Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cave Exploration

While at Bowling Green, we visited two very different caves - Mammoth and Lost River. Both were not quite what I expected.

Mammoth Cave was designated a National Park in 1926. Unlike most caves I've toured, Mammoth doesn't have many of the typical interesting formations. Rather its claim to fame is 365 miles of explored passageways, more than twice as long as any known cave. And geologists think there could be as many as 600 miles still undiscovered.

The crowds were unbelievable to me. I guess I'm not used to being a summer tourist. Our tour group consisted of about 100 people. We were bussed to the 'New Entrance' which had been discovered by throwing dynamite into a sink hole!

After descending 280 steps down some vertical shafts, we made our way through what looked to me like underground slot canyons. I was glad Peggy had on bright clothing - it was hard to see down there.

Although the tour was only 3/4 mile long, it seemed longer underground. Since we were near the back of the group, it involved a lot of catching up. Mike commented, "This isn't a tour, it's a workout!" The group only stopped twice for ranger talks, but I don't know how you can do much more with a group of that size.

After traipsing what seemed like miles, there was one area at the end of the tour that had some pretty formations. Here's some nice flowstone . . .

And some stalactites and stalagmites. That's more like it.

They do have several different tours at Mammoth and maybe I would have liked another one better. This one just didn't do much for me.

Another day the group visited Lost River Cave which is a National Historic Landmark. I thought, "Cool, a boat ride through a cave - that's unusual." Well, once again I was disappointed.

We had some willing strangers take our picture while we waited for our guide. My photographer did a great job.

We all piled into the boat and posed for the obligatory souvenir picture. Shockingly, I actually bought it - paid good money. But it is kind of cute, don't you think?

The tour guide did a really good job and told us lots of history about the cave. I thought the most interesting fact was that there was a nightclub at the cave entrance from 1933 until the early 1960's. Now they rent that area out for weddings and such.

The most exciting part was when we had to duck under the low ceiling.

The cave opened up and, although the tour guide was informed and interesting, I think we were all surprised when we came to the turnaround point after only going about 200 yards. Once again, I had expected more.

After the boat tour, we walked the Blue Hole Trail. The blue holes are actually places where the roof of the cave collapsed. Hopefully a long time ago. The holes were more green than blue because heavy rain the night before stirred up the sediment.

And Wanda tried her hand at panning for gemstones - nothing yet.

The best part of the day was when we had ice cream at the local creamery. Yum!


  1. Really good read, and very good photographs. Terry

  2. I really enjoyed the group photos. I clicked the picture, it enlarged to fill my screen and I could see EVERYONE! I, too, would expect a boat tour to be more than 200 yards.

  3. Great post -- but having been to Sonora Caverns in Texas, I think I would be disappointed in any other ones. They were really spectacular.

  4. Great photos of the cave, and of all those spelunkers.