Mammoth Cave Waterfalls

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, USA

About Mammoth Cave Waterfalls


Hiking Distance: 1 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes (of walking); 60-90 minutes tour

Date first visited: 2012-10-23
Date last visited: 2012-10-23

Waterfall Latitude: 37.18753
Waterfall Longitude: -86.10356

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It might be a stretch to include a page on Mammoth Cave Waterfalls, but they do have a little historical significance even though they may be hard to photograph.

Indeed, the weeping waterfall at the mouth of the historic entrance to the Mammoth Cave allowed miners to collect water and use it to mine for saltpeter.

Mammoth_Caves_077_20121023 - One of the Mammoth Cave Waterfalls was found at the mouth of the historical entrance to the Mammoth Cave
One of the Mammoth Cave Waterfalls was found at the mouth of the historical entrance to the Mammoth Cave

Saltpeter was used for gunpowder, which was in high demand during the Civil War.

The usefulness of saltpeter diminished when its value dropped after the Civil War was over.

Further into the cave, we heard some more trickling where there was a tall drop that in hindsight beared a strong resemblance to the drop of Ruby Falls.

However in this instance, the water was hardly visible and could really only be heard.

Mammoth_Caves_046_20121023 - This wet streak on the walls within the Mammoth Cave was another one of the Mammoth Cave Waterfalls, but it was hard to see (though it was easy to hear loudly)
This wet streak on the walls within the Mammoth Cave was another one of the Mammoth Cave Waterfalls, but it was hard to see (though it was easy to hear loudly)

Julie and I did the historical tour to get a good overview of the Mammoth Cave and the parts that made it famous.

There were also tours that explored other parts of the cave, but I can only speculate if there might be waterfall sights or not on those tours.

Yet with that said, it wouldn’t surprise us if there were more waterfalls to see on those other tours (especially the sporty spelunking ones) because all underground rivers in this cave drain towards the nearby Green River.

One thing that impressed us was the size of the cave.

Mammoth_Caves_060_20121023 - Looking down at one of the largest rooms of the Mammoth Cave
Looking down at one of the largest rooms of the Mammoth Cave

In addition to large rooms and subway-like corridors, our tour of the cave took two hours!

Neither of us could recall doing a public cave tour that took this long, and if we couple that with the fact that there were also alternate cave tours of similar duration visiting other parts of the cave, it’s no wonder how this cave got its name!

We felt it was definitely worth the $12 per person tour fee.

Authorities

The Mammoth Cave Waterfalls reside in the Mammoth Cave National Park near Park City in Edmonson County, Kentucky. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Mammoth_Caves_011_20121023 - Looking back at the bridge between the large parking lot and the Mammoth Cave facilities
Mammoth_Caves_012_20121023 - The ranger giving our tour warming us up by dropping some knowledge before going into the historical entrance of the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_014_20121023 - The tour group following the ranger towards the historical entrance of the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_014_20121023 - Descending into the historical entrance of Mammoth Cave, where there was a weeping waterfall that is hard to photograph since there wasn't much water
Mammoth_Caves_020_20121023 - Looking back at the historical entrance as we entered the darkness of the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_022_20121023 - Walking in one of the long corridors of the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_026_20121023 - Saltpeter mining relics inside the historical tour of the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_030_20121023 - Listening to our ranger while we were standing in a particularly large room of the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_033_20121023 - A closer look at some of the graffiti from the 1800s
Mammoth_Caves_042_20121023 - A corridor reminiscent of a subway inside the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_047_20121023 - Checking out a stained wall containing a trickling waterfall though the noise inside the Mammoth Cave made it seem like it was rushing
Mammoth_Caves_049_20121023 - Ascending the so-called bottomless pit as we were making our way back out of the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_059_20121023 - Looking back down the way we came up within the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_062_20121023 - Looking across at the group listening to the ranger continuing to drop knowledge on us from inside the Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_070_20121023 - Leaving the historical entrance of the Mammoth Cave pretty much the same way we came in
Mammoth_Caves_074_20121023 - Looking up at the weeping waterfall at the mouth of the historical entrance of the Mammoth Cave, which proved that there would typically be a waterfall here
Mammoth_Caves_076_20121023 - Looking right up at the lip of the historical entrance to the Mammoth Cave where segmented streaks of water were dropping across the cave entrance
Mammoth_Caves_078_20121023 - The large tour group dispersed after our historical Mammoth Cave tour was over

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Since we drove from Mammoth Cave to Nashville, Tennessee, we’ll describe the driving directions in the reverse direction from Nashville.

Again, I’m sure there are many ways of getting to the main visitor center area for Mammoth Cave National Park, but we can only talk about what we’ve done.

From Nashville, find your way north onto the I-65 north.

Mammoth_Caves_010_20121023 - From the large parking lot, we walked over this long bridge to get to the facility to purchase our cave tour tickets
From the large parking lot, we walked over this long bridge to get to the facility to purchase our cave tour tickets

Take this freeway for about 84 miles to the Park City exit (exit 48, which is well-signposted).

We then turned left onto KY255 and followed it (becoming Hwy 70 after 2.3 miles) for about 4.6 miles.

Then, we turned right to leave Hwy 70 but continue on the Mammoth Cave Parkway for another 8 miles.

The large parking lot and visitor center are at the end of the public section of road.

For additional context, the Mammoth Cave is 42 miles (about an hour drive) northeast of Bowling Green, 132 miles (2.5 hours drive) southwest of Lexington, and 94 miles (90 minutes drive) south of Louisville.

Top down sweep of a trickling, hard-to-see waterfall deep in the mammoth cave


Bottom up sweep of a weeping waterfall right at the opening of the historic entrance to Mammoth Cave


Top down L-shaped sweep from the outside of the historic entrance of the cave

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Tagged with: mammoth cave, national park, edmonson county, kentucky, waterfall, bowling green, glasgow, green river, saltpeter, civil war



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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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