16 Best Things to Do in Mammoth Cave National Park, KY

Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
rukawajung / shutterstock.com

Kentucky's Mammoth Cave is a small city with a lot to enjoy and experience.

There are two major locations to explore at this popular tourist destination in Central Kentucky's rolling hills.

The surface is home to shops, restaurants, museums, and other attractions where you can take in the beauty of nature.

Below the surface lies an underground world full of rock formations, underground rivers, and caverns thousands of years in the making.

You can view these attractions on guided tours or explore them on your own itinerary.

The following are the best things to do in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky!

Go Hiking at Mammoth Cave National Park

Welcome sign of Mammoth Cave National Park
Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock.com

The fantastic Mammoth Cave National Park is a natural wonder you don't want to miss.

With over 400 miles uncovered, it is the world's longest known cave system and one of North America's oldest tourist attractions.

Europeans initially found Mammoth Cave in 1797, but explorers only realized its full extent in 1810.

Boardwalk trail at Mammoth Cave National Park
Bram Reusen / Shutterstock.com

In 1941, Mammoth Cave National Park became a national park.

In 1981, it became a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990.

Waterfall at Mammoth Cave National Park
jctabb / Shutterstock.com

Mammoth Cave National Park protects the cave system, part of the Green River Basin.

Tours of the cave's ten available miles are the park's principal feature.

Hiking, camping, horseback riding, fishing, and kayaking are a few activities at this spectacular location.

Cave interior at Mammoth Cave National Park
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com

Explore Mammoth Cave

The Mammoth Cave National Park is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world.

You can find the world's longest cave system in this national park.

However, you might not see many stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave.

Dripping surface water from the caprock made of shale and sandstone formed the caves instead of groundwater pressure.

Speleologists have already surveyed more than 360 miles and five levels of Mammoth Cave.

You can join a tour to explore the caverns.

Gaze at the Stars at Mammoth Cave

See the night sky in a new light by stargazing from Mammoth Cave.

For thousands of years, people have used the stars to help navigation, keep track of time, and establish their location on Earth.

Today, Mammoth Cave National Park is perfect for stargazing because you can get the best views in spacious areas like grassy fields.

The park also offers ranger-led stargazing events throughout the year.

Take advantage of Mammoth Cave's dark sky and look up at the twinkling stars!

Set up Camp at Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park also offers plenty of outdoor activities.

For instance, three popular campgrounds provide excellent daytime or nighttime camping.

The Mammoth Cave campgrounds are only a quarter of a mile from the visitor information center.

Take a walk to the cave gate and the beautiful rivers.

Larger groups can camp at the Maple Springs Group Campground to stay nearer to the backcountry trails.

On the other hand, the Houchin Ferry Campground has 13 primitive sites near the Green River.

Spend the weekend at the Mammoth Cave campgrounds.

Ride Your Bikes at Mammoth Cave

The Mammoth Cave National Park is only one of the most beautiful sights in Kentucky.

Explore the area on your bicycle for a unique experience.

You can follow four routes, closed to any motorized vehicle at all times.

The Mammoth Cave Railroad Trail and the Big Hollow Trail combine to measure nine miles.

Meanwhile, the Maple Springs Trail stretches only one mile.

On these trails, you can ride a standard road bike, but only administrative routes allow mountain bikes.

Ride a Horse at Mammoth Cave

Why not spend a week or two at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky?

Likewise, you might want to ride a horse to explore the national park during your stay.

Guests can join a horseback tour along more than 96 kilometers of backcountry routes north of Green River and the Double J Stables.

If you want to take it easy, check the route map and ride side-saddle through the wilderness.

Some paths and campgrounds also accommodate riders on their own horses or horseback riding excursions.

Explore the Frozen Niagara

You might want to join the Frozen Niagara Tour in Mammoth Cave, whether you want a quick or in-depth tour of the national park.

The tour shows visitors some of the cave system's most beautiful sights without venturing too far inside the caves.

It's also easier than other tours and suitable for first-timers and families with young kids.

Likewise, the Frozen Niagara Tour leads guests through Mammoth Cave's Drapery Room, roughly 50 feet below the ground.

Take at least 45 steps to reach the room and climb back up.

The tour lasts about an hour, moving at a leisurely pace.

If you don't want to exert too much effort in exploring Mammoth Cave, join the Frozen Niagara Tour.

Escape the Fat Man's Misery

Fat Man's Misery is a cavern in Mammoth Cave National Park.

It gets its name from park owner Stephen Bishop, nicknamed "Fat Man" by his hunters.

Fat Man's Misery is a real challenge.

The passage is winding, small, and low, with steps descending 20 feet at the end.

