Friends latest news
Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour opens October 1
Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour opens October 1
Friday, September 09, 2016
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., September 9, 2016 – Superintendent Sarah Craighead announced today that October 1, 2016, marks the opening on the Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour. The tour is now available for purchase/reservation on
“We are very pleased to be able to offer an accessible cave tour again,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “We suspended use of the elevator in 2002 when a cable broke, which led to a full renovation. Now, after 14 years and a $2.2 million repair project, the cave elevator is back in safe operation allowing us to resume accessible cave tours.”
The Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour will be offered daily at 12:30 p.m. during the fall and winter seasons, limited to 14 people. The cost is $20 for adults, $14 for youth (6-12), and $10 for those with an Access Pass/Senior Pass. The interagency, life-time Access Pass and Senior Pass are available at the ticket office. The Access Pass is free with proof of disability; the Senior Pass costs $10 for those who are 62 years or older.
Reservations are recommended for all cave tours;, or 1-877-444-6777.
Below is the tour description:
Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour
See unique gypsum formations, historic cave writing and more on accessible cave trails. Using the elevator entrance, this ½-mile round trip provides visitors with special needs an opportunity to visit the Snowball Room and includes portions of the Cleaveland Avenue Tour and Grand Avenue Tour.
· 2 hours, ½ mile. Tour limit: 14. Total stairs: 0. Elevation change: 267'.
· Please note that transportation or mobility assistive devices such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers or canes are permitted on this tour, but are not available. NPS employees will not transport or aid visitors in using assistive equipment. If visitors need assistance with the Park’s accessible features, they must bring a companion with them for aid. Assistive devices will need to be decontaminated upon exiting the cave to limit the spread of White-Nose Syndrome.
· Accessible restrooms are available.
· Meets at the Visitor Center; participants and their companions will caravan by private vehicle to the elevator entrance. Difficulty: Easy.

New Concession Operator Selected
Monday, August 01, 2016

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., August 1, 2016 – Mammoth Cave National Park officials announced that MCNP ONP, LLC, has been selected to provide commercial services at Mammoth Cave under the terms of a new 15-year concessions contract, effective January 1, 2017.  MCNP ONP is owned by Ortega National Parks, LLC, a family-run company with nearly 20 years of operating experience as a park concessioner.

“I am very pleased to announce Ortega National Parks as the new concessioner at Mammoth Cave,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead.  “The concessions operation is central to a visitor’s experience at the park.  Ortega’s business plan outlines a straight-forward commitment to exceptional guest services, a strong environmental ethic, and a focus on resource preservation that aligns with the mission of Mammoth Cave National Park.  We look forward to working together over the next 15 years.”

The services under the new concessions contract include lodging, food/ beverage, and retail services at Mammoth Cave Hotel, along with tour bus transportation and equipment rental.  The new contract will require some enhancements to the services and facilities, including modification to the food service and retail areas.

"We're excited to get to Mammoth Cave and begin managing concession operations," said Emily Ortega, Senior Vice President. "We aim for a seamless transition, for both current employees and park visitors.  We'll do our best to offer jobs to as many current employees as possible.  We recognize that so many of them have been dedicated to this park for a long time already.  We're also eager to see some of our ideas for the park come to life as we begin to offer more local and sustainable merchandise in the gift shops, bring more local and sustainable ingredients into the food service, and increase environmental measures throughout concession operations."

Ortega National Parks, LLC is primarily owned by Armand Ortega, who founded his first operations over forty years ago.  The family business began as National Park Concessioners at Bandelier and White Sands National Monuments and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  In the last ten years they have expanded to have contracts with 12 national parks or monuments from Maine to Hawaii, as well as Colossal Cave County Park in Tucson, Arizona.  At each operation, they take pride in learning about the park at which they serve and incorporating the park themes into as much of their business operations as possible.  They recognize that each park has different needs from its concessioners and work hard to enter each operation as an entirely new business.

The selection of the new park concessioner is the result of a competitive process that is required by the National Park Service Concessions Management Improvement Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-391).  An interdisciplinary team of NPS professionals from across the nation reviewed, analyzed and rated the proposals to ensure that the selected concessioner was capable of providing the best experience for visitors and protection of park resources.

