Mammoth Cave National Park is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located in the state of Kentucky and preserves the world's longest known cave system, with over 360 miles of caves. The park was established in 1941 and currently draws nearly two million visitors annually.
Most visitors access the park from two roadways which have interchanges with Interstate 65, one near Park City, Kentucky (KY 255) and the other near Cave City (KY 70). KY 70 also enters the park from the west side of the park, near Brownsville. No entrance fee is charged. No public transportation is available. The nearest commercial airports are in Louisville and Nashville.
The National Park Service offers several cave tours to visitors. Many of the most famous features of the cave, such as Grand Avenue, Frozen Niagara, and Fat Man's Misery, can be seen on lighted tours ranging from one to six hours in length. Two tours, lit only by visitor-carried paraffin lamps, are popular alternatives to the electric-lit routes. Several "wild" tours venture away from the developed parts of the cave into muddy crawls and dusty tunnels.
The park's tours are notable for the quality of the interpretive program, with occasional graphics accompanying artifacts on display at certain points in the cave. The lectures delivered by the National Park Service cave guides are varied by tour, so that in taking several tours the visitor learns about different facets of the cave's formation, or of the cave's human history and prehistory. Most guides are quite knowledgeable and open to visitor's questions. Many guides include a "theatrical" component, making their presentations entertaining with gentle humor. The guide traditions at Mammoth Cave date back to the period just after the War of 1812, and to guides such as Stephen Bishop. The style of this humor itself is part of the living tradition of the cave guides, and is duly a part of the interpretive program.
The Echo River Tour, one of the cave's most famous attractions, used to take visitors on a boat ride along an underground river. The tour was discontinued for logistic and environmental reasons in the early 1990s.
A restaurant is located at the Mammoth Cave Hotel. This is the only public food service within the park proper. Fast-food restaurants are found in Cave City (McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Long John Silver's, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen), as well as Cracker Barrel and Jerry's family-style restaurants, and three independent restaurants. More dining options are found ten miles east of Cave City in Glasgow, or 28 miles south in Bowling Green.
Motel and camping facilities are available within the park itself. National chain motels can be found in nearby Cave City and Park City. There are also Bed and breakfasts located just minutes from the park.