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10 Awesome Facts About Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave is an extremely large system of caverns and national park in the southeast United States. I visited the Mammoth Cave National Park and toured the cave myself recently, I hadn’t been there since I was a kid so it was fun to see the cave again. Below I’m going to list 10 facts about Mammoth Cave as well as show you a few pictures of the caves.


The cave itself sees over 500,000 visitors each year. An additional 1.5 million visitors go to the national park for a total over over 2 million yearly visitors.

entrance to Mammoth Cave

Facts about Mammoth Cave National Park

1. Where is mammoth cave located?

The National Park is located near Brownsville Kentucky in the United States, 23 miles northeast of Bowling Green. The majority of national park resides in Edmunson County Kentucky, but small portions extend into Barren and Hart counties. It takes up a total of 52,830 acres in these counties.

2. How did mammoth cave get its name?

The name of the cave simply refers to the massive size, it has nothing to do with the extinct wooly mammoth. The gigantic passages that connect to the huge rotunda, or room, inside the main entrance are very impressive. This is how mammoth cave got its name.

sign in the visitor’s center about the cave

3. How was the cave system formed?

Mammoth cave was formed as surface water seeped through the ground and eroded the limestone creating the gigantic caverns and passageways you can see today when you visit mammoth cave. This process still happens to this day so technically mammoth cave is always growing larger.

4. When was mammoth cave discovered?

It is believed by Anthropologists that Native Americans first discovered Mammoth Cave 4,000 years ago. However the massive cavern was discovered in 1791 by John Houchin or brother Francis Houchin, officially. Even this is not for certain. The cave was mined during the War of 1812, with slaves doing the majority of the work.

5. When was Mammoth Cave National Park established?

The National Park was established on July 1st, 1941 and became a world heritage site o October 27th, 1981. A world heritage site has historic significance and is protected by international treaties. Then on September 26th, 1990 it was named a Biosphere Reserve.

6. Has all of mammoth cave been explored?

According to an article by Courier Journal, there may still be portions of the cave yet to be discovered. Mapping out a cave is no easy task, and one of the largest caves in the world that is hundreds of miles long is even more difficult. I don’t find it surprising in the least that the cave may still hold hidden secrets.

image: Daniel Schwen | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

7. How long is mammoth cave?

Mammoth cave is over 400 miles long and is by far the longest cave in the world. The second longest cave is Sistema Sac Actun, an underwater cave system in Mexico and is almost half the length of mammoth cave at only 215 miles long.

8. How deep is the bottomless pit in mammoth cave?

The bottomless pit is 105 feet deep and a man named Stephen Bishop was the first to ever cross the pit in the 1830s. Once the pit was crossed, many new discoveries were made. The areas prior to the pit being crossed were known as the old cave.

9. What is the temperature inside the cave?

The temperature inside mammoth cave stays at a pretty constant 54 degrees. It can vary by a few degrees but deeper into the cave, away from an entrance and the surface where outdoor weather cannot affect the temperature, it stays the same year round. Closer to the entrance it can reach closer to 60 degrees.

This pretty much goes for all caves but the actual average temperature will vary depending on the location of the cave. The cave temperature will usually be about what the average yearly temperature is for the area it is located.

10. How big is the largest room inside the cave?

The rotunda is the most famous room in the cave and can be seen on the 30 minute discovery tour. There are many vast caverns and massive rooms in mammoth cave. Last up, and one of the coolest facts about Mammoth Cave, is that the largest room in mammoth cave is said to be about 2 acres in size. That’s pretty huge!

exiting Mammoth Cave

If you are considering visiting this national park, there are many other activities you do without going into the cave at all. The park has camping, hiking, canoeing and more. Thousands of people visit the park each week and it is really a must see destination if you are even remotely interested in caves. I remember going as a kid and plan to take my kids in the near future. Visit the official website for more info.

Here are a few options for lightweight backpacks to explore caves.

Written by Mark Stone

Mark is a native Tennesseean that frequently visits the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg area. He enjoys exploring National Parks, writing, and spending time with his family.


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