The award of this new concessions contract concludes 16 years of visitor services by Forever Resorts, LLC, the current operator of Mammoth Cave Hotel.

“We thank Forever Resorts for its dedicated service, particularly during the recent hotel renovations,” said Craighead.  “The staff have gone above and beyond to ensure the traveling public received true Kentucky hospitality.”

The new contract will provide long-term stability for the Mammoth Cave National Park concession operation, which employs more than 100 area residents.

For more information about concession operations in the park, please visit the park’s website at  For more information on Ortega National Parks, visit

Mammoth Cave National Park proposes to raise some fees
Friday, June 17, 2016

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., June 17, 2016 – Acting Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Tracy Stakely announced today that the Park is seeking public comment on a change in fees, which would take effect January 1, 2017.  The authority to charge recreational fees at national parks stems from the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. 

“We would like to hear what the public thinks about our proposal to increase or charge new fees,” said Stakely.  “The changes are all related to educational tours, many of which the park has previously provided at no charge.”

The proposed changes in the park’s fee structure include:
•         Increase an existing fee:  The educational cave tour rate would increase from $5 to $6 per student/chaperone.  This fee has not changed since it was implemented in 2004. 
•         New fee:  The Environmental Education program has traditionally been free to participating schools.  The proposed fee will initiate the $6 per student fee for all in-park Environmental Education programs.
•         New fee:  Park staff have traditionally presented customized programs requested by higher education groups free of charge.  The proposed fee will initiate a new fee of $15/student for programs lasting up to two hours, and $25/student for programs lasting two to four hours. 

Park staff are required to compare Mammoth Cave’s fees with those charged at other government facilities and privately operated businesses.  For example, Lowell National Historical Park (MA) charges $7.50/student;  Fire Island National Seashore (NY) charges $5/student; and local environmental education providers charge $6-$7.50.  The cost of adult education experiences at other national parks is similar to the park’s proposed fee for higher education.

“I spoke personally with several local teachers,” said Jennifer Shackelford, who coordinates the park’s environmental education program.  “Most agreed this was a reasonable fee for the learning experience students receive with rangers in the park.”

“The recreation fee program has funded millions of dollars in initiatives and projects at Mammoth Cave,” added Stakely.  “Fees have funded renovations to the concessions facilities, construction of Big Hollow Trail and Maple Springs Trailhead, and backcountry trail repairs.  Fees also cover the cost of tour guide salaries and mitigate against the spread of White-Nose Syndrome in bats.”

Written comments may be submitted June 17 through July 18, 2016, through the National Park Service (NPS) planning website at  Written comments may also be submitted by mail to:  Superintendent, Mammoth Cave National Park, P.O. Box 7, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259.

It is the practice of the NPS to make all comments, including names and addresses of respondents who provide that information, available for public review.  Individuals may request that the NPS withhold their name and/or address from public disclosure.  Commentators must state this prominently at the beginning of their comment and check the box "keep my contact information private."  NPS will honor such requests to the extent allowable by law, but may still be required to disclose a commentator’s name and address pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.  All submissions from organizations, businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses will be made available for public inspection in their entirety.

Thursday, May 26, 2016
On June 11, 2016

Specially commissioned works to be performed at grand natural venues
Imagine hearing the sounds of classical music reverberating through the chambers of Mammoth Caves or echoing across the Cascade Mountains. This summer, an ensemble of Eastman School of Music smusicians is performing from sea to shining sea, bringing newly composed works to majestic locations during the National Park Service’s centennial year celebrations.
“In this increasingly digital age, it’s easy to forget that for most of its history music has been inspired by the natural world, whether that meant the imitation of birdsong or exploring man’s relationship with his surroundings,” said flutist Emlyn Johnson, who initiated and directs the Music in the American Wild project. “We are excited to celebrate and reconnect with the creative spark offered by our own backyard wilderness, and we hope to inspire audiences and other artists to connect with our national parks through creative acts.”
Eleven composers and eight performers, all affiliated with Eastman, have come together to fill iconic American locations with a new opus of inherently American music. Beginning June 9 in Locust Grove, a National Historic Landmark in Louisville, Ky., Music in the American Wild will enhance visitors’ experiences in 12 national parks and historic sites: Mammoth Cave National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, The Theatre at Washington, Virginia, Shenandoah National Park, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, San Juan Island National Historical Park, Chapel Performance Space in Seattle, North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and Olympic National Park along with Locust Grove and the George Eastman Museum, a National Historic Landmark in Rochester, N.Y.

