My name is Dante Bolla and welcome to my travel guide on the incredible Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. I’m 23 years old and love to travel all around the world (and the US) experiencing different cultures and discovering the endless natural beauty that our world has to offer.
Since my father is an immigrant from Hungary, we used to take trips to Europe every other summer to visit relatives when I was growing up. Our family would always take adventurous and memorable trips overseas. I know for a fact that the combination of these two things early on in my life planted a travel bug inside of me that I wouldn’t easily be able to shake off!
Travel, you could say, is in my blood. It’s part of who I am. Photography, on the other hand, is something that I recently found passion for. I’m big into “living in the moment” and “being present” in my day-to-day life, especially when traveling. So I used to not take many photos on my adventures.
After some reflection, I understood that photography had the ability to bring people joy and curiosity by pulling them as close to those places as possible – without them ever having to step foot there themselves. My main reason behind the passion I have for travel and photography is to inspire others to broaden their own global connection with our world.
Awesome Day Trip to Mammoth Cave National Park
The inspiration to visit Mammoth Cave National Park came from my mother and I who had a desire to do something different during our time together this past Christmas. It was a place I had heard of before but didn’t know too much about. The largest cave system in the world? Count me in!
All in all, my trip to Mammoth Cave was that of a laidback day trip. We had no set schedule other than our “tour time” which was at 11am. We went the day after Christmas, December 26th – so the temperatures were a bit chilly. However, a basic jacket was sufficient to weather the cold. In total, we spent four hours at the national park including our 90-minute tour.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, we weren’t able to go much further than the main chambers along the top of the cave system that our tour guide permitted. With that being said, the few chambers I was able to experience were spectacular to say the least.
The feeling you get when you are in an underground structure as big as a basketball arena that has been organically carved out by mother nature over tens of millions of years is surreal! Above the caves, there are miles of naturally groomed wildlife containing forests, fields, rivers and animals connected to the cave system below. It truly is a wonder of the world.
Favorite Place in Mammoth Cave National Park – The Cave Entrance
My entire experience was so memorable at Mammoth Cave. However, if I had to pick a favorite it would be the entrance to the cave system itself. The reason being, this is where two completely different worlds come together and meet. At first glance, the entrance looks like nothing too grand.
Not knowing any better, you would think the caves that lay beyond the entrance are nothing of importance. But after a closer look, one begins to see just the top of the head of the world’s largest cave system!
You see a limestone labyrinth containing over 400 miles of explored caves with the potential of another 600+ miles unexplored. To me, just standing at the mouth of this wonder of the world gave me goosebumps knowing how far it actually digs into the earth and what is still left to discover.
Joining a Guided Tour for Mammoth Cave National Park
When it comes to the national park, there is really only one main attraction and that is the cave system itself. In order to go down into Mammoth Cave one must reserve a guided tour (unless spelunking). There are different types of tours ranging in length and comfort when inside the cave.
I recommend comfortably going outside of your comfort zone, meaning you experience something you previously thought you wouldn’t try. Going into the cave is a must! It’s amazing to be inside the largest cave system in the world as well as being able to freely walk around and explore the inside.
Indeed, my favorite memory from my trip was something that happened on the guided tour when we first entered the main chamber. After descending through the cave entrance and walking down a long yet short in height passageway, we made our way to the first chamber. At this point, the cave is dimly lit so you are able to see decently far around the room.
Then suddenly, our guide showed us what it would look like if you were one of the first explorers to find the cave. They turned off the lights. When I say I have never experienced pure darkness like this before, I mean it.
My mom who was standing right next to me, the group that we went down with, our tour guides and the cave itself all completely disappeared. This was by far one of the trippiest moments I have experienced in my travels.
I loved it because when our guides did this, it opened my mind and made me think hard about those who not only discovered Mammoth Cave in the first place, but those explorers and spelunkers who have mapped out the 400+ miles underneath the surface. Especially those who have done it without the help of modern technology. It’s a truly remarkable feat!
Where to Stay when Visiting Mammoth Cave
I was staying with my mom in her apartment in Evansville, Indiana when I visited the caves so I can’t make any recommendations on hotels. However, I do know that Mammoth Cave National Park is only 90 minutes outside of Nashville, Tennessee along with Louisville, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana. Therefore, it makes for the perfect day trip from those cities.
I’m also sure there are other great parks in the area since the Appalachian Mountains run east of Mammoth Cave. However, from my own experiences and knowledge, I have no other recommendations in the area.
Need to Know Before you Go
Before heading into Mammoth Cave, check out the weather forecast and make sure you have the appropriate clothing to be comfortable! Ladies, leave the high heels in the car. Some regular walking/running/hiking shoes will do the trick. You don’t need to bring anything too fancy.
Other than that, just come with an open mind and an interest in learning something new about nature and you will have a wonderful experience at the world’s largest cave system, Mammoth Cave! Thanks for reading 🙂