Planning Your Trip to Mammoth Cave

Are you heading to Mammoth Cave soon?  We’d love to help you prepare for your trip by showing you some great resources to help you and your family learn more about Mammoth Cave before you go!

Mammoth Cave National Park Pin

One of the best ways we’ve found for our family to prepare for epic adventures is to GO EDUCATED. 

For us this is a two-fold process. 

The first part involves all the LOGISTICS.  All the little details of a destination can make or break a great trip, so make sure you cover them well.

Here are a few tips for things to make sure you know before you go:
-Get a good address for wherever you're heading that you can use in the GPS.  -Know the days and hours the place you're heading is open and maybe even when peak and off-peak hours and seasons are. 
-Know where you plan to park.
-Know if there’s food nearby or you need to pack a meal and/or snacks. (It NEVER hurts to pack snacks even when you think you have all the food arrangements covered, hungry travelers aren't happy travelers!)
-Know what the weather forecast is for the day and make sure everyone is dressed appropriately for it and for the activities we have planned.

The second part is more fun than figuring out all of the logistics.  It’s building EXCITEMENT by LEARNING all about the place you’re planning to visit.  Knowing a bit about a place and what you can expect to see and to do helps get everyone excited for the adventure!      

You can do this many ways:
-Read great books with lots of pictures of your destination.
-Listen to a podcast about it.
-Watch someone journey there and vlog about it on YouTube.
-Watch videos/documentaries to learn all about the place.
-Talk to someone else who has been there all about what they saw and did.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats fill the sky at Alabaster Caverns State Park in Oklahoma.

A few years ago, we visited our first cave with our kids and we had a wonderful time, in part because we prepared well.  We covered all the logistics so there were no stressors with times/locations/food, etc.  We checked out tons of books from the library all about caves and bats.  We watched videos and worked through the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Cave Scientist book.  We talked about what to expect to see.  By the time we left for our trip our kids were thoroughly excited, well-prepared, and in high anticipation of exploring their first cave!

So, if you’re planning your first trip to Mammoth Cave, let me help you get started in educating your family about the cave with our list of websites, resources, and videos all about Mammoth. 

Before we get started, let's cover a couple bonus tips about Mammoth and caves in general...

Don’t forget to do the logistics end of your research well ahead of time!  Mammoth’s tours sell out so make sure you go ahead and pre-purchase your cave tour tickets.  Dress your family for success in comfortable walking shoes with a bit of tread since cave walkways can be damp and slightly slippery at times.  Keep in mind it’s much cooler in a cave too, so even if it’s super-hot outside, you may enjoy your time underground better if you have a light jacket to wear in the cave. 

One other tip about visiting a cave with young children is to prepare your children for the fact that caves are dark.  On some cave tours, the tour guides even turn out all of the lights so you can experience what true, total darkness is like.  It is so interesting when they do this, but for an unprepared child who’s afraid of the dark it could be quite scary.  Talk with your children about this beforehand and discuss any fears they may have and give them ways to cope…hold your hand, wear a glow in the dark bracelet, maybe even practice walking around outside after dark at your house a few times before your trip. Whatever you do to prepare your children will be time well spent and you’ll help ensure your entire family has a wonderful cave adventure!  Take the fear out of the unknown and replace it with excitement!

And lastly, if you’re looking for a super-fun way to get your kids excited about your trip, our American Heritage Adventure from Mammoth Cave is a wonderful way to read about some of the adventures you can have at the cave.  You can grab that letter HERE!

Mammoth Cave Letter

Mammoth Cave National Park Website

Visit Mammoth Cave's official NPS Website

Plan Your Trip to Mammoth Cave National Park with a former Park Ranger

Let Ash, a former park ranger, at the travel blog Dirt in my Shoes give you all the tips and scheduling tricks you need to have an epic time at Mammoth Cave!

Junior Ranger Cave Scientist

Learn all about caves & get your Junior Ranger Cave Scientist Patch here!

Karst Topography Paper Model

Learn more about caves and create your own karst model with the Junior Rangers here!

Enter the Cave & Karst Art Contest

You can find all the details about each year's contest right here!

Watch some Videos!

 Learn all about Mammoth Cave with the following videos:

Mammoth Cave Exploration

 Rock the Park: Mammoth Cave

Go Traveler: Mammoth Cave

The Longest Cave: The Flint Ridge / Mammoth Cave Connection, 1972

Amazing Caves Video

We LOVE this IMAX video all about exploring caves and have watched it countless times!  Journey Into Amazing Caves IMAX DVD


Caves and Caverns by Gail Gibbons

Caves (Nature in Action) by Stephen Kramer

Caves (Learning about Landforms) by Ellen Labrecque

Exploring Mammoth Cave National Park by Johnny Molloy

Mammoth Cave National Park Trail Map

There you have it!  All of our ideas to help you building EXCITEMENT by LEARNING all about Mammoth Cave before you visit!


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