Scenic Natural Vistas are Concert Backdrop

Johnson, who received her Bachelor of Music in 2008 and her Doctor of Musical Arts in 2015 at Eastman, was inspired to launch Music in the American Wild two years ago while hiking in New York’s Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” She commissioned 11 works that celebrate specific places or explore abstract ideas about humans’ relationship with nature, and recruited fellow musicians who share her passion for the outdoors to perform them.
Working in locations ranging from caves to mountaintops to indoor theaters, Johnson is setting up and tailoring each acoustic concert program to its venue so that listeners can hear and enjoy how the music interacts with the environment. An anonymous donation of Luis and Clark instruments—a carbon fiber cello, violin, and viola—is helping Johnson solve some of the challenges of outdoor performance. The carbon fiber instruments, she noted, are stronger and hardier in different environmental conditions such as changing humidity, and produce a powerful sound that can be heard clearly outdoors. 
Field recordings and short videos made along the Music in the American Wild tour will be streamed and archived online. In the fall, the musicians will present a concert at their alma mater and head into the studio to make a formal recording of the music. 
In addition to the anonymous instrument gift and in-kind support, Music in the American Wild was awarded a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works/Imagine Your Parks grant. The NEA is granted funding by Congress, where U.S.  Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., is long-time chair of the Arts Caucus.
“We are thrilled at the NEA’s recognition of Music in the American Wild, which makes it possible for us to bring music to audiences across the country and inspire a new generation of listeners to become stewards of two of our country’s greatest assets: the arts and the parks,” said Johnson.

Tourism to Mammoth Cave NP creates $48 million in Economic Benefits
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Report shows visitor spending supports 749 jobs in local economy

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., April 21, 2016 – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 566,895 visitors to Mammoth Cave National Park in 2015 supported 749 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $48 million.
“We join with our Caveland tourism partners in welcoming and serving visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead.  “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service.  We see the impact locally, as well.”
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.  The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.
According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).
To download the report visit
The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

Campgrounds, picnic area open for the season
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., February 22, 2016 – Park campgrounds and picnic areas will open for the season in the coming week.  Mammoth Cave Campground, Maple Springs Group Campground, and the headquarters picnic area will open February 28, 2016. 

Sites at the Mammoth Cave Campground, near the visitor center, are available on a first-come, first-served basis March 1 - May 14 and September 16 - November 30; reservations are recommended May 15 – September 15.

Maple Springs campsites, by reservation only, are designed for groups of up to 24 people, and four of the sites accommodate campers with horses.  The reservation period for Maple Springs is March through November.

To make campground, picnic shelter, or cave tour reservations, call 877-444-6777, or go online at   Mammoth Cave Campground, Maple Springs Group Campground and the picnic shelters are closed December - February. 

Take a walk through Mammoth Cave’s rich Black History
Monday, February 01, 2016

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., February 1, 2016 – During the 1800s, enslaved African Americans guided tourist excursions through the dark, silent passages of Mammoth Cave.  Their role in society was that of slaves, but in their daily lives they were leaders.

In recognition of Black History Month, on each Saturday in February park staff will convey the legacy of enslaved guides at Mammoth Cave through walks, talks, video clips, and student art exhibited in the visitor center.  The Black History Month activities are free and open to the public; reservations are not needed.

Saturday ranger walks will depart from the visitor center at 10:30 and 1:30.  The 1¼-hour accessible walks will follow the Heritage Trail, overlooking Mammoth Cave’s Historic Entrance, and will terminate at the Old Guide’s Cemetery, the final resting place of famed Stephen Bishop.
•February 6, 2016, Park Guide Cory Fish will present In the Footsteps of Slavery.  The scar of slavery can still be felt along the ridgelines overlooking Mammoth Cave. Ranger-led walk along our ¾ mile Heritage Trail, exploring the large role enslaved African Americans played in Mammoth Cave’s rich history. 
•Saturday, Feb. 13, 20 & 27, 2016, join Park Guide Jerry Bransford for The Enslaved Leaders of Mammoth Cave, as he dons period costume to lead a walk along the Heritage Trail.  Bransford will explain the rich heritage, contributions and legacy of these guides at Mammoth Cave during the 1800.
Two video clips that feature stories of the enslaved Mammoth Cave guides will play in the visitor center exhibit area the entire month of February, courtesy of WKU-PBS and KET.