Mammoth Cave contains several fascinating features, but the one known as "Fat Man's Misery" stands out above the rest.

You'll enter the shelter about a mile from the historic entrance and enter Fat Man's Misery about 100 feet further.

Many people make it through, despite the challenge.

"Fat Man's Misery" has become one of Mammoth Cave's most sought-after and well-known tunnels.

Enjoy Summer Camping at Nolin Lake State Park

Nolin Lake State Park is the ideal location for summer camping.

It is on the northern border of Mammoth Cave National Park.

In 1963, they dammed the Nolin River to create the 5,795-acre lake, which opened to the public in 1996.

Nolin Lake State Park has 32 campsites with water and electrical hookups and 27 basic camps.

There is also a public beach, bathroom and laundry facilities, and a playground.

You can camp and swim on the sandy shore of the lake.

There are also nature center wildlife exhibits so children can appreciate the presence of real animals.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Do you think you've seen enough?

A few places might be worth visiting before you head home.

Check out these attractions near the Mammoth Cave National Park.

Go Back in Time at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park

Steps leading to Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park's memorial
Nicole Bergman / Shutterstock.com

This national historical park honors Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, a must-see for anybody curious about America's 16th president.

The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park preserves two agricultural areas where Abraham Lincoln lived as a youngster in Kentucky.

These places are his birthplace and boyhood home.

You can find it on Lincoln Farm Road in Hodgenville, Kentucky, less than an hour from Mammoth Cave.

At the birthplace site, visitors can observe a Kentucky cabin from the early 19th century that replicates Lincoln's actual birth cabin.

Log cabin displayed in Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

The cottage is inside the memorial building.

Lincoln resided with his family from ages two to eight at Knob Creek Farm.

Today, the farm is open to visitors.

You can find a historic tavern and a log cabin on this property.

The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is also home to hiking trails and picnic areas.

Front view of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park's memorial
Danae Abreu / Shutterstock.com

Visit the Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument

This national monument awaits you an hour from Mammoth Cave National Park in Nancy, Kentucky.

The Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument is largely unknown, although it is one of the most significant battlegrounds in American history.

The Union Army took control of Bowling Green, Kentucky, in January 1862.

They searched for ways to retaliate against the Confederates invading the state by land and sea.

Mill Springs Battlefield, a small Warren County village, provided the opportunity.

On January 19th, 1862, a Confederate division under General Felix K. Zollicoffer attacked a Union camp.

After losing their leader in combat early in the conflict, the Confederate forces retreated into Tennessee.

Today, people call the site "Zollie Tree," which you can find at the Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument!

Learn about Caves at the American Cave Museum

Visit Hidden River Cave, Kentucky's "cave of wonders," to travel back in time.

This tourist attraction is Horse Cave, Kentucky, just 23 minutes from Mammoth Cave.

Hidden River Cave is home to two underground rivers that originally powered Horse Cave.

You must book a reservation to join longer guided tours.

However, you can visit two fantastic attractions in one place.

In the American Cave Museum, visitors can learn about the cave's history and the neighboring area's geology and archeology.

You can buy exquisite cave rocks, geodes, and fossils in the museum's gift shop.

There are also thrilling zipline tours and vertical cave rappelling challenges available onsite.

Bring the family to the American Cave Museum.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at the Diamond Caverns RV Resort & Golf

Diamond Caverns RV Resort and Golf boasts warm Southern hospitality, ideal for families traveling together.

The 743-acre year-round RV resort at Mammoth Cave National Park's entrance provides a tranquil setting for guests to unwind, explore, and have fun.

It offers full hookup sites, water, electricity, and multiple outdoor activities.

Diamond Caverns RV Resort and Golf also has routes for walking, hiking, bicycling, and local attractions.

The pool is ideal for family tourists and golfers.

The RV resort is in Park City, ten minutes from Mammoth Cave.

Go Kayaking with Green River Canoeing

The waters of Green River
code poet, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the neighboring Cave City for canoeing and kayaking on the Green River.

Kentucky's sloping hills, natural rivers, and streams make it an excellent location for water activities.

Green River Canoeing provides shuttle service and canoe and kayak rentals along the Green River.

Boaters can observe wooded landscapes, breathtaking river cliffs, and native Kentucky wildlife from the water.

You can camp beside the river.

Likewise, you can fish without a license within the park.

For overnight trips, bookings and coordination with local tourism are necessary.

Find Green River Canoeing on Mammoth Cave Road in Cave City, Kentucky, less than 15 minutes from Mammoth Cave.

Get Tanned in Karst Beach

Located in Cave City, Karst Beach is a beautiful place to relax and have fun.

It's six minutes from Mammoth Cave National Park.

It's a floating waterpark at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park at Mammoth Cave, perfect for campers and visitors seeking a memorable summer vacation.

