Vacation trip day 2: Mammoth Cave National Park

Back to archive

Mammoth Cave entrance sign

On the first actual day of our vacation, we rose early to spend the day in Mammoth National Park. After a disappointing but not entirely unexpected breakfast, we drove the 5 miles from our hotel to the park. It was a beautiful drive. On the way, we passed a billboard advertising kayak rentals, and agreed that we wanted to do that after the tours.

Mouth of Mammoth Cave

Our first tour started at 9. We walked from the meeting point at the Visitor's Center to the main entrance of the cave. The surrounding woods and the mouth of the cave were gorgeous, and the cold air from the cave was a stark change from the hot air in the woods.

The History tour was pretty good overall. The cave was impressive, the tour guide and her presentation on the history of the cave were decent, but the other members of the tour group got on my nerves. A lot of young kids that were noisy and excited, and a large group of high school kids. Definitely cool, but I was hoping for more in the second tour.

Stalactites in Mammoth Cave

The Domes and Dripstone tour did not disappoint. The tour guide was an animated young woman, the presentation was more interesting, the section of the cave was more interesting , and the group was a lot better. The large, open rooms and time-tested passageways of the first tour were cool, but the stalactites and more varied areas in the second were amazing. It was great, I would definitely recommend it over the seemingly more popular history tour.

After the tours I was starving, so we ate a quick lunch at the Sonic across the street from our hotel. After a brief rest, we were off to the kayak shop that we passed earlier.

Green River

The route we would be taking on Green River was slightly longer than we anticipated at 7.5 miles, but we excitedly followed the guide from the shop to the river nonetheless. I'd never kayaked before, so I was a little worried about being terrible at it and capsizing the craft. Thankfully, it's pretty straightforward and I got the hang of it pretty quickly.

The river and its banks were breathtakingly beautiful. I certainly see why it's named the Green River—the murky color of the water—the lush forest surrounding it is certainly a sight. With the gentle rock of the water, the warm sun, and the absence of noise aside from the rushing water and the wildlife of the forest, it was incredibly peaceful. The water level was higher than normal, the woman at the rental stop had told us, and we should be finishing in about 2­–2.5 hours she had told us. Because we had no idea how quickly people normally float—and because neither of us have any concept of time or distance—we had no idea how long it had been since we started, or how far we had gone for almost the entire journey.

Near the end we came across two other kayakers, and one of them happened to be the granddaughter of the couple that rented us the kayaks. She filled us in on what time it was and how close we were to the end. We completed the journey in about 2.5 hours indeed after we and our vessels were once again on land.

It was 6 by the time we were driving back toward the town from the river. We stopped in a few gift shops on the way back to the hotel, and then I took a shower because I was covered in an unpleasant mixture of sunscreen, sweat, and dirty water. Afterward we ate dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant with pretty good food, and after another brief rest in the room we got Blizzards from the nearby DQ.

We have another long day on the road ahead of us tomorrow, so that's all for today.

I've included the entire album for the day below. Looking back on these now, I need a steadier hand when taking photos. I was trying to not hold up people behind me in the tour, but as a result there are a lot of blurry photos. I'll try to keep this in mind for the rest of the trip.

Google Photos album