The Dream Works student art exhibit program provides approximately 100 students from schools across the country an opportunity to temporarily display art on a park-related theme in the park visitor center. In 2015-2016, the theme is “200 years of Cave Tours”.  Each piece of art is a collaborative creation. Students researched Mammoth Cave history as it relates to Native Americans, European settlers, and African Americans. 

Mammoth Cave Celebrating in 2016
Saturday, January 30, 2016

Officials at Mammoth Cave have scheduled a variety of events to take place throughout the year to commemorate its anniversaries.

“Right now through the end of February we have a student art exhibit going on called 'Dream Rocket.' It's a program that we contract with and they contact schools. They just put out an announcement to schools and then the school decide if they want to submit something or not within the criteria this company provides,” said Vickie Carson, public information officer for Mammoth Cave.

The students artwork is interspersed throughout the national park's exhibit area at its visitor center.

“With the anniversary of the 200th year of cave touring going on this year, the theme for this year's 'Dream Rocket' student art display is “200 Years of Cave Tours,” she said.

Schools from across the country submitted artwork for the exhibit, but there is some artwork from local students featured in it, Carson said.

“I know there is some from Hart County, LeGrande and some from Ohio County,” she said.

Also during the month of February there will be some costume interpretation talks and walks taking place at Mammoth Cave about the national park's black history, she said.

“Then in March that will be when a new documentary will air on WKU-PBS, and that will air on March 11,” Carson said. “It's called 'Mammoth Cave: A Place Called Home. It talks about the formation of it becoming a national park; the transfer of private property and of it being farmed and how it became a national park.”

A local showing of the documentary will take place on March 15 at the Edmonson County Library and on March 17 at the convention center, she said.

In April, Mammoth Cave will also celebrate National Park Week along with the other two anniversaries with Wildflower Week starting on April 16, followed by Junior Ranger Day on April 23.

“We will also have a research symposium April 18-20. A lot of the focus of that will be on history. That will be held here at the park at the training center,” Carson said. “It is open to the public. I think there are about 50 people presenting.”

In May, the Friends of Mammoth Cave, a nonprofit organization that promotes fitness through outdoor recreation, will sponsor the Pedal for the Park, which is a fundraiser for school transportation grants. Money generated from Pedal for the Park is used to bring school groups to Mammoth Cave that wouldn't otherwise be able to make the trip due to funding.

On May 30, Mammoth Cave will partner with a group called Atlas Obscura for Obscura Day.

“Atlas Obscura is an online atlas I guess you would say that just points toward unusual geologic features throughout the world,” Carson said. “And so Mammoth Cave is one of those unusual geologic features.”

In 2015, on Obscura Day, participants traced the flow of water in and out of Mammoth Cave using dye.

“So the waterfall at the natural entrance (to the cave) ran green for a few hours,” she said.

In June, Mammoth Cave will host its annual Caveservation Camp, which is a week-long day camp that immerses young people in the outdoors by requiring them to do different things both on the surface and underground, as well at the springs and in the Green River to help them better understand nature but also enjoy it, too, Carson said.

From June 11-12, Mammoth Cave will play host to Music in the American Wild.

“This is a group of musicians who will come here. We've already had two composers to come. They are going to compose music specifically about Mammoth Cave, and then they are going to perform and record it here in the park on June 11-12,” she said. “They are doing this at several national parks across the country, and we are happy to be included in it.”

On Aug. 25, Mammoth Cave will join in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

“We will have some events in coordination with other parks all across the country,” Carson said. “We don't have exactly what that is going to look like as of yet.”

On Aug. 27, Mammoth Cave will hold its annual Bat Night event, which gives visitors a chance to learn about bats and the deadly disease that is effecting several species of bats throughout the country.

A citizen naturalization ceremony will take place inside Mammoth Cave on Sept. 16, and on Sept. 25, the national park will observe National Public Lands Days by having free cave tours.

In November, Mammoth Cave will host its annual genealogical event, Roots in the Cave.

