Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mammoth Caves, June 8

Waking up to 85 degree temperatures at 7:00 in the morning yesterday prompted a no brainer decision to find an RV park with hook ups rather than stay at the campground at  Mammoth Caves NP. We charged up the internet and made a few phone calls and found a Passport America Park in Cave City just a few miles from the National Park.  Singing Hills RV park is small, but clean with many pull through sites and full hookups even 50amp.  Ahhh air conditioning.  The owners said temperatures were 10 to 15 degrees above normal and would continue through the weekend. Ugh!

We headed over to the park to find out about the cave tours.  I had been told some tours sold out fast and reservations were needed.  Apparently weekend tours sell out quickly but we had no problems on scheduling a tour for in the morning. I was looking forward to the cool temperatures in the cave.

Mammoth Caves is the largest cave in the US covering over 390 miles.  It is the 24th national park and is also a historical site and a biosphere preserve. The cave has it all from narrow slot like passage to beautiful rooms full of various formations.  Mammoth Cave is not as glitzy as the Carlsbad Caverns nor as beautiful as Karchner Caverns, but it is very interesting and well worth the visit.  We opted for the Grand Avenue Tour which was a 4 1/2 hour tour covering approximately 4 miles and billed as strenuous due to the amount of steps (over 600) and steep inclines and declines.

 This passage was like a slot canyon but with a ceiling. It was pretty narrow in places.
 Our guide has been a ranger at the Cave for 25 years and was extremely knowledgeable.
 Most of the cave is left in its natural state. Paths were made by clearing rock, but not blasting like at Carlsbad.
The park offers a Wild Cave tour which participants crawl, climb, walk in the cave.  See the guys in back.  They are coming out of one the smaller crawling passages.  They wear coveralls and high top boots and the only lights are the helmet lights.
 A lunch room is set up in Snowball Room.  You can purchase a lunch box while on the tour, but you have to eat it in the Snowball Room and can't take any food with you.
 This is part of the "Frozen Niagara" formation.  I couldn't get the whole thing in the picture. From the top its looks like a frozen waterfall.
 These are drapery formations very similar to those found in Karchner or Carlsbad, but not as huge.
 