The Underground World

Undeniably the purest air you can imagine exists underground in chambers such as Mammoth Cave located in Kentucky. There is something about being in this underground exhibit that provides a deep caress of serenity. As you tour the caves feels like you are surrounded by a cocoon of freshness. That was the experience I had when I took my children to Mammoth Cave a few months ago. Since COVID-19 was a concerning factor and Disney World was out, I planned vacations that would allow us safer yet exciting options. Therefore, I gathered the kids and we headed for the popular National Park.

Many caves are open to the public to explore and admire in Southern Indiana and Kentucky. However, I found Mammoth Cave to be an intriguing area to visit after studying about the park and their COVID safety procedures online. Although the drive wasn’t bad, the main thing anyone should keep in mind is the firm warning given on nps.gov. “DON’T TRUST YOU VEHICLE NAVIGATION SYSTEM/GPS. Vehicle Navigation Systems and GPS units may provide inaccurate information.”

This warning is not to be taken lightly. Thankfully, I printed the instructions on how to arrive at the visiting center before departing from home. Sadly, my sense of direction is not always top-notch. I still got turned around and since my cell phone signal was unavailable there was no way to call for assistance. Before long we found our way and made it with time to spare before our afternoon scheduled tour. When I travel, I try to always think ahead, especially when traveling with my kiddos. I made sure to prepurchase tickets for the self-guided tour online prior. When we arrived tickets were sold out, but we were able to pass by the disappointed and head straight for a space in the shade where one of the park rangers gave us all the instructions and safety procedures required before entering the cave.

After we were fully informed, we took the descending pathway that led to the entrance of the cave. At that moment I realized just how many other parents had the same idea as me. It was not very crowded, but we did wait in a brief line before taking the stairs that took us into the well-lit darkness. Mammoth Cave is made up of three trials. We took the shorter of the three and a portion of one of the longer paths. Along the journey informational stands are in place to explain how the caves formed and why they were used by Native Americans. Though the cave tours are self-guided at this time, rangers were placed throughout and available to answer questions and give short history lessons.  

Mammoth Cave National Park has plenty to do besides touring the cave or hiking. Other activities include bicycling, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, and stargazing. The park has many ranger-led programs that are a lot of fun for the entire family, however, due to COVID-19 most of, if not all, are canceled at this time. Mammoth Cave was definitely a memorable experience for the kids and me. We wore our mask and even latex gloves when we needed to. To keep us extra safe I was sure to pack lunch and breakfast for us to enjoy so we kept restaurant pick-up to a minimum. Next summer, I plan to continue to take the kids to state parks for more outdoor adventures, except I think it’s time to go west!

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