What’s better than a road trip to see friends? A road trip to see friends and visit a national park together!
When some friends of ours relocated to Kentucky, we wanted to go see them, but we decided to make a trip of it and meet up with them at Mammoth Cave National Park.
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Have you ever been to Kentucky? It is absolutely gorgeous. The gently rolling fields, the beautiful trees. I had been to Kentucky when I was younger, but it had been a while, and I was struck time and again, by the beauty of that state.
Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system, and although more than 400 miles have been explored, there is still plenty of cave that has not been explored. That’s a lot of cave. So, you have a lot of options for exploring the cave system.
Thanks to the great rangers at Mammoth Cave, the cave tours are set up so that all you need is a good pair of closed-toe shoes and a tote or backpack to hold your essentials, and you are good to go!
The first rule of traveling with kids is knowing how to wear them out. You do not want to wear them out early on in the day if you have a full day planned, and you never want to book an excursion or tour that is lengthy and will wear them out halfway through. You just don’t. Having said that, we decided to book the easiest guided cave tour, and we booked it early in the day, before it got too hot. This allowed us time in the park afterwards for a short hike and then ice cream (Rule No. 2 for traveling with kids: Ice cream and popsicle breaks are essential!), before heading back to the campground for rest time, lunch, and swimming. We chose the Frozen Niagara tour, because it’s billed as “the perfect taste of Mammoth Cave for visitors with very small children,” and the youngest member of our group was our friends daughter who was two at the time.
To go on the tour, we took a bus from the visitors center to the cave entrance. The bus ride itself was very serene, as it wound through the lush forest of the park. Once we arrived at the entrance of the cave, we received a quick briefing from the park ranger on various rules and cave etiquette (no flash photography, no eating in the cave, etc).
While flash photography is not allowed inside the caves, I was able to take a few photos without the use of a flash. The photos, of course, do not do justice to the caves features, but do give you an idea of what you’ll see on a tour.
After the tour bus brought us back to the visitors center, we found a short trail near the back entrance. The trails are really well maintained, and for the most part, paved. I don’t remember the exact name of the trail, but it took us through another little cave. Whenever we visit a national park, we always get ice cream. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Plus, ice cream makes a perfect pick-me-up after a day of exploring.
While there are a number of campgrounds within the park, we opted to stay outside the park this time. Because our friends had neither a tent nor a camper, we decided to stay at the local Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, and managed to book our campsite right next to their cabin. It really worked out perfectly.
Have you visited Mammoth Cave National Park? What was your favorite attraction? What tour did you take? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!