Are you ready to explore the world’s largest known cave system? If so, it’s time to plan a trip to Mammoth Cave National Park! This amazing destination features exciting cave tours, awesome hiking trails, and fantastic scenery in a pristine wilderness. If you’re considering an adventure out here, we recommend a campervan road trip! You’ll find multiple campgrounds in the area, and there are plenty of cool stops along the journey.
Keep reading to learn about where to stop along the way, the outdoor activities to experience within the park, and much more!
About Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is located near Brownsville, Kentucky. This enormous cave system is estimated to be 412 miles long. However, the entire national park spans an area of 52,830 acres. While exploring the cave is the main attraction, the park also features scenic river valleys, stunning forests, and tons of wildlife.
Where to Stop Along the Way
No matter where your road trip begins, adventure is out there. Be sure to stop at the must-see destinations below:
On a northern drive into the area, you can’t pass up the town of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We recommend a stop at Rock City Gardens, which features a magnificent waterfall and scenic hiking trails. This area provides one of the best scenic points in the region! If you want to see more awesome waterfalls in Chattanooga, check out Ruby Falls and Glen Falls. Passing through the great state of Alabama? If so, consider exploring the breathtaking Little River Canyon National Preserve. For some fun beachy vibes, head down to Gulf Shores Public Beach.
If you’re heading west into the park, make a stop in the Red River Gorge Geological Area in eastern Kentucky. Carved by the Red River, this beautiful place is known for its fun hiking, scenic cliffs, and stunning natural bridges. Another cool destination to check out is Natural Tunnel State Park in western Virginia. Here you’ll find a naturally formed tunnel that was created more than a million years ago.
On a southern drive into Mammoth Cave National Park, consider stopping at Indiana Dunes National Park in northern Indiana. This sensational park is known for its amazing beaches, exciting hiking trails, and gorgeous views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding area. If your journey takes you through northern Michigan, you can’t pass up Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This outdoor attraction spans 42 miles along the shore of Lake Superior, featuring stunning rock formations, waterfalls, and sandstone cliffs.
If you’re driving east into the region, you have to check out Lake of the Ozarks. This massive body of water covers 54,000 acres and has 1,150 miles of shoreline. During the winter months, some popular activities include boating, fishing, or simply enjoying the scenic views. Another excellent stop along this drive is Devil’s Den State Park in northwest Arkansas. You’ll witness one-of-a-kind waterfalls in this area, including comfortable campgrounds and loads of hiking trails.
Mammoth Cave National Park: Outdoor Activities Galore
As your road trip continues, you finally make it to Mammoth Cave National Park! While you can’t wait to see the sights and sounds, check out our favorite outdoor activities in the area below:
First things first, you have to check out the massive cave system. This thing is huge!!! However, keep in mind you need a tour ticket to enter the cave. These tickets can sell out fast, so make sure to grab one in advance. Also, it’s important to note there are different cave tours available. You can go for an exhilarating crawling tour where you’re crawling through tight corners, or you can take a peaceful stroll through an open cave. You can also find wheelchair-accessible tours, including long walking tours. Cave exploring is one activity you can’t pass up in this national park!
Aside from walking within a cave, you can also explore the area’s many hiking trails. With over 80 miles of trails to experience, you’ll find hiking adventures for all ability levels. On the south side of the park near the visitor center, check out Cedar Sink Trail. This one-mile route offers impeccable views of the surrounding area, with tons of lush scenery everywhere you look. Other popular trails on the south end include Echo River Springs Loop Trail and Sand Cave Trail.
Looking to get out on the water? If so, we recommend kayaking on the nearby Green and Nolin Rivers. These rivers provide over 30 miles of recreational excitement, which includes canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. While these rivers offer peaceful paddling, they’re also teeming with life. In fact, the Green River is home to over 150 different fish species, including more than 70 species of mussel. Even in the winter months, kayaking is a beloved activity within the park.
Looking for an awesome campground to park your campervan? You’re in luck! The park has three frontcountry campgrounds that provide easy access to the area’s cave tours and other attractions. Furthermore, these campgrounds also offer incredible scenery and comfortable amenities. If you would rather camp in the middle of the wilderness, the park is home to 13 designated backcountry campsites or riverside camping options. This is a sure way to find solitude within this gorgeous wilderness.
Biking is another fantastic activity within the park! This is a great way to experience more terrain, and even get a good workout in the process. One amazing route we recommend is Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail. While a train once rolled through this path, it’s now a 9-mile hike and bike trail. This route offers historic sites, scenic overlooks, and abundant wildlife.
Another calming activity in Mammoth Cave is horseback riding! You can bring your own horse, or commercially guided tours are also available. The park has trails for all ability levels, including wooded backcountry routes and daring ridgeline trails.
Want to make the most of your trip? Check out the following travel tips below:
- Get tour tickets and campground reservations in advance; they can fill quickly
- Talk to a park ranger to get some insider information about the area
- Go kayaking or fishing on a weekday to avoid the big crowds
- Bring warm clothes; the cave and surrounding area can get chilly
Follow these tips to experience this national park to the fullest!
Take a look at the following details to learn more about the area’s top attractions:
- Cedar Sink Trail: Begins at Cedar Sink Trailhead
- Echo River Springs Loop Trail: Starts at Green River Ferry
- First Creek Trail: Begins at First Creek Trailhead
- Mammoth Cave Campground: 2811 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259
- Houchin Ferry Campground: Houchins Ferry Road, Brownsville, KY 42210
- Maple Springs Group Campground: Maple Springs Loop Road, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259
Aside from the gigantic cave, Mammoth Cave National Park is home to several other attractions and hot spots. Check out the following hidden gems in the area:
- Elephant Head Arch
- Grotto Falls
- Hobbit Hole Arch
- Eye Socket Falls
- Temple Hill Twin Arches
These areas feature the peaceful, astonishing beauty of the region.
Start Your Cave-Exploring Expedition Today!
If you’re ready for a unique road trip you may never forget, head over to Mammoth Cave National Park. However, before starting your journey, consider purchasing a new or used campervan from Rec Van! We carry some of the industry’s top RVs and travel vans, all of which are ready for your next outdoor adventure.
Browse through our inventory to find your next van, or call us today for more information!