The National Park Service has announced that the official length of Mammoth Cave now surpasses 400 miles as ten miles of newly mapped chambers and passageways were recently added to the cave complex. Park officials say that these additional miles were the result of a series of smaller, more incremental finds, and were not the result of a single major discovery. Exploration and mapping of these new areas were conducted in partnership with the Cave Research Foundation.
Carved out of the central Kentucky limestone, Mammoth Cave was already the longest cave system in the world prior to the addition of these new discoveries. In fact, it is so large that it is more than twice the size of the next longest cave. Mammoth’s massive underground complex attracts thousands of visitors on a yearly basis ranging from curious travelers to full-fledged explorers and spelunkers. Some of its more famous locations even have names, such as the massive Grand Avenue and the aptly named Fat Man’s Misery.
The Park Service conducts daily tours of Mammoth lasting anywhere from one to six hours in length. Some of those tours are along relatively easy-guided paths while others venture far into the darkness to decidedly more challenging and cramped places. The popular Grand Avenue tour for instance is a 4-mile, four-hour trek that is physically demanding, while the hike to the beautiful Frozen Niagara is a much easier quarter-mile walk that is safe enough for both children and older visitors. Both provide fantastic views of the interior of the cave that simply must be seen to be believed.
If you’re looking for a destination for an upcoming trip to a national park this summer, Mammoth Cave National Park is one of those places that will delight and amaze the entire family.
[Photo Credit: The National Park Service]