“We will be focusing on the Archibald Miller family. He is considered to be the first cave guide from the 1860s,” Carson said.

Also in November, the “Dream Rocket” student art exhibit will begin again with the theme “Find Your Park,” which Carson said is the national theme of the centennial of the National Park Service.

The annual Cave Sing will take place inside Mammoth Cave on Dec. 4, featuring the singing of Christmas carols, she said.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

FORT COLLINS - From monitoring the health of bat populations to minimizing the human spread of the deadly fungus that causes white-nose syndrome (WNS), the National Park Service (NPS) has 43 projects underway in more than 40 parks to protect and preserve bats and their habitats.  Park personnel undertake a variety of tasks to safeguard bats, their hibernacula, and maternity roosts from WNS, a fungal disease decimating up to 100% of some bat colonies. The NPS dedicated $3 million to address WNS-related priority issues in parks across the country. 

For more information click on the title.

Crystal Cave Entrance Improvement
Crystal Cave Entrance Improvement
Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Recently Mammoth Cave NP obtained the services of the Dry Stone Conservancy to perform repair work on various stone walls at the Crystal Cave Entrance, Holton Cemetery, and individual graves. The work is a vast improvement on the right wall going into the entrance as well at a low wall at the top landing of the entrance. In addition to the the work by Dry Stone Conservancy, the National Speleological Society August camp prepared the site by trimming the vegetation, removing rock debris on the steps, and cleaning moss from the steps.

Changes in schedules, services at Mammoth Cave NP
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., September 1, 2015 – Mammoth Cave National Park will remain open when two major renovation projects begin on Tuesday, September 8, 2015:  reconstruction of the cave trail along the Historic tour route; and upgrades to the concessions facilities at Mammoth Cave Hotel. 

Beginning September 8:
•  The two-mile Historic tour will not be offered in its entirety until summer of 2016.  The park has contracted with the Tradesmen Group Inc., of Plain City, Ohio, to reconstruct the 75-year old tourist trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 
•  The main lodge of the Mammoth Cave Hotel will close for upgrades to the electrical and HVAC systems, and installation of a fire/safety system.  These utilities have not been changed since the hotel was built in the 1960s.  The park has contracted with Lightsey Construction LLC of Forsyth, Georgia, for renovations of the concessions facilities.

“The park will remain open and cave tours will continue,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “Lodging, food service, and other concessions services will be available on a limited basis.  There will be plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy the park.”

To compensate for closure of the Historic tour:
•  Additional cave tours have been scheduled in other sections of Mammoth Cave.  Eight Domes and Dripstones tours will be offered daily, as well as three Frozen Niagara tours, two Great Onyx tours, and a Grand Avenue tour.  Crawling tours will be available on weekends.
•  On weekends, fall break, and spring break during the construction period, the park will open the Mammoth Passage or Discovery tours, which use a portion of the Historic route.

To compensate for closure of the main lodge:
•  Forever Resorts will offer limited food service at the Caver Camp Store.
•  Gifts and souvenirs will be available at the Caver Camp Store and at the Forever Resorts outlet inside the park visitor center.
•  Lodging will be available in the Sunset Terrace Lodge, the Hotel Cottages, and the Woodland Cottages.  Reservations must be made by telephone at 270-758-2225.  Registration will occur at the Caver Camp Store.  Lodging will close for the season on November 1, 2015, and reopen in March 2016.
•  Forever Resorts will continue to operate the bus transportation for cave tours, as part of its contract with the park.

“We ask the public’s patience during construction,” added Craighead.  “Improvements to the cave trails and the concessions facilities will allow the park to better serve our visitors and protect Mammoth Cave’s natural and cultural resources that are entrusted to our care.”

Construction schedules at Mammoth Cave NP
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
MAMMOTH CAVE, July 7, 2015 - Several construction projects will bring schedule changes to park operations, starting in August.

Cedar Sink Road repair
One mile of Cedar Sink Road, in the southwest corner of the park, will be rebuilt, surfaced, and guard rails will be replaced.  The road will be closed August 1 through December 31, 2015.   Detour signs will direct traffic to use the Silent Grove Road. 

