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Mammoth Cave
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The Mammoth Cave Destination is located in a part of Kentucky and is dominated by cities, forests, hills, and a couple of lakes. The region has a temperature that fluctuates throughout the year, with the hottest months being in July and August and the coldest months being February and January. The average high temperature is about 79 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low is around 37 degrees Fahrenheit. It rains throughout the year, though rain is most likely to fall in July, April, and December.[5] Activities within the zone include horseback riding, lodging, camping, bicycling, boating, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and cave tours.[1] Other pursuits are the Beech Ben Amusement Park & Raceway, the Historic Railpark and Train Museum, the Barker Arboretum and the Downing Museum, Aviation Heritage Park, Chaney's Dairy Barn & Restaurant, the Shany Hollow Lake Hiking Trail, and the Kentucky Museum.[3]

What Mammoth Cave is known for

The Mammoth Cave, which is located in Kentucky, is known for being the longest cave in the world. It is the namesake of the Mammoth Cave Destination, containing over 346 miles of cave passageways—some of which are still unexplored. Native Americans first discovered the cave around 4,000 years ago and explored around 20 miles into the cave. The largest dome of the cave, which is called the Mammoth Dome, is 192 feet high, and the largest pit, called the Bottomless Pit, is in actuality somewhere around 105 feet deep. Public tours of the caves began in 1816, and in the 1800s and early 1900s, weddings and other events were held inside of the caves. The Mammoth Cave was included as the defining feature of the Mammoth Cave National Park in 1941 after the rest of the surrounding land was established as a part of the park.[2] The national park offers a variety of activities for tourists to participate in, such as hiking, camping, horseback riding, bicycling, lodging, kayaking, canoeing, boating, and cave tours that range in difficulty, length, and price.[1]

More than 2 million tourists come to the Mammoth Cave National Park a year. Around 600,000 of those tourists take tours of the caves, and roughly 4,000 people take tours of the caves every day during the peak season.[2]

Within the Mammoth Cave Destination are multiple cities, one of the larger ones being Bowling Green. Attractions within the city that guests can visit include Aviation Heritage Park, the Beech Bend Amusement Park & Raceway, the Barker Arboretum, and the Downing Museum, the Historic Railpark and Train Museum, the Kentucky Museum, the Shanty Hollow Lake Hiking Trail, and Chaney's Dairy Barn & Restaurant. The Beech Bend Amusement Park & Raceway was first created in 1898 and has welcomed tourists since then. The park is a combination of drag raceways, amusement park rides, and a campground. There are also water attractions within the park to accompany the seven thrill rides, eleven children's rides, and nineteen family rides. The Historic Railpark and Museum first started out as an L & N Depot, which opened in 1925. The depot provided service to over 20 trains per day. Behind the museum, there are 450 feet of railway that house seven cars, each with its own story and display. The museum has been open since 2002.[3]  


The Mammoth Cave Destination is made up of cities, hills, forests, and lakes. The landscape of the district is hilly, though there are no mountains. The zone also has many forests and contains an abundance of trees. The south end of the region goes along the border between Kentucky and Tennessee, and there is a small section of Indiana that is located within the sector as well. The territory circles around multiple cities, including Fort Campbell, Madisonville, Owensboro, Leitchfield, Cave City, and Glasgow. Other cities within the borders of the district are Beaver Dam, Bowling Green, and Central City.

The weather in and around the destination fluctuates throughout the year, with an average high temperature of around 79 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low temperature of about 37 degrees. Because of this, the best time to visit the district is from the middle of March to the beginning of June. The hottest months of the year are July and August, while the coldest months are January and February. The city of Bowling Green, which is located within the Mammoth Cave Destination, gets rain throughout the year, with the highest chance of rain in April, July, and December. The city does not receive snow and is instead humid in December. The most popular time to visit the city is in June and July, along with the other summer months. March is also a common time to visit Bowling Green.[5]

Plants and animals live within the region, especially near the Mammoth Cave. The cave is home to twelve species of eyeless, unpigmented cave dwellers, along with three endangered species; grey bats, Kentucky cave shrimp, and Indiana bats.[2] Other animals that dwell in the caves are woodchucks, rabbits, opossums, foxes, raccoons, white-tailed deer, mice, chipmunks, bats, mourning doves, wild turkeys, woodpeckers, hawks, owls, copperheads, and rattlesnakes, along with reptiles and amphibians. There are more than 130 species that live within the Mammoth Cave system. These mostly include troglobites, troglophiles, and trogloxenes. Many crickets and bats also live within the cave. Plants that thrive above the surface of the caves include eastern red cedars, Virginia pines, sycamores, silver poplar, river maples, box elders, and red maples.[4]


Native Americans first discovered the Mammoth Cave, which is the namesake of the Mammoth Cave Destination, around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Tribes and groups of Native Americans used to inhabit the forests and plains of Kentucky because of the river valleys and the food the land provided. Their lifestyle eventually led them to the Mammoth Cave thousands of years before European settlers arrived.[11] 

For a time, the Native Americans living near the Mammoth Cave would mine gypsum, epsomite, mirabilite, and other minerals from the passageways of Mammoth Cave, along with from other caves in the area. They used mussel shells to scrape off the relatively soft minerals and materials from the cave walls and would put them in containers that they carried around with them. Evidence of this is from the thousands of artifacts that are spread throughout the cave passageways. Other sources of evidence are the pictographs and petroglyphs that the Native Americans left behind. After 200 BCE, the mining and exploration of the cave declined due to the changing of beliefs and traditions.[11] 

Thousands of years after the Native Americans first discovered the cave in the 18th century, African American slaves were forced to work to produce saltpeter in the cave. Saltpeter was the main ingredient to produce black gunpowder, which proved to be very important during the War of 1812. The working conditions in the cave were poor. Many of the workers would be in the cave from before sunrise to after sunset. Smoke from oil lanterns that they used to see filled the cave and made it difficult to see and breathe. The workers also had to work in the cold and darkness that was constantly in the caves.[11]

After the war ended, Mammoth Cave switched from a saltpeter production facility into a tourist attraction that African Americans helped create. Slaves, both men and women, would work in the Historic Mammoth Cave Hotel, cleaning rooms, preparing meals, and changing linens. Some of the earliest guides in the caves were enslaved men such as Mat Bransford, Stephen Bishop, and Nick Bransford. These men, along with a few others, helped to develop cave tour routes throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Other enslaved men continued to serve and tour guides for years.[11] 

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