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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.
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End of season for campgrounds, picnic area
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

(MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. – November 24, 2015)  December marks the end of the season for certain services at Mammoth Cave National Park, including the picnic area and campgrounds.

The picnic area, Maple Springs Group Campground and Mammoth Cave Campground (near the visitor center) will be closed December 1, 2015, through February 28, 2016. 

Houchin Ferry campground will remain open through the winter.  Backcountry campsites on the north side of Green River will be available year round.

Come out for the Cave Sing and Star Party on December 6
Come out for the Cave Sing and Star Party on December 6
Friday, November 20, 2015

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. November 20, 2015 – Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead invites all area residents to the 36th annual Cave Sing, Sunday, December 6, 2015.  Participants will depart from the visitor center at 2:00 p.m. for this free event.

“Our annual Cave Sing is a bit different this year,” said Craighead.  “Because of the cave trail construction project we will present the musical program in the Rotunda and Rafinesque Hall.  Some of our rangers will be in period dress representing different eras in Mammoth Cave’s 200-year history.  Coming back to the surface, and after the sun sets, the WKU Hilltopper Astromony Club will hold a star party adjacent to the visitor center.”

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.

The schedule follows:

    2:00 p.m., depart for cave from the visitor center.  Inside the cave at the Rotunda, visitors will hear Pianist Dr. Janet Bass Smith & Violinist Joy Fan; and at Rafinesque Hall From the Barn, a local three-piece band, and the Bowling Green Jr. High Orchestra, directed by Patrick O'Rourke.
    4:00 p.m., complimentary refreshments, courtesy of the Friends of Mammoth Cave, are served on the back porch of the visitor center.
    5:00 p.m., the WKU Hilltopper Astromony Club will set up telescopes in the bus loop adjacent to the visitor center and share their knowledge of the night sky.

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:  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 2012-13.  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. 

A Kentucky Homespun Christmas: A Gift That Has Been Returned to Me
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Soldier’s Story on Veterans Day at Mammoth Cave NP
Friday, October 30, 2015

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., October 30, 2015 – On November 11, 2015, Veterans Day, the park will host a Union soldier telling A Soldier’s Story.

“Public tours of Mammoth Cave continued during the years of the Civil War,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead.  “Both Union and Confederate troops encamped nearby, and toured the cave.  On Veterans Day this year, a Union soldier, in full uniform, will speak to visitors about his experiences on the battlefield and his impressions of Mammoth Cave.”

A Soldier’s Story, a first-person, costumed living-history program by Ranger David Spence, will be presented at the park amphitheater at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; he will entertain questions following the presentation.  There is no charge for this event.

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.”

Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen commit to park trail work
Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen commit to park trail work
Thursday, October 23, 2014

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., October 23, 2014 – On October 15, 2014, Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead signed an agreement with representatives of the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen, as a way to improve maintenance of the park’s horse trails.

“Our agreement with the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen will greatly boost the care and condition of the park trail system,” said Craighead.  “Funding for trail maintenance continues to be a management challenge and concern.  Monitoring shows the physical condition of the trails has significantly deteriorated in the last five years, accentuated by severe erosion, mires and trail braiding.  Help from trail users is essential to keeping the trails open, enjoyable and safe.”

The agreement states the park and the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen will meet biannually to develop and review an annual work plan, and discuss organized workdays.  The park will provide tools and materials.  Volunteers who operate chainsaws must undergo specific training and conduct operations in accordance with the park’s chainsaw plan.

“Park staff constantly battle downed trees across trails,” said Craighead.  “We are taking a new approach in allowing volunteers to operate chainsaws in the park, after they have received the required training.”

“This agreement is an important first step in what we hope will be a long-term partnership between Mammoth Cave National Park and Back Country Horsemen in Kentucky,” said Ginny Grulke, chair of the Kentucky Backcountry Horsemen.  “We look forward to working as volunteers with the Park staff to ensure that trails are maintained and preserved for the enjoyment of all Mammoth Cave visitors.”

Mammoth Cave National Park has more than 90 miles of trails.  All are open to hikers, about 60 miles are designated for horse use, and 25 miles for bicycling.

