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We were thrilled to pull up to the check-in station here at Mammoth Cave Campground and be offered one of their two full hook up sites for the week. During the busy season I suspect these two sites are normally reserved for camphosts, but while we're here in late March there are no camphosts on duty. These two sites, like the rest of the campground, are first come first serve this time of year and normally $50 per night. With our Senior Access Pass we got it for $25. Overnight temperatures are expected below freezing for the second half of our visit here so we jumped right on it.

The campground has four separate loops and over 100 campsites. Even though our site doesn't have a great view like some of the others, we're glad to have the utilities to run our portable space heaters at night.


YEAR #2 - STOP #20

"The Bluegrass State"
is our 11th visited state

With just a short two hour drive almost due north of our last stop we entered into a new state for us, Kentucky, our 11th visited state overall.

While we are here in Kentucky we'll visit a National Park and several State Parks before moving eastward towards New England, our summer destination. Mammoth Cave National Park is our seventh visited National Park and our first since last October.



Before the weekend crowds get here we decided to book our first of three tours into Mammoth Cave. These tours were booked weeks ago and we're glad we did, every tour on everyday this week is sold out! And this isn't even the busy season!

As our first tour of the week we went with the moderately difficult Historic Tour. It is 2 miles over 2 hours and includes 540 stairs, both up and down.

It is called the Historic Tour because it enters and leaves through a natural entrance to Mammoth Cave. This is the portion of the cave that was first discovered and toured back in the 1820s and 1830s, it wasn't until later that more passageways were discovered and then additional entrances created. Today there are over 400 miles of passageways that have been mapped, but they're not done yet because there are still more to be explored.

Mammoth Cave Historic Entrance
Descending into the Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave

After our cave tour we went into the nearby small town of Cave City to locate some groceries. This turned out to be almost as difficult as our cave tour. After four different stops we finally had located all of the items on our short grocery list. We should have just drove the 18 miles to the nearest Walmart in the bigger city of Glascow, KY and been done with it! Lesson learned.

Being as how it is still early in the season there are plenty of twigs and broken branches on the ground. There haven't been enough campers here to pick the campground area clean of free firewood. We found enough to collect and have a campfire, so that's what we did. We also invited a fellow Airstreamer who is camped nearby and our neighbors in the campsite next to us. All six of us shared life stories and traveling experiences around our campfire, along with chips, snacks, beer and wine. Now that's what makes a good campfire!



Today started off as a work day, but by mid-afternoon we were ready to get out and stretch our legs. Tricia walks for exercise most mornings, but for me, yesterday's cave tour was about as much walking as I've done in awhile and my legs were bothering me a little.

There is a short Ranger led walk around Sloan Crossing Pond today and it looks like the weather is clearing up for us. There wasn't much wildlife to view but we did learn a lot about the history and geology of Sloan Crossing Pond. It was only a short 30 minute stroll and we had plenty of daylight left to sightsee. So off to Maple Springs Campground we went for a little scouting mission. The campground was only 7 sites and it is geared towards groups and equestrian campers, not for us.

To get to Maple Springs Campground from the main Mammoth Springs Campground you'll have to cross the Green River. To do so you'll have to get onboard a free car ferry which will transport three cars at a time across the river. The ferry is guided across by very heavy cables anchored high up in the mountainside to keep it from floating up or down river in the very strong currents.

Also on the other side of Green River lies the old community of Good Spring. About all that is left to see here is an old church and cemetery. There is also a small park which looked like an abandoned campground which the local mountain bikers use as a parking lot to ride the trails in this area.

The trailhead for the Sloan Crossing Pond Boardwalk (.04 mile)
The only wildlife we saw today on our short walk around Sloan Crossing Pond
Have you ever seen this road sign?
If you do, keep your eye out for this!
Monster sized pulley guiding us safely across the Green River
The Good Spring Baptist Church (est. 1842)
Every old church seems to have it's own cemetery next door



Once again the day started out as a work day and by early afternoon we were out exploring on another Ranger led hike. This one was another short .4 mile hike to see the Echo River Spring area of the park.

There is so much more to at Mammoth Cave National Park than just visiting the cave and these above ground tours are all free and easy to do. This tour was about the water that flows out of the cave and eventually into the Green River via the Echo River Spring.



Today we are attempting the most strenuous of all the walking tours offered here at Mammoth Cave, the 4 hour/4 mile/700 stairs of the Grand Avenue Tour. The tour starts out descending the nearly 200 stairs straight down at The Carmichael Entrance and ends 4 miles later at the Frozen Niagara Entrance where all the dripstone formations can be found.

After traversing the easiest part of the tour at the one mile mark they offer you a one time option to abandon the tour. There is an elevator to the surface at this location that was installed when they operated a small restaurant in the cave. After more than 50 years they ceased operations in 2013 when it no longer was profitable to operate. The elevator is still in use today as the entrance and exit for a special half mile tour offered to those physically unable to do any of the standard tours. It's nice that special need persons can also experience a small portion of Mammoth Cave.

Carmichael Entrance
Looking back up the 200 stairs of Carmichael Entrance to Mammoth Cave

Frozen Niagara
The Frozen Niagara formation near the end of the tour



It was all work and no play today!

Well at least until it was dinner time when we started another one of our FREE campfires and cooked up a few hots dogs to go with the last of our potato salad and coleslaw.

I can't exactly call a campfire work because we enjoy them so much!



This is our last day in Mammoth Cave National Park and as such this will be our last Mammoth Cave tour. It's the Violet City Lantern Tour and it's 3hour/3 mile/160 stairs and numerous hills are rated strenuous.

The cool factor of this tour was that there was no electric lighting and only a few handrails, instead every fourth or fifth guest was carrying a lantern. No flash photography (as on all the tours here) or this time even flashlights were permitted on the trip. It gave everyone an experience similar to what the early tourists from the 1800s got when exploring the cave.

Violet City Lanterns
Our only source of light while on this tour

Violet City Lanterns
Here is all we saw most of the time

• • • 100 MILE • • •


With 9 miles of underground hiking here at
Mammoth Cave National Park
our annual total is now up to 12 miles.

Who will be the first to correctly guess our next location?

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