Historic Tour trail reconstruction
Two miles of cave trail will receive paving stones and lint guards between September 2015 and December 2016.  Tours/routes will be altered; the following is an outline from the contract:
· September 8, 2015 - Memorial Day 2016:  on weekdays there will be no tours in the Historic section; weekend tours to Rafinesque Hall.
· Fall break 2015 (about four weeks): daily tours to Rafinesque Hall.
· Spring break 2016 (about six weeks): daily tours to Rafinesque Hall.
· Memorial Day 2016 - Labor Day 2016:  Historic section will be open for tours.
· Labor Day 2016 - December 31, 2016:  on weekdays there will be no tours in the Historic section; weekend tours to Rafinesque Hall.
· Fall break 2016 (about four weeks): daily tours to Rafinesque Hall.

On average, 225,000 people walk the Historic tour route every year.  Most of the existing trail used on cave tours were constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and because of its age is marked by pot holes, loose sediment, and uneven surfaces.  A boardwalk and concrete paving stones were installed in the last fifteen years as pilot projects to help determine the type of trail that would best suit various cave environments.   Paving stones, like those used on patios, have proven to be the most practical method.

The park is currently soliciting bids for the work through <>.  The bid period closes July 17, 2015.

The construction schedule is tentative.  Posted tour offerings and tour times may be subject to change during the construction period. 

Concessions facilities renovation
The main lodge (dining areas, gift shops, lobby, accessible rooms, Rotunda Room) will close September 8 - May 16, 2016, for replacement of utilities, including HVAC, plumbing, electric; a fire suppression system will be added.  The park expects to award the contract by the end of July.

The Heritage Trail wing will close September 8, and will be demolished when funding becomes available. 

Forever Resorts will continue to offer:
· Limited food service at the Cavers Camp Store; schedule is to be determined. 
· Gifts within the visitor center and at the camp store.
· Daily bus transportation for cave tours will continue.
· Lodging as follows:
· To reserve rooms after October 1, please make reservations by telephone at 270-758-2225.
· Sunset Terrace Lodge will receive interior and exterior renovations and landscaping.  Work begins September 8.  Ten rooms will remain open from September 8 to November 1.  Work will continue through the winter and is planned to be completed by mid-March 2016, when Sunset Terrace Lodge will reopen.
· The 10 Hotel Cottages, which have HVAC units, will remain open through the fall (weather dependent), closing November 1, 2015.
· The 20 Woodland Cottages, which are rustic structures without HVAC, will remain open in the fall as long as weather permits.
· All lodging will close for the season on November 1, 2015, and with plans to reopen in March 2016.

The concessions contract, to operate food service, gift sales, and overnight accommodations, is open for bid through September 9, 2015.

Mammoth Cave NP pumps $43.6 million into local economy
Thursday, April 23, 2015

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., April 23, 2015 – In 2014, Mammoth Cave National Park generated $43.6 million and 683 jobs in the south central Kentucky area, according to a recent economic impact study by the National Park Service.  Across the country record numbers of visitors to national parks in 2014 translated into $29.7 billion in economic activity that supported nearly 277,000 jobs across the country.  The report can be viewed at

Visitation to Mammoth Cave is growing,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead.  “2014 was our best year in the last ten years.  People who visit the park need gasoline, food, lodging, and additional forms of entertainment that the park does not offer.  Our neighboring communities provide these services and profit from travelers on their way to Mammoth Cave.”

Of the 523,000 people who visited the park last year, 413,000 toured Mammoth Cave.  Visitors also come to the park to use the 85 miles of trails via hiking, biking or on horseback; canoe, kayak or fish in the Green and Nolin Rivers; camp, picnic, or take a Sunday drive and have dinner at the hotel.

“Mammoth Cave National Park is a place to recreate, rejuvenate, and relax,” added Craighead.

“National parks are world-renowned for showcasing our country’s vast natural beauty and cultural and historic heritage, and year after year, we are demonstrating that they are also economic engines in communities across the country,” Director Jarvis said. “Understanding the economic benefit contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the overall value of national park resources. Every tax dollar invested in the NPS returns $10 to the U.S. economy thanks to visitor spending in gateway communities around the 407 parks of the National Park System.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., February 26, 2015 – Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead announced today that fee increases proposed last year will take effect on March 14, 2015.  This year, income from park fees will fund renovations at the Mammoth Cave Hotel.

