Heritage Trail starts directly from the visitor center area, travels west then loops around. At the far west point of the trail is Sunset Point overlook, a switchback trail travels west from that point to intersect with the Echo River Spring Trail.
The Echo River Spring trailhead is at 7 o'clock. The accessible portion makes a "U" around the Echo River, it is an out and back hike.
The Green River Bluffs trailhead is a 12 o'clock, it starts from the picnic area. This trail loops around then travels southwest beside the Green River till it ends at the River Styx Spring Trail.
The River Styx Spring Trail leaves from the visitor center area, travels west and passes the Historic Entrance. This trail ends at 9 o'clock at the Green River.
The Dixon Cave Trail connects with the River Styx Trail next to the Historic Entrance and travels northwest to 10 o'clock to intersect with the Green River Bluffs Trail.
MAP: Visitor Center Area Natural and Cultural Highlights
Natural and cultural highlights are listed in order of most to least frequently visited.
The Visitor Center is centrally located and surrounded by the Woodland Cottages, hiking trails, the amphitheater, and The Lodge at Mammoth Cave.
The Historic Entrance is a 5 minute walk down the hill west from the Visitor Center and Lodge area.
A cemetery lies in the middle of the loop of the Heritage Trail.
A historic train engine, Engine No. 4, is located between the visitor center/lodge and the campground.
River Styx is an underground river that exits the cave and joins the Green River, it is located at the end of the River Styx Spring Trail, one mile from the visitor center.
Echo River is a spring fed creek that bubbles out of the cave, it can be accessed on the Echo River Spring Trail.
MAP: Aerial Map Overview
This aerial map of Mammoth Cave National Park and the immediate surrounding area has a main purpose of navigation. This map also gives the viewer an understanding of river access, campgrounds, historic cemeteries, and the dozens of miles of hiking trails.
The park visitor center is located centrally, most easily accessed from the southeast roads. The Green River cuts east to west across the park in a winding path. Depending on weather conditions and construction, a ferry takes cars between the north side and the south side, where the visitor center is located. Call the park at 270-758-2180 for more information about ferry conditions.
MAP: Aerial Map Legend
A compass rose
A scale indicating this map depicts an area 14 miles North-South by 20 miles East-West
Gravel bicycle and hiking trail
Horse and hiking trail
Horse, hiking, and bicycle trail
Backcountry parking area
MAP: Aerial Map Amenities
Description of amenities will be in order of most to least frequently used starting with the visitor center area. The prior map goes into more detail of the visitor center area.
The visitor center area has rest rooms, food service, lodging, gift shops, a picnic area, a camp store, and a campground. The heritage in this area is accessible to people of all abilities.
The Green River Ferry and parking lot are a 6 minute drive southwest of the visitor center area. It has a canoe and kayak launch, restrooms, and the echo river spring hiking trail which is accessible to people of all abilities.
The Sloans Crossing Pond is a 7 minute drive south of the visitor center area. It has a picnic area, and a hiking trail that is accessible to people of all abilities.
The Dennison Ferry Day Use area is a 20 minute drive northeast of the visitor center area. There is no longer ferry service here. It has parking for backcountry camping, a canoe and kayak launch, and a picnic area.
The Sand Cave Trail area is a 9 minute drive southeast from the visitor center area. It has an interpretive boardwalk that is accessible to people of all abilities.
Outside of the national park, Nolin River Lake State Park Tailwater Recreation Area, is about a 40 minute drive northwest from the visitor center using the green river ferry. It has two boat launches and a picnic area.
The Houchin Ferry area is a 20 minute drive west of the visitor center area. There is no ferry in service there. It has a primitive campground, a picnic area, and a canoe and kayak launch.
The Maple Springs group campground area is an 11 minute drive northwest from the visitor center area using the Green River Ferry. It has a campground, and backcountry parking.
The Lincoln day use and backcountry parking area is a 20 minute drive northwest from the visitor center area using the Green River Ferry.
The First Creek day use and backcountry parking area is a 25 minute drive northwest from the visitor center area using the Green River Ferry.
The Temple Hill day use and backcountry parking area is a 30 minute drive northwest from the visitor center area using the green river ferry.
The White Oak day use and backcountry parking area is a 30 minute drive northeast from the visitor center area using the green river ferry.
