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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Mammoth Cave National Park

By Jul 12th 2010 1 Comment »

We left Nashville Sunday morning and headed to Mammoth Cave National Park in South Central Kentucky.  Mammoth Cave is the world’s largest underground cave with more than 367 miles explored.  We arrived at the park around 12:30pm and were immediately overwhelmed by the swarms of people and cars trying to find parking at the visitor center.  Once in the visitor center, we learned the five guided tours for the next two hours were sold out (prepare for this if coming with families).

Mammoth cave was once the home of the largest bat hibernation caves in the world.  150 years ago there were millions of bats, but today those numbers have largely been diminished by human disturbance.  There are at least eight species of bats found in Mammoth Cave, two of which are on the Endangered Species List; the Indiana bat and the Gray bat.

We started the day with a self guided tour through the Old Entrance Pathway into the cave and finished with a two hour guided New Entrance tour.  We were fascinated by the cool air that was pushing out of the caves entrance upon entering.  It made for some refreshing relief on a 95 degree afternoon.  The cool temperature of the cave varies due to air movement near the entrances, the location (on ridges or in valleys), and the temperature of water entering the cave. In a sense, the cave has its own weather system. Wind is created by temperature differences between the entrance and interior passageways. This causes a “chimney effect,” resulting in a wind chill factor underground. We were very thankful we had our jackets with us!

The New Entrance was discovered in the 1920’s.  Once departing the bus we were brought to an air tight doorway to begin a 250 foot descent underground.  We walked down a winding, three hundred-stair descent, through twisting and tight spaces.  Mammoth Cave consists of thick limestone, and sandstone.  We were guided through 45 minutes of beautiful rock formations and a labyrinth of pathways through the cave.  The final ten minutes of the tour was our favorite.  It was packed with curtains of rock, straw-like rock formations, and rock that looked like pink coral and marble.  It was truly an unbelievable sight that words cannot do justice to describe- simply breathtaking and remarkable.

However, we were a bit disappointed with the lack of respect some families had shown while on the tour of the cave.  We were sandwiched between a father playing music from his cell phone and another family talking and stopping unsafely throughout the tour to snap photos every 3 feet (no lie). This left the people behind them temporarily blinded and at risk of their own safety.  The ranger’s monologues were interrupted by numerous side conversations, which left those actually interested in the history of the cave unable to hear and dissatisfied.

It’s unfortunate that people can’t enjoy and fully take advantage of the educational value that these parks have to offer.

The only way we foresee this being fixed is to decrease the size of each tour group going through.  Tours run on an hourly basis, but consisted of three buses full of over a hundred visitors.  It would be more enjoyable and beneficial if they could run the tours more often with smaller groups.

All in all it was an enjoyable experience. The cave has history dating back millions of years and is even reported to have a haunting presence. Numerous tours allow different experiences, so regardless of what you’re looking for, you will find something fun and adventurous to do/learn about.

One Response to "Mammoth Cave National Park"

  1. Mary Ann says:

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed Mamouth Cave. It’s ashame that some people don’t realize how their actions affect others. The pictures were spectacular!

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