Cave tours will increase by $1 to $2, except the Wild Cave tour, which will increase by $5, and camping fees will increase by $3 to $5.  Fees for reservable picnic shelters will increase by $25.  Some of these have not changed in seven or more years. Park staff are required to compare the cost of Mammoth Cave fees with the cost of comparable services in the local area in order to set rates.

“We asked for modest increases because we want to ensure that visiting Mammoth Cave will remain affordable,” said Craighead.  “However, the cost of operating the park continues to increase along with the need to complete improvement projects on aging park infrastructure.  In total, we expect the fee increase to bring an additional $350,000 to the park this year.”

At Mammoth Cave, 80 percent of the money collected is used in the park to provide facilities and services that have direct benefit to park visitors.  The remaining 20 percent helps support projects in the 270 national park units that do not charge entrance fees, like nearby Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP in Hodgenville, Ky.

Fee dollars are a great asset to Mammoth Cave.  Fees have been used to fund the new visitor center, repair trails, roads and campsites, and cover the cost of summer tour guides and environmental education with local schools.  Big Hollow Trail was also a product of the fee program.

Public comment was accepted from November 14 to December 5, 2014.  The park received 17 comments, 12 favored increasing the fees, and 5 opposed increasing the fees.

The authority to charge recreational fees at national parks stems from the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.  

Click on title for Fee Schedule

Deadly White-Nose Syndrome Impacts Bats at Mammoth Cave National Park
Deadly White-Nose Syndrome Impacts Bats at Mammoth Cave National Park
Monday, February 23, 2015

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., February 23, 2015 – A deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) is taking its toll on the bats at Mammoth Cave National Park.  Some bat species in the park have declined as much as 80 percent compared to 2013 numbers.  Across the eastern United States and Canada, WNS has killed millions of bats since 2006.

The park is continuing with scheduled cave tours, adapting times and routes in response to bat activity.  Bat research and bat monitoring are also ongoing.

“This is a wildlife crisis, unprecedented in our time,” said Mammoth Cave Superintendent Sarah Craighead.  “There is no known cure for white-nose syndrome.  With the help of wildlife veterinarians and public health officials, however, we have developed plans to minimize its spread by visitors traveling from the park.  We are also communicating with our visitors and partners, and are responding to changing situations as they occur.”

White-nose syndrome, a cold-loving fungus, grows on bats’ bare skin (muzzles, wings, and tails) during their winter hibernation, when their body temperatures and immune systems are reduced.  It causes bats to awake from hibernation and fly from the cave, exposing them to the elements and wasting energy and fluids vital to their survival.  Dead bats are found to be underweight and dehydrated.  White-nose syndrome is not known to affect humans.

Craighead requested a site visit by the NPS Disease Outbreak Investigation Team (Team), who traveled to the park in December 2014.  Made up of wildlife veterinarians, epidemiologists, and public health officials, the team reviewed park operations and discussed options with the park managers.

One issue the team examined was the increased potential for contact between bats and humans, both inside and outside the cave.  In addition to waking the bats, WNS also causes them to behave erratically, thereby increasing the potential for contact with humans.  In 2014 there were eleven reports of such contact in the park.

“Bats that have WNS lose their ability to maneuver quickly around objects, like people,” said Rick Toomey, director of the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning.

“Bats can carry diseases, such as rabies, and though transmission rates are very low, there is a risk that cannot be totally dismissed,” Toomey said.  “However, we consider the risk of a person contracting rabies from a bat at Mammoth Cave to be small.”

The Park urges visitors who come in physical contact with bats to consult with a trusted healthcare provider.

“There is an inherent risk in entering a wild place,” said Craighead.  “Park employees make sure visitors are aware of what they may encounter.  The visitors then decide if it is an acceptable personal risk.”

Are you a Friend of Mammoth Cave?
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
  Do you want to be? Maybe you thought you would join, but just haven’t gotten around to it – now’s your chance. The Friends of Mammoth Cave are having a membership drive to kick off the New Year.

“The Friends of Mammoth Cave National Park are a great help to the park,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead.  “They add a margin of excellence to the park and promote stewardship of the caves, forests, rivers, and rugged karst terrain of Mammoth Cave.  Their Ticket-to-Ride program brought 650 students to the park last year, who wouldn’t have been able to come without a grant from the Friends.  I personally support the Friends with my membership.”

