Friends Latest News
Cave Sing, basketmaking, living history, and Friends on December 4
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. November 22, 2016 – The 37th annual Cave Sing, is scheduled for Sunday, December 4, 2016. Participants will depart from the visitor center at 2:00 p.m. for this free event.
“Visitors and our neighbors will enjoy the performing arts at the park on December 4,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “Rangers in period dress will represent different eras in Mammoth Cave’s 200-year history. The local art of basketmaking will be demonstrated in the visitor center. And music will resound in the halls of Mammoth Cave.”
The idea for the Cave Sing dates back to 1883, when residents held a Christmas celebration inside Mammoth Cave. An article about the event stated, "the halls of the cave ring with joyous carols and the laughter of happy children." The park hosted the first Cave Sing in 1980.
Basketmakers in the visitor center, 12:00–3:00 p.m.
Learn about the art of basketmaking in the visitor center. White Oak basketmakers Scott Gilbert and Beth Hester learned to harvest and make baskets through their long standing apprenticeship with Ollie and Lestel Childress of Park City. Also meet Charles and Charlene Long who, along with grandson Brandon, will demonstrate the local tradition of Willow and honeysuckle basketmaking. This presentation is sponsored by the Kentucky Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University, with an underwriting grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Cave Sing, depart from the visitor center at 2:00 p.m.
Meet your guide at Shelter A behind the visitor center at 2:00. Rangers will be dressed as historic characters from Mammoth Cave’s past, and will speak with the crowd as they walk to the cave. Once underground, the musical performances will ring out in Rafinesque Hall: the Drakes Creek Middle School 8th Grade Advanced Choir will perform, as well as From the Barn, a local three-piece band. Complimentary refreshments will be served at the Mammoth Cave Hotel upon returning to the surface.
Friends of Mammoth Cave annual meeting, 3:30 p.m.
Are you a Friend of Mammoth Cave? The Friends will hold their annual meeting at 3:30 p.m. at Mammoth Cave Hotel. Stop by to learn about the important work of the Friends as they protect, connect and inspire this and future generations of park stewards.
Please remember, Cave Sing requires walking up and down a steep hill and climbing steps. Participants should dress warmly in layers and wear comfortable shoes or boots. Even though the cave air stays at a constant 54 degrees Fahrenheit, wind chills in the entrance are much cooler.
For further information, call 270-758-2180.
Note – Cave tour requirements regarding white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats: While there are no known harmful effects to humans, WNS is responsible for the death of millions of hibernating bats across the eastern United States since its discovery in 2006. WNS was found in Mammoth Cave in winter 2012-2013. To minimize the spread of WNS fungus, all participants on cave tours must walk across bio-security mats immediately following the conclusion of their tour to clean their footwear.

Elizabeth Maclang, superintendent of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in the Philippines, is visiting Mammoth Cave National Park as a World Heritage Fellow.
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., October 5, 2016 – 
Puerto Princesa, like Mammoth Cave, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and lies within an International Biosphere Reserve. The month-long Fellowship Program is sponsored by the National Park Service Office of International Affairs in partnership with the George Wright Society.
"It has been a great honor and pleasure to host Ms. Maclang during her Fellowship here at Mammoth Cave,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “Our focus has been to get Ms. Maclang into the cave and forest, allowing her to experience United States park management first hand. Though there are some similarities between Puerto Princesa and Mammoth Cave, there are many differences, too. Conversations with Ms. Maclang have been eye-opening for me and my staff.”
Maclang has been superintendent of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park for the last three years. Prior to that time, she served in a network of environmental non-governmental organizations in the Palawan province for 16 years.
While at Mammoth Cave, Ms. Maclang participated in bat surveys, caving expeditions, and law enforcement briefings. She toured the archival collection, visited privately-owned caves, assisted in environmental education lessons, and observed how cave tours are managed at Mammoth Cave.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. The cave opens on the ocean and the only way to tour the cave is by small 10-person boats. Guides paddle while visitors listen to multi-lingual headsets; most visitors come via organized tours from the United States, Taiwan, Korea, China and Europe. There is a carrying capacity of 1,200 people per day. Three indigenous people-groups live within the park.
“My visit to Mammoth Cave and central Kentucky has been very helpful,” said Maclang. “It is very important that everything I have learned here at Mammoth Cave will be adapted to our operations at Puerto Princesa.”
Learn more about Puerto Princesa at

TALK OF THE TOWN: Q&A with Helen Tyson Siewers
Monday, October 03, 2016
Helen Tyson Siewers grew up in Nashville. She and her family have lived in Bowling Green since 1998. Siewers is a landscape architect and a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design-accredited professional. She enjoys reading, walking, travel and food.

Click on title for full article.

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 ˝-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, ˝ 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.

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.

From the News Room
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.

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.