Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mammoth Caves

On Saturday, we stopped at Mammoth Cave National Park on our way home from Tennessee. Mammoth Cave is located in Kentucky off I-65. It is halfway between Nashville, TN & Louisville, KY (about 85 miles from each). Hubby & I have been before but this was the first time for the kids.

 The Visitor Center is where you can go to sign up for cave tours. We ended up taking 2 tours, The Mammoth Passage Tour & New Passage Tour.

 Here are the Kids & Hubby waiting to go on the Mammoth Passage Tour.

There is an outside trail down to the opening of the cave. Going down is the easy part! 

This is the actual entrance to the cave. You have to go down 80 steps & then back up them at the end! 

The Mammoth Passage takes you into the main natural entrance of the cave. This cave is a limestone cave.

 These are the actual remains of a saltpeter operation in the cave for the War of 1812.

 This picture is a little dark but it is of the flat roof of the cave. It is a big slab of limestone. It is quite beautiful. The cave is so large that even the flash wouldn't let me capture a good picture.

This is one of the cave walls. They restrict you to certain areas in the cave to try & preserve the cave for future generations.

 Here we are back at the natural entrance of the cave. The Mammoth Passage tour is only 1 1/4 hrs long & about 3/4 a mile of walking. You go 160 feet below ground. This tour is rated easy.

 Here's a beautiful waterfall you see as you walk between the cave entrance & the visitor center.

We were waiting for the 2nd tour to begin so thought we'd get a picture. I never can get all 3 smiling at the same time. David was being a goof!

The 2nd Tour we took was the New Entrance Tour. This tour is moderate difficulty & takes 2 hrs. It's 3/4 mile long & you descend 250 feet below ground. The initial drop is 280 stairs down (500 total on this tour)! It is narrow & steep.  The entrance has an airlock chamber. 

 Looking down one of the side shafts. Originally they would descend these shafts on ropes. I think the steps are much better!

Here I am looking down beside the stairs. You can't tell it, but there are 3 flights of stairs below us! The Cave wall is beautiful here.

This is another shaft down. These shafts were naturally made. There are 4 shafts you have to descend to get to the bottom. Then you walk for awhile. There are 2 places you sit & rest on this tour. At one of those places, they turn off all the lights in the cave so you can experience pitch darkness! This did not bother the kids at all!

 After all this walking, the Frozen Niagara is your reward! You can just take the Frozen Niagara tour is you can't handle the steps. It only has 12 stairs with optional 98.

 The stalagmites & stalagmites are beautiful. They glistened from the water slowly dripping down them. My camera does not do it justice! 

 I laughed when I pulled this up on the computer. This is in the Frozen Niagara. Looks like I told them they'd have to stay there! 

The patterns, colors & textures of these Flowstone is beautiful. This is only a small section. It stretches up several stories & inspires awe at the creation of our Mighty God!

 The kids liked this formation. They said it looked like a monster's mouth!

 This area was fenced off. I took this between the fence posts. More of God's beautiful creation!

 More Flowstone.

 Beautiful! Every turn you made in this part of the cave made you eww & aah!

I thought this looked like ice on the edge of a building.

Here some new formations are beginning. The tour guide said the cave is constantly changing.

Here Jessica is showing you the stuffed bunny & bag of rocks she got at the gift shop.

Jamie got 2 stuffed bats at the gift shop. 

David got a canteen & a rubber knife & case.

As we were leaving the park, we saw these 2 deer. In the park we saw over 20 deer and about a dozen wild turkeys. These 2 were just a yard from the road. I could almost have petted them.

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