Mammoth Cave National Park
One of the perks of working on the road and living the full-time RV life is discovering wondrous places you didn't even know existed. That's been our experience three times this past month, first at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, then at an almost accidental one-week stop in the Grand Junction, Colorado area. I'll post more about that second stop in the future.
Mammoth Cave National Park is a large park with more opportunities to explore than we had time for. There's miles of bike and hiking trails, kayaking on the Green River, and of course, the Mammoth Cave system. It's not just one cave, but 400+ miles of interconnected caverns. It's mammoth not only from the perspective of its overall mileage, but also due to the immense size of its underground rooms.
A Taste of Mammoth Cave's History
We took the two-hour historical tour of Mammoth Cave and learned that native Americans at one time mined gypsum from its walls. During the War of 1812, saltpeter (a component of gunpowder) was discovered there. Large wooden vats and pipes leftover from the leaching operation to extract the saltpeter remain in the cave to this day. In the heat of Kentucky summers, church was occasionally held in one if its acoustically perfect chambers. Beginning in 1838, wealthy travelers would travel great distances to tour the cave in formal attire, but apparently they emerged much less dignified, as piles of corsets and high heel lace-up boots were found deep inside. While we walked on packed earthen walkways, these earlier travelers had to clamber over large rocks and rubble. A 17-year old slave named Stephen Bishop established his place in history by forced service as the first tour guide. He became known worldwide for his exploration and discoveries in the caves, as well as his wit and charm as a tour guide. Read more about Mammoth Cave's history on OhRanger.com
Mammoth Cave is not beautiful, but it is fascinating. If you go, take time to research your touring options beforehand. There's something for nearly everyone and all skill levels, all the way up to a six-hour wild caving adventure. Your options will vary by season. Learn more on the official National Park Service website.
As I said, ours was an unplanned trip. We had finished working a hobby event in Columbia, S.C., followed by a week with friends and family near Knoxville, TN. Our next planned stop would be Liberty, MO, but we had some time to kill. This was the happy result! We stayed at Diamond Caverns Thousand Trails RV Resort while in the area.