Yesterday, we headed up the road to the Mammoth Cave National Park and took our first tour. We opted for the four hour, four mile see as much as you can see option – the Grand Avenue Tour. This cave is a lot different than many of the others we have seen in that it doesn’t have a lot of formations (e.g. stalactites and stalagmites.) They say most of the cave has a sandstone layer near the surface that prevents water infiltration which is what makes the formations.
A little trivia – Mammoth Cave is officially the longest cave in the world at over 300 miles long and they think there are even more areas they haven’t found yet. But, only about 10 miles are lit for tourists. This is a photo of our very cute guide – Katie. She was tougher than she looked. Twice, she had to shush some of the tourists for talking when she was trying to explain something. She did it with a lovely southern drawl, though. The group was pretty large at 60 and I don’t think everyone spoke English – not that that is an excuse for talking when the tour guide is talking!
You used to be able to take a boat ride on one of the rivers that flows at the lower levels of the cave, but they stopped that in the 1990s (for environmental and logistical reasons.) These days, the rules don’t allow you to take anything into the cave – even a backpack or purse. So our packed sandwiches stayed in the car. There is a cafeteria (and three sets of bathrooms) in the cave so we had a box lunch about an hour into our tour.
It was a little odd to be eating soup considering it was more than 90 degrees outside, but the cave stays at a cool 54 degrees all the time!
This is a cave cricket – one of the 140+ creatures that live in the cave. We saw a few hanging on the wall towards the end of our tour. I will wait until after our tour today to post any other photos. I didn’t really get that many great pictures on the first day. The cave is big, but you don’t really get a sense of the size from the pictures. At Carlsbad Caverns, all of the interesting formations were really well lit so you could get some pretty cool pictures. At Mammoth Cave it is all about the size!