We left our home in Illinois at 6:30 a.m. and traveled all the way to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, arriving there at 3:30 p.m. I grew up in El Paso, Texas and have been to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico quite a few times. I still want to get my family there, but Mammoth Cave came in a close second!
That evening we went to the visitor center to find out some details about the cave and tours. (And we ate at Cracker Barrel!) The next morning all 8 of us went on the New Entrance Tour. It was a 2-hour tour and was described as being of “moderate” difficulty. I got such a workout, though, I never even put my jacket on! The first thing we did was enter a metal door and crowd in as many people as possible down some narrow stairs. It was quite dark, and there were cave crickets climbing the walls. This was not a good way to start for my 6-year-old daughter! I told her I’d never force her to go into a cave again! They shut the outer door, and then the group was able to walk through the next door. They didn’t want any outside air to get into the cave, since this wasn’t a natural entrance.
Then we realized how difficult it was going to be. My husband was carrying our 20-month-old baby. I had the Ergo Carrier for him, but we hadn’t put her in it yet. It was too late to do that now! I used one hand to hold onto the hand-rail and the other hand to hold onto my 3-year-old’s hand so he wouldn’t slip and fall. It seems like we went down hundreds of steps! (Thankfully, it was all downward.)
The cave was amazing, though. There were some narrow passages and very open cavernous areas. At one point we all sat down on benches to listen to Ranger Jerry describe some things. He turned off all the lights so that we could see just how dark it was down there 300 feet below the surface!
Mammoth Cave is a very stable cave, meaning that there isn’t much water or moisture in there to keep things changing. But there was one part at the end of this tour where there were some formations still growing–some beautiful stalagtites and stalagmites, etc.
Later, after lunch, my older boys and husband went on a second 2-hour tour called the Historic Tour. I was going to walk some trails with the other kids, but I was so wiped out from the morning that we just spent time in the gift shop, sitting in the Mammoth Cave Hotel lobby (playing with the little rocks I had just bought them), and driving around the Park. We found one part where the road goes down and water covers it. They have a ferry that takes cars back and forth. We sat there watching for quite a long time!
The pictures really don’t do justice to this amazing creation of God’s, but I hope you can feel a bit of the wonder of it.
The first picture shows the natural entrance of Mammoth Cave
Tomorrow: Fun at Dollywood!