Today we are scratching off.....MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK!
"Longest Cave System in the World", Est. 1941, 27th National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is located in central Kentucky and preserves the world's longest cave system, with more than 400 miles of cave explored (and counting). The park itself covers over 50,000 acres of land in the Green River Valley, allowing for plenty to do both above and below ground.
Today we want to talk about the WILD CAVE TOUR. My husband and I did this about 3 years ago, and it's one of those "did I really do that?" experiences. Let me start with a few caveats: the online warnings and descriptions do not lie...yes, you need to have good tread on your hiking boots (they check it). Yes, you need to be in good shape, as it is strenuous. You cannot exceed certain body measurements (yes, they check). And no, I wouldn't go if you have claustrophobia or a fear of heights. Still interested?! Good. Because this was one fun day!!
You start out meeting your tour guides, and going over some rules. They walk you over to a building, where you'll put on all your equipment (full-body jumpsuit, helmet, knee pads, etc). Then you climb on a bus and make your way to the cave entrance, where you'll begin!
The tour will cover a wide variety of terrains. Everything from walking in big cave passages on a wide trail, to crawling through puddle-covered tunnels, to slipping through passages so tight that you must turn your head at a certain angle to shimmy through. Your tour guide will gauge your group's ability level in the beginning, and that will determine the route he will take you on throughout the rest of the day. You'll climb up rocks, jump across chasms, and army-crawl through passageways.
Often times, they will take you to a few "optional" spots. As they were more tight, they let each person decide whether or not they wanted to attempt it. I'd say about 2/3 of our group did it when we went! At one point we were walking through a large room in the cave and stopped for a break. Our guide asked everyone to be silent and turn off our headlamps so we could experience the true darkness and silence of a cave. It was incredible!
This tour is true to it's name, and has been one of our favorite things we've done to date! We were pretty exhausted by the end, but that "adventure high" stayed with us for hours afterwards! The Wild Cave Tour is a MUST DO for anyone that is capable.