The Longest Cave System in the World

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park

We’ve been in a couple of caves in our day—Luray Caverns in Shenandoah, Virginia, and Jewel Caves in South Dakota. But we have never been to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky—the longest known cave system in the world. So, we had to go.

Before going, I studied the available cave tours. To see the list of what I looked at, check out this website: http://www.nps.gov/maca/planyourvisit/summer-schedule.htm. There are lots of options for tours through the caves, but I finally settled on the Historic Tour, which is about a two-hour tour and rated as moderate in terms of difficulty.

We got to the park about 20 minutes before our tour and looked around the visitor’s center. Before starting the tour, the ranger described what we would be encountering in the cave. She scared me pretty well because I can get very claustrophobic in tight spots. Her description sounded like there would be a few tight spots. But luckily my family encouraged me on; we devised a plan that one of them would always be in front of me, and one behind me. I was ready…I think.

Outside the cave entrance for the Historic Tour

Outside the cave entrance for the Historic Tour

So I went for it. Fortunately, it wasn’t bad at all—claustrophobically speaking. (Is that a word?) Even in the tighter spots on that tour, there were open areas. In fact, most of the cave that we were in had big open spaces.

Mammoth Caves is a different cave than those that we’ve been in before. In other caves we’ve seen stalactites and stalagmites and other pretty formations, but the section of the cave we saw on this tour was just that—a cave.

Inside Mammoth Cave

Inside Mammoth Cave

It was impressive in its size and had some fun formations to walk through—like “Fat Man’s Misery.” Of course, it’s fun to visit a cave system that is the biggest one in the world—with no end to the cave system yet discovered.

Blurry picture of Fat Man's misery

A very blurry picture of Fat Man’s misery–no flash was allowed in the cave

As we were leaving the cave that day, we were talking with one of the rangers. We asked him what his favorite tour was. Without hesitation, he answered, “The Wild Cave Tour.” I looked at the description of that one when we got home, and I’m not sure how I’d do on that one with my claustrophobia, but it sure looks like quite an adventure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *