Our next stop was the National Park. we arrived in the early afternoon, so we visited the Visitor’s center first. I am so glad we did. Mammoth Caves has a Junior Ranger program so the children were able to pick up a workbook and start earning their Junior Ranger badge. We also decided which tours of the caves we were going to take got our maps of the park. Then it was off to dry out our camp gear and set up the tent. Those junior Ranger books kept the children so occupied we hardly knew they were there! Even Gwen was able to do some of the activities. You don’t have to finish the whole book but my boys were determined! When they turned it on two days later it was complete. The Ranger was quite surprised they had finished it and my children are quite proud of their badges.
Deer and wild turkey are quite plentiful in the park. This doe came so close we could almost touch her. At this point we had all ready found 4 ticks on various little bodies so we tried to say away.
Before dinner we took a short bike ride up to the camp store for ice and stopped to look at the old train. It was build just for tourists to come visit the caves, They have been an attraction since the 1800’s when slaves used to lead people down in the earth for a tour.
The next morning we decided upon a two mile hike to see the Mammoth sink dome. This is the indentation above ground where water enters the cave. It was so beautiful in the forest!
That afternoon was our first tour. We chose the Historical tour which begins at the first discovered entrance. We saw where they used to mine saltpetre to make gunpowder, old graffiti form the 1800’s, some of the very large rooms where concerts were held, and even public restrooms! This tour is about 2 hours and two miles long with 480 steps. It had lots of low ceilings and curvy spaces. It was so much fun and so interesting! After our tour the children were pooped! They fell into bed without complaint!
The second day we took the tour from the New entrance. So called because it was dynamited out. This tour is also about 2 hours but it is only 3/4 of a mile in length and has 500 stairs. There was a lot of straight down and straight up! This tour has many more formations to see. We also rode on the park bus to get to the entrance. This of course was a highlight to our homeschooled children. They never get to ride on busses!
After our tour we had a quick lunch at the campsite and then went for a scenic drive up to the Nolin Dam and state park and stopped in one of the small towns for some ice cream!
We then came back for a bike ride, dinner, and then frantic packing as we could tell the storms were coming in! We just made it with packing the truck back before the rain hit. It didn’t rain to long that night but in the morning it poured! We packed up everything as fast as one is able in the pouring rain and drove to our next destination in hopes it wasn’t raining there.