The beach offers a sports park, slides, and small boats that resemble inverted frisbees.

It's also an excellent location for volleyball.

You can also access Witbit, a 1,300-square-foot inflatable sports park, at Karst Beach.

This tourist attraction offers many outdoor activities for the whole family.

Go Sightseeing at the Mountain Top Retreat Cabin Rentals

This all-inclusive getaway is in Cave City, near Mammoth Cave National Park.

The Mountain Top Retreat Cabin Rentals overlook mountains, valleys, and villages.

This retreat features hiking routes, fishing ponds, and magnificent views.

Smoke-free cabins prohibit dogs.

However, they can accommodate service animals if you request them in advance.

Allowing service animals also depends on current inventory.

Short distances separate Dinosaur World from the park's full hookup, pull-through 30 and 50 amp RV sites.

JB's Haunted Mansion, a haunted home with ghosts roaming the hallways, is near the Mountain Top Retreat Cabin Rentals.

Sit and Relax at Rock Cabin Camping

Rock Cabin Camping is on Mammoth Cave Road in Cave City.

Its mission is to provide a clean, quiet, and comfortable location to stay during your vacation to the Caves Region of Kentucky.

They have nine Historic Rock Cabins ranging from one queen bed and a three-room cabin with a full kitchen and bath.

They also have six full hookup RV sites and a bunkhouse that sleeps nine.

Rock Cabin Camping is next to Mammoth Cave National Park, less than ten minutes from the visitor center and Cave City's other attractions.

Celebrate Milestones at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Mammoth Cave

Big Yogi Bear sculpture at Jellystone park's entrance
-stk, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can find Jellystone Park, the sole Kentucky home of Yogi Bear, in South Central Kentucky.

Situated in Cave City, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Mammoth Cave is an ideal location for your special events.

Experience extraordinary times that will help you create memories that should last a lifetime.

Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Mammoth Cave is an all-inclusive facility with 94 air-conditioned cabins and RV/Tent sites that accommodate 50 people each.

It also offers a variety of activities ranging from the Axe Throwing Arena to the 18 Hole Miniature Golf Course.

There's something for everyone at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Mammoth Cave!

Enjoy Group Camping at Singing Hills RV Park & Campground

Singing Hills RV Park & Campground, in Cave City, opens year-round.

It is in the center of Kentucky's spectacular cave region.

From I-65, it's a quick trip to a slew of local hotspots.

Eldon and Beth Brown purchased Singing Hills RV Park & Campground in 2007.

You can enjoy free Wi-Fi throughout the park, a group camping area in the backfield, volleyball, and nice fire pits with grates.

Buy Antiques at Magaline's Antique Mall

Magaline's Antique Mall has operated in Cave City for over 20 years.

The must-stop place offers vintage clothing and vintage hats.

Of course, the shop doesn't only sell fashion items.

They also offer glassware and furniture that you will surely want to decorate your home.

You can also buy old books and beauty shop booths at Magaline's Antique Mall.

Shop for Gifts at Tom's Tee Pee

Tom's Tee Pee is one of Cave City's most prominent gift shops.

They offer various gift items, from collectibles to primitive pottery from Georgia.

Likewise, they sell the most oversized T-shirt and hoodie sportswear selection in the area.

They also offer gifts and souvenirs from around the state, from bone figurines from Peru to fireworks from China.

Charles and Ellen Thomason founded the shop in 1978.

They have something for everyone, such as shirts, knives, flag selections, and jewelry.

Tom's Tee Pee is open daily, allowing you to visit whenever you are in the region.

Enjoy Interactive Activities at Dinosaur World Kentucky

T-Rex sculpture at Dinosaur World Kentucky
Roig61 / Shutterstock.com

Located in Cave City, Dinosaur World is a theme park that educates visitors about world history through interactive and entertaining exhibits.

You may walk amid life-size dinosaur statues and play on a playground with a dinosaur theme.

The facility also offers a fossil excavation tour where children can sift through the sand for small fossils and shark teeth.

Dinosaur replicas around Dinosaur World Kentucky
Roig61 / Shutterstock.com

In the Bone Yard, guests can use brushes to extract a massive skeleton from the sand.

Meanwhile, children can pan for diamonds at the mining sluice.

The on-site prehistoric museum has fossils and information about the region's prehistoric past.

Dinosaur World Kentucky's gift shop sells books, games, and other unique items.

Dinosaur skeleton sculpture at Dinosaur World Kentucky
Roig61 / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Mammoth Cave National Park is truly a wonder of America, and it's also a wonder of the world.

It has more than just tourist attractions—it's also a place to create and nurture memories with your family and friends.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Mammoth Cave National Park!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.