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: -86.10281

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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.

The main reason why I’m including a page on the waterfalls of Mammoth Cave is primarily due to the historical use of the weeping waterfall at the mouth of its historic entrance. According to our tour guide, water that was collected from the weeping waterfall at the entrance was brought into the cave to mine for saltpeter. 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.

Julie and I did the historical tour to get a good overview of the cave and the parts the made it famous. There were other tours that visited 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 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. 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.

Mammoth_Caves_014_20121023 - Descending into the historical entrance of Mammoth Cave
Mammoth_Caves_020_20121023 - Looking back at the entrance as we entered the darkness
Mammoth_Caves_022_20121023 - Walking in one of the long corridors
Mammoth_Caves_026_20121023 - Saltpeter mining relics
Mammoth_Caves_030_20121023 - In a particularly large room
Mammoth_Caves_033_20121023 - Graffiti from the 1800s?
Mammoth_Caves_042_20121023 - A corridor reminiscent of a subway
Mammoth_Caves_047_20121023 - Another look at a stained wall containing a trickling waterfall
Mammoth_Caves_049_20121023 - Ascending the so-called bottomless pit
Mammoth_Caves_059_20121023 - Looking back down the way we came up
Mammoth_Caves_070_20121023 - Leaving the cave the same way we came in


Since we drove from Mammoth Cave to Nashville, Tennessee, we’ll describe the driving directions 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. 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 car park 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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