The inaugural annual planning meeting is scheduled for December 18, to set a work plan for 2015.

Photo credit:  NPS photo

Catption:  Brenda Cecil, president of the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen, Superintendent Sarah Craighead, and Ginny Grulke, chair of the Kentucky Backcountry Horsemen, sign an agreement to improve maintenance of the park's horse trails.

TNC meets and works at Mammoth Cave National Park
TNC meets and works at Mammoth Cave National Park
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., July 29, 2014 – Staff members of The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Kentucky Chapter visited Mammoth Cave National Park last weekend to view the work TNC has accomplished within the park, and as an orientation for the group’s new state director, David Phemister.  Also attending were six high school students from Atlanta, Ga., interning with TNC through its Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future, or LEAF.

“Mammoth Cave National Park has a long, productive relationship with The Nature Conservancy,” said Acting Superintendent Lizzie Watts.  “TNC staff, interns and volunteers have assisted the park with prescribed fires, in controlling invasive plants, and in improving mussel habitat in Green River through the Sustainable Rivers Program.”

Park Ecologist Rick Olson led the group on a special cave trip through the Violet City Lantern Tour route, to the Dead Sea, up through Mammoth Dome, and out the Historic Entrance, about 3.5 miles underground.

“It was a pleasure to introduce Mr. Phemister, his staff, and the LEAF interns to a few of Mammoth Cave’s passageways,” said Olson.  “We looked at 2,000-year-old gourd bowls left by the prehistoric miners and discussed the power of water and time in forming the world’s longest cave.  Mammoth Cave is one of those places that you have to see to believe.”

On July 21, 2014, Phemister was named TNC’s State Director of the Kentucky Chapter. Phemister oversees the strategic direction and management of the Kentucky Chapter’s eleven-person staff, system of 36 nature preserves totaling 7,665 acres and array of conservation projects taking place around the state.

“Our LEAF interns have primarily been working on urban conservation in Louisville,” said Gerry James, TNC-Kentucky’s Donor & Community Outreach Coordinator.  “But we wanted them to get a well-rounded ‘#ExploreKentucky’ experience, so they have also worked at the  Sally Brown Preserve in Garrand County, and visited Shaker Village, Campbellsville University, and now Mammoth Cave National Park.”

This week, TNC staff will be back at Mammoth Cave to remove invasive plants from the park barrens, near Park City.  “This is a reclaimed prairie,” said Olson.  “About 70 acres along the parkway were covered with cedar and brushes.  The 50-year-old seed bank seemed intact, and it appeared that the seeds were still viable, but just needed sun to grow.  We removed the trees and shrubs and the prairie plants returned.  Unfortunately, undesirable came up, too, like stilt grass, perilla, and lespedeza.”  The TNC crew and Olson will spray invasive plants that crowd out native species.  The application is done in a very targeted manner to avoid damage to native plants and wildlife.

Tourism to Mammoth Cave NP creates $40 million in Economic Benefit
Tourism to Mammoth Cave NP creates $40 million in Economic Benefit
Friday, July 18, 2014

Report shows visitor spending supports 567 jobs in local economy

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., July 18, 2014 – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 494,541 visitors to Mammoth Cave National Park in 2013 spent $40 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 567 jobs in the local area.

“At Mammoth Cave, we welcome visitors from every state and from around the world,” said Acting Superintendent Lizzie Watts.  “It is an honor to share stories of Mammoth Cave’s history and scientific research, and help people experience the cave, the rivers, and the beautiful karst landscape of the park.  Mammoth Cave National Park draws thousands of people to south central Kentucky, benefiting local communities and businesses.  Many people make return visits.”

Mammoth Cave is one of 401 areas managed by the NPS across the country.  National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning an average of $10 for every $1 invested in the NPS.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and  Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service.  The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.

According to the 2013 economic analysis, most visitor-spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).

The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

To download the report visit

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national park areas in Kentucky and how the National Park Service works with Kentucky communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to

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April 18-19 - First Weekend of National Park Week

August 25 - National Park Service Birthday

September 26 - National Public Lands Day

November 11 - Veterans Day
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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

Working Together for a Better Park
Above ground trail overlooking Green River
Friends of Mammoth Cave National Park