Our first year of traveling we had an accident on I65 in the Mammoth Cave area. We have been back through the spot at least once since, and the only thing on our minds was the accident, how lucky we felt, yet what a hassle it was.
On our trek north out of Florida we again found ourselves in this area but wanted to reclaim it with a positive memory to go with the negative. We found a Passport America park a few miles from the entrance to the Cave and booked a couple of nights.
Remember that National Parks pass we paid $80 for in Florida and then didn’t need to visit either the Jimmy Carter Park or the Tuskegee Airmen Monument? It didn’t do us a bit of good here either. Mammoth Cave has no entry fee to the park, but instead charges for ranger-led tours of the cave. And not even a discount for National Parks Pass holders. It begins to annoy…
What isn’t clear from the website, nor from our visit to the visitor center, is if any portion of the cave is open to self-guided exploration. The option was never mentioned in our discussion with a ranger about the different tours, nor are there signs anywhere saying either you can’t explore it alone or must be on a tour. I didn’t think to ask about a self-guided option when there, so instead we “choose to support our National Parks” again to the tune of $48.
It was a good tour. Our Ranger was well spoken and informed. The “Fat Man’s Misery” section was pretty interesting. It’s just hard to really appreciate a dry cave after being to the wondrous beauty that is Carlsbad Caverns. But we marveled at the sheer size and reach of Mammoth (400 miles of cave and they are still mapping).
It did make me wonder - will we soon see self-guided exploration drones that can do that work for us, capturing 3d dimensions of caves and flying back out with that data?
Not many pictures here - it’s tough enough to get good ones in caves and especially so when on a fast-moving tour.