Mammoth Cave National Park Quirky Sights

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What becomes more fascinating than a large cave? Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky provides a series of fantastic tours. But, there are also some quirky sights within the cave. Or maybe just your interpretation. But you have to look at it differently! By the way, here’s a link to the Overview National Park post.

Help me!
Help me; I’m falling!!!

But falling into the cave isn’t what we need! No, I’m really not; I just wanted to start this out differently! Actually, just getting started. But Mammoth Cave really is a mammoth! Another fact, did you know that Mammoth Cave tops out at more than 420 miles of surveyed passageways? Also, it takes more than one tour to visit all of them! Here’s a link to the National Park Service site for Mammoth Cave.

Significantly, Mammoth Cave earned the title of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. But that depends on which list you consider. Apparently, several organizations make up different lists. In 1972, the National Park System recognized Mammoth Cave as a National Park to preserve its extended caving. But, in 1972, surveyors found a connection to Flint Ridge to the north. Now, it’s officially known as Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System. And that’s how it came to be over 420 miles of caves.

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By the way, Mammoth Cave got its name due to its size; there have been no findings of the now-extinct Wooly Mammoth! So, let’s get into the quirky looks at Mammoth Cave!

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Mammoth Cave National Park Quirky Sights

Mammoth Cave National Park
I think the rocks are starting to burn – Get Out!

Maybe we need to get out again; the rocks look like they are burning! No, that might even be artificial light!

Basically, if people tour the cave, artificial light needs to be used. There aren’t very many natural lights in a cave!

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This location is just inside the entrance. This tour turns into a fun outing. There weren’t too many low or very narrow places to walk.

Are we upside down in here?

Mammoth Cave more ahead
Why is the light always ahead of us?

Presently, it looks like we are upside down! Doesn’t it seem like we should be walking up there in the light?

Instead, we have more artificial light on the ceiling here. The Park does an excellent job of projecting lights that create optical illusions in some places.

Descending deeper into the cave

Another view - Mammoth Cave
This one is right-side up – I’m sure!

I’m sure we are going up! But, no, wait a minute. We are still descending. These caves can be deceiving. Touring caves proves to be informative even if there are quirky sights!

Some tours contain only lanterns carried by the guides and visitors over 16 years old. But those tours are in a different part of the cave. Although you see open spaces here, some tours are called “crawling tours.” Because you have to get down on all fours and crawl through small openings!

Mammoth Cave National Park Quirky Sights

More Cave
No, we are not going out. More light around the corner

Are we going up or down? It depends on how you look at it. Actually, we are still descending. This area shows more open spaces and high ceilings in the cave.

A person gets disoriented if not with a group. You certainly don’t want to get down here without a guide (or breadcrumbs!)

Bottomless pit?

Mammoth Cave
I think this goes right through the earth’s core and ends up in Perth, Australia.

Can’t you see the steam rising from the earth’s core? Or maybe if you listen hard enough, you can hear an Australian accent coming from the hole! I’m glad they added a guard rail!

According to the guide, it doesn’t go through the earth, and it’s not a bottomless hole! However, you don’t want to fall into it.

Mammoth Cave National Park and a 700-year-old knight!

More Mammoth Cave
We found a 700-year-old monk protecting the Holy Grail!

We veer off into a little-used area as we continue through the cave. And find this 700-year-old knight whose job is protecting the Holy Grail. He’s kept alive by the power of the Grail! Oh, wait a minute. I just jumped into Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!

Actually, it’s just the guide protecting his eyes from the light so he can tell us about this section. And there is more light than it looks like.

Lights behind a mountain range?

Mammoth Cave National Park

This one looks like we are upside down!

No, just more light behind a ridge rising from the cave floor. Until you can bring a 35-mm with a tripod down here, you will get these types of pictures.

However, it’s a great tour down here underground. And this park has trails and water above ground as well.

End of the underground portion of the tour

Mammoth Cave Exit
Now, I think we can get out of here!

This picture is not an optical illusion. But we are headed out of here now. I like the light patterns here. Of course, now it really does feel like we are going out.

I loved the tour and saw lots of sights in the cave. This tour, named the Extended Historic Tour, provides views of several parts representing much of the cave system. There were a few tight spaces to give us a feeling of what that was like.

However, we didn’t have to crawl through any spaces. There are tours where you must do that. On your hands and knees!

Outside Images of Mammoth Cave National Park

Of course, since Mammoth remains a National Park, there are above-ground activities. Currently, there are about seven miles of trails around the visitor center. These trails feature: ridgetops, river views, sinkholes, cave-fed springs, and views of hidden entrances to the area caves. (If they are hidden entrances, how can you see them??)

But the South Side Trails contain another 11 miles of forest trails. And they are great places to see what lives on the surface!

And, there are over 60 miles of “backcountry” trails on the park’s northern side. Some are hiking trails, some are biking trails, and still others are horseback trails. Since it’s a park, both Backcountry and Riverside Camping are also available.

Mammoth Cave National Park Tours

The images above come from the Extended Historic Tour. (That is, the images above the pictures of the outside! The National Park presents many tours of the cave, some change with the seasons.

Here are the current 12 available tours (as of June 2022)

  • Cleaveland Avenue Tour
  • Domes & Dripstones Tour
  • Extended Historic Tour
  • Frozen Niagara Tour
  • Grand Avenue Tour
  • Great Onyx Lantern Tour
  • Gothic Avenue Tour
  • Historic Tour
  • Mammoth Passage Tour
  • River Styx Cave Tour
  • Star Chamber Lantern Tour
  • Violet City Lantern Tour

Here’s a link to obtain more detail.

Mammoth Cave National Park Quirky Sights Summary

Although most people don’t consider National Parks quirky, you can if you look at them in the right frame of mind! Since some people love quirky attractions, just try it sometime. Explicitly look for something that doesn’t look like what the guides describe. Or what you are actually seeing and let your mind wander to something else you’ve seen recently. Try it!

So, we come to the end of the Mammoth Cave National Park Quirky Tour! But you will have to make it quirky in your mind!

Indeed, I’ll catch you at the next park! By the way, the next one is Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. Surprisingly, it’s almost a metropolitan area park as it’s very near Cleveland.

Classic Rock Recollection

“A Horse with No Name” by America

The ocean is a desert with its life underground
And a perfect disguise above
Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
But the humans will give no love

You see I’ve been through the desert
On a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain

Written by: Dewey Bunnell
(I don’t know why it reminds me of a cave!)

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