Mammoth Cave National Park
Every once in a while, even I leave the Smokies.
So I drove over 350 miles to Mammoth Cave National Park, one of the places on my top ten places to see - or my bucket list, depending on how you want to look at it.
Mammoth Cave is the longest cave in the world - over 350 miles of tunnels have been discovered. You can only go into the caves on a tour run by rangers and there are over ten tours.
Neil, my son, and I went on the Grand Ave. Tour, the longest walking tour you can do (4.5 miles, four hours).
Mammoth Cave was a tourist attraction by 1816; some say it is the second oldest tourist after Niagara Falls. The Caves were an important source of saltpeter, needed for gunpowder, in the War of 1812. The price of saltpeter rose and many men came to find their fortune in digging it up.
When the war ended, the need declined; hence the expression petered out. By then, many had heard of Mammouth Caves and toured the caves. In 1925, a famous caver, Floyd Collins, was trapped in the cave for days. The caves drew national attention and talk started about the area becoming a national park. It did in 1941. The park is about a tenth the size of the Smokies and has about 60 miles of backcountry trail.
We walked some of the trails; easy, wooded with few views. The picture is of the Green River from an overlook.
The next day, we kayaked on the Green River with Kentucky River Runners. I am not an experienced boater at all. All I can do is follow instructions. There were three guides for nine guests.
These guides were great; basically one leader in front, one as a sweep and one in the middle.
They showed us how to paddle and how to get in and out of the boat without tipping.
OK, so the river was almost as smooth as glass with very few ripples. So we had time to actually look at our beautiful surroundings rather than just handle the rapids.
That's me in the kayak above and Neil and me on one of our island stops.
We stopped twice on islands to eat, rest and on one occasion float on our backs.
But what is this picture above? Well, one of the guys locked his car keys in his SUV and several of our National Park Service's finest came to break into his car. Calling AAA would have taken too long.
The guides took pictures of our trip and I'll link to them as soon as they post them.
Rob, one of the guides, talked about starting a Mammoth Cave 60, for those who hiked all the trails in the park, like a Smokies 900. I think it's a great idea. If he does start an official club, I may go back down for a week and do all the trails.