Mammoth Cave National Park (Part 1)

mammoth cave

Three part series on our trip to the Mammoth Cave National Park in south-central Kentucky.

Last week we had the opportunity to travel south for one of Cait’s friends who was taking her first vows as a nun. Not something you see everyday:

sisters cakeTwelve newly professed Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia, with their wedding cake (Nashville TN)

So while we were down there, I decided it might be nice to visit a national park, especially since we were going to be driving right through one. We stayed at a Super 8 in Cave City KY, which was surprisingly tolerable, save one spider and one beetle (that we know of…). Thursday evening after getting back from the reception we went exploring a bit in the park.

sand cave sign

We went on a quick hike, advertised as 0.1 mi one-way, but it turned out to be a tad longer. This was the site of a failed cave rescue 90 years ago, when the cave was first gaining widespread attention. Cait was trying out her homemade baby wrap (I looked for a link on her blog, but I don’t think she’s posted on it yet). She wanted to practice because the cave tours don’t allow baby carriers or strollers in the caves, for obvious reasons.

sand cave cait mlb

This is one of 3 trails in the park that are fully accessible, and as the sign says, you are supposed to stay on developed trails. But as you can see, this is a pretty boring “developed trail,” with a pretty boring view of the cave:

sand cave 3

So I decided to look for other “developed trails,” and I found one, just to the side of the viewing deck:

sand cave trailI’ve never been too keen on a strict interpretation of “developed trails.”

After walking pretty far down there, I could get a much better glimpse of things…here’s a shot of the viewing deck from where I was, and a shot from the deck of me:sand cave collage

From down there I could get right up close to the cave without going in.  It looked pretty interesting, but I started to get nervous having just read about the tragic death which made this cave famous.

sand cave 2

Quick 30 minute excursion, hiking a total of 0.7 miles according to MapMyHike. Great intro to the park, but I was itching to plan the next day’s adventure. So we stopped by the visitors’ center and picked up some maps and guides and talked to a ranger about the cave tour options. We were particularly interested in a tour that Michael would enjoy…scratch that, a tour that we would enjoy having Michael along with us. The ranger kept recommending a great tour for people who have trouble getting around, the “Fro Zenaygra” tour. It took a few times and we realized he was saying “Frozen Niagra,” but eliding the words. We also considered the “Mammoth Passage” tour, both of which keep some of the spots reserved for same-day purchase only. At which point I realized we’d be getting up early to fight our way for a spot on those tours.

We headed back to town for some dinner. It’s hard not to bring those maps to the dinner table, which in turn makes it hard to think about or listen to anything else…oops. I was just so excited! After the obligatory Frosty for dessert we turned in early to get ready for a long day on Friday.

(end of part one)

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