MAP: Aerial Map Roads
The Green River divides the park into two parts, the north side has backcountry hiking trails, the south side is where the visitor center area is located on Mammoth Cave Parkway. Within the park there is only one ferry that allows access between the north and south sides, the Green River Ferry, located centrally.
Most visitors come into the park from I-65, an interstate that connects Louisville Kentucky to the north, and Nashville Tennessee to the south. The following description of roads will begin with the most frequently used area then move around the map clockwise from there.
At 4 o'clock, Cave City Road goes from I-65 exit 53 in Cave City northwest to the Mammoth Cave Parkway.
At 5 o'clock, park city road goes from I-65 exit 48 in Park City northwest to the Mammoth Cave Parkway. On Mammoth Cave Parkway, halfway between I-65 exit 48 and the visitor center, is the intersection with Brownsville Road.
At 6 o'clock, Brownsville Road goes west out of the park to Brownsville, Kentucky which is located at 9 o'clock. Several roads go south off of Brownsville Road such as Cedar Sink Road.
At 9 o'clock, is the town of Brownsville, Kentucky. Houchin Ferry road goes north east to the Houchin Ferry campground, there is no longer ferry service here.
At 10 o'clock, located outside of the park boundaries, is the Nolin River Lake State Park Tailwater Recreation Area connected to the town of Brownsville by state road 259.
At 11 o'clock, Ollie road parallels the park boundary line, the First Creek and Lincoln backcountry parking areas are located on this road. Off of Ollie road, Houchin Ferry road goes southwest toward 9 o'clock, this road ends at the Houchin Ferry which is no longer in service.
At 12 o'clock, the Green River Ferry Road goes south into the park, crosses the Green River using the ferry, and to the visitor center area. The Maple Springs group campground is located halfway between the park boundary and the visitor center area. Outside of the park's north boundary, several state roads connect to the Green River Ferry Road, including roads west to Nolin River Lake State Park as well as a road to the Lincoln, First Creek, and Temple Hill backcountry parking areas within the park.
At 1 o'clock, the Dennison Ferry Road goes south into the park to the White Oak parking area. The Ugly Creek Road is a dirt road that connects the White Oak parking area west to the Green River Ferry at the north park boundary. Ugly Creek Road has a warning to not cross when water covers the ford.
At 3 o'clock, Flint Ridge road goes west from I-65 exit 58 to the visitor center area. Halfway between I-65 and the visitor center area is the south section of Dennison Ferry Road leading to the Dennison Ferry Day Use Area located at 2 o'clock. There is no ferry service there, this road no longer connects to the Dennison Ferry Road located at 1 o'clock.
MAP: Aerial Map Hiking Trails
On the south side of the park, five hiking trails are shown. These trails are described with the map as a clock face. More frontcountry hiking is shown on the prior map titled "MAP: Visitor Center Area".
At 4 o'clock, on Cave City Road at the park boundary, Sand Cave Trail is a very short out and back interpretive accessible hiking trail.
At 5 o'clock, at the intersection of Browsnville Road and Mammoth Cave Parkway, Sloan's Crossing Pond is a short loop accessible trail.
The hike and bike trail goes from the visitor center along Mammoth Cave Parkway then along Park City Road to I-65 exit 48 in Park City, Kentucky located at 5 o'clock.
At 7 o'clock, on Cedar Sink Road, near the park's southern boundary, is the Cedar Sink Trail, a short out and back hiking trail.
Nearby at 7 o'clock, on Brownsville Road, the Turnhole Bend Nature Trail is a short loop trail.
On the north side of the park, over 60 miles of backcountry hiking trails weave back and forth, crisscrossing with one another, covering one-fourth of the park territory. Most of these trails are open to hiking and horseback riding, a few are also open to biking. 13 backcountry campsites are dispersed throughout the backcountry. For more information about backcountry hiking and camping contact the park at 270-758-2180.
MAP: Aerial Map Natural and Cultural Highlights
The winding Green River cuts the park into a south side and north side. Several small streams lead into the great Green River on the north side, creating valleys in this hilly forested terrain. A handful of hills and knobs are indicated on the map with elevations.
Eight cemeteries are shown spread across Mammoth Cave National Park. These cemeteries are the best reminder of the over 600 families that used to call the area home before the creation of the park in 1941.