|The Longest Cave System in the World:
Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
Somewhere I read that Mammoth Cave is the "second oldest tourist attraction in the United States." That interested me. "What's the oldest?" I asked. "And when did tourists start visiting?"
Once news of the giant cave spread, Mammoth Cave attracted explorers and curiosity seekers from around the world. Men and women, rich and poor, went to great lengths to visit. They came by foot, horse, boat, buggy, stagecoach, train, and auto. Now they come via the Internet. The Park's new Visitor Center opened just this month and is the perfect place to begin your exploration of and introduction to the fascinating histories of this unusual place. From geology to genealogy, believe me, there are many.
If your family leans toward adventure, historic and/or cultural travel then, do yourselves a favor and plan to spend a few days in and around Mammoth Cave National Park. Here you can have it all. Hub-and-spoke day-trip itineraries from Mammoth Cave Hotel are numerous, depending on your interests.
Three hotels have serviced tourists to the Cave region over the last 238 years. Mammoth Cave Hotel, open seasonally, is the only lodging in the Park and offers a large dose of Southern hospitality and regional cuisine, including hotel and motel-like rooms, cabins and, during the summer, large rustic cottages that are often used for group gatherings and reunions.
Have a meal in the Hotel's Travertine Dining Room or coffee shop and tour "Centuries of Hospitality," a permanent historic photography exhibit, highlighting the hotel's history and role in the area's conservation, stewardship and sustainable tourism activities. In fact, to that end, Mammoth Cave Park Service has been the leader in curbing regional air pollution. The Park has 16 bi-fuel vehicles and was the first National Park to convert all of its diesel equipment to B-20 biodiesel blend in 2001.
With 350 surveyed miles and still counting it's no wonder Mammoth Cave became a famous destination. It is now recognized as a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve; the cave system extends beyond Park Boundaries. When you're serious about the visit, the State of Kentucky now markets this South Central area as the Cave Lakes and Corvettes Region. Mammoth Cave NP lies between Nashville and Louisville with Bowling Green to its west.
From grand kids to grandpas—if vacations must include a fun component, have no worries. Check out Beech Bend Amusement Park, Splash Lagoon and Race Track, "hang out" at Mammoth Cave Adventures' new zip line, or take in the popular National Corvette Museum. Dinosaur World and Kentucky Down Under are also really fun and provide hours of "hands on" experiences for the kiddies. The American Cave Museum in Horse Cave is illuminating and, from here, you can continue and visit Abraham Lincoln's birthplace.
Mammoth Cave underground. The National Park Service guides and interpretive programs are terrific! After all, they have traditions dating back over 200+ years to emulate. Cave tours change seasonally so plan ahead and make reservations in advance, especially for tours offered infrequently or where space is limited. One 6-hour tour named Wild Cave Tour delivers some of the most challenging "caving" to be had anywhere in this hemisphere.
Mammoth Cave above ground. This is another story. Biking and hiking trails abound—rent a bike at the Hotel and launch a ride from the main entrance of the Cave into the Park's engulfing greenness. Discover historic train tracks and locomotives, ferry crossings, quaint community Churches and restful grave sites on foot, bike or by car. The Park's Green River has a history all its own. Navigate it closely—by canoe or kayak—with tours and rentals available in and around the Park. Cool off in the summer and warm up in the winter; temperatures in the cave are appreciated no matter. Delight in the Park's spring and fall seasonal beauty. If you're timing is right, you can partake of the many unique annual events held the area—some have been celebrated with and by the locals for decades and serve a slice of Americana rarely experienced.
By the way, Niagara Falls is considered the oldest tourist attraction in the United States.
What's to DISCOVER?
Just for the fun of it, each month Discover Forever will feature a quiz related to Forever Resorts' destinations and/or properties. All entries with the correct answers will be collected and identified as finalists each month. Then, on December 31, 2010 one finalist will be selected at random to win a Canon PowerShot A3100 IS Digital Camera and Canon SELPHY CP780 Compact Photo Printer.
You have two weeks from the time DISCOVER FOREVER is sent to cast your vote. No purchase is necessary to enter. Good luck. Hint: Answers can be found at www.Travel-Forever.com and/or www.ForeverResorts.com.
Name the 20th century cave explorer who was trapped and died while exploring the Flint Ridge Cave System?
Answer to July's quiz:
Q: Approx. 3.25 million yards of concrete went into the construction of Hoover Dam. What year was the last bucket of concrete poured, marking the official completion of the project?
Click here to find the answer.