The Friends focus on three main thrusts:  education, recreation, conservation. In 2015, we funded buses, cosponsored events, garnered donations, and wrote grants. We are making this membership appeal so that we have the resources to continue in 2016. See our current list of donors.

Superintendent's message:
Thursday, October 08, 2015

Mammoth Cave is a special place, well protected as a national park, a World Heritage Site, and as the core area of an International Biosphere Reserve.  It is known around the world for its premiere karst landscape, biodiversity, and of course, the longest cave.

That’s the big picture, but how did each of these designations come to be?  Through people who had a passion for the park.  You could call them friends of the park.  People like you!

You can help protect and promote Mammoth Cave by becoming a Friend.

The Friends of Mammoth Cave:

•    add a margin of excellence to the park and increase the stewardship of the caves, forests, rivers, and rugged karst terrain of Mammoth Cave.
•    find and build new partnerships to fund a wide variety of park programs and research.  
•    get kids into the woods and into the cave by funding bus transportation to schools that could not afford a field trip without the Friends’ help.
•    provide a means to accept donations to further the park’s educational efforts and research.
•    recruit volunteers who donate their sweat-equity in the park’s resource protection projects.

We truly appreciate the work of our Friends.

Sarah Craighead

From the MCNP Superintendent
Become a Member, Donor, or Volunteer

The Goals of the Friends of Mammoth Cave National

Park are:

1. to support memorable multi-cultural, multi-generational visitor experiences to
Mammoth Cave National Park in partnership with surrounding communities;

2. to serve as an ambassador for Mammoth Cave National Park and the
caveland region, promoting and enhancing understanding and appreciation of
all facets of Mammoth Cave National Park and the surrounding International
Biosphere Reserve;

3. to support and foster educational programs and research projects, including
those that will improve students' competence in science and technology or
encourage international cooperation; and

4. to support, create, and encourage healthy lifestyles through the fitness
opportunities and recreational choices available at Mammoth Cave National
Park and the surrounding region.
Current  Executive Director
Helen Siewers
email Helen

Current Board of Directors
Larry Cox - Chairman
Lajuana Wilcher- Vice-Chairman
Del Marie Vaccaro - Secretary
Henry Holman- Treasurer
Brian Dale
James Borden
Rick DuBose
Nick Noble
Kay Gandy
David Peterson
Gary A. Ransdell
Tom Carney
Jenna Lamblin

More Ways You Can Help

The FRIENDS of MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK (FRIENDS) is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the Kentucky Non-profit Corporation Act.

Centennial Challenge

The Friends are made up of folks who love
Mammoth Cave.
Our work helps protect it, and draw more
visitors and young people to the park so they
might fall in love with it, too.

Membership levels that match our
$  25   Biosphere Reserve
$  35   World Heritage
$  75   Our National Park
$ 100  Park Service Centennial
$ 200  Cave Tour Bicentennial
$1000 Mammoth Friends
$2016 Centennial Challenge

Officials at Mammoth Cave have scheduled a variety of events to take place throughout the year to commemorate its anniversaries.

A citizen naturalization ceremony will take place inside Mammoth Cave on Sept. 16, and on Sept. 25, the national park will observe National Public Lands Days by having free cave tours.

In November, Mammoth Cave will host its annual genealogical event, Roots in the Cave.

“We will be focusing on the Archibald Miller family. He is considered to be the first cave guide from the 1860s,” Carson said.

Also in November, the “Dream Rocket” student art exhibit will begin again with the theme “Find Your Park,” which Carson said is the national theme of the centennial of the National Park Service.

The annual Cave Sing will take place inside Mammoth Cave on Dec. 4, featuring the singing of Christmas carols, she said.

"Did you read about us on p.65 of the

SOKY Happenings

August issue?"

Learn more about the Cheryl Messenger Memorial Fund and
Ticket To Ride grants

The Friends of Mammoth Cave National Park, works in cooperation with the National Park Service, to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources, and the visitor experience of Mammoth Cave National Park. We can only accomplish our goal with the support of individuals and organizations that care about Mammoth Cave and want to help ensure that its magic endures forever.