South from Louisville I went to Mammoth Cave National Park. The largest known cave system in the world, Mammoth Cave stretches over 400 miles and is still being explored and discovered. While visitors can hike, visit the streams and sink holes, and other above ground sites at any time, the cave sections are only accessible on guided tours. I signed up for two, a historical tour in the morning and one focusing on rock formation in the afternoon.
These tours are giant. There were over 100 people on the historic tour and I was glad to be towards the front so I could actually hear everything, though the guide did a great job trying to address everyone. The caves we saw ranged from giant open spaces to tight squeezes to deep drops. We went through a space called Fat Man’s Misery which was a narrow winding section, a low section called Tall Man’s Agony, past the Bottomless Pit which has a thick mud bottom so fallen objects didn’t make a sound, and a waterfall among other sites. It was a very informative tour, and got me excited to see another section later in the day.
Unfortunately, when I went to pick up my ticket for the next tour I found that it had been cancelled. The power in that section of the cave had gone out and wouldn’t be up again that day, and the replacement tour they were adding was the same one I’d just done, so I was out of luck. Disappointed to have not seen more cave, but so glad I wasn’t in the cave when the lights went out. Yikes!
So with a newly freed afternoon ahead of me, I walked around the steam by the visitor’s center, and went on a shirt walk to a sink hole recommended by a ranger. It was cool to see the very bright water basically disappearing into a rock wall as it goes underground into the cave system. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day, prime walking weather.
On my way out of the park I stopped off to see the world’s largest pocket knife, and drove through a town called Pig which was underwhelming and I couldn’t find a town name sign to photograph. A fun way to end my visit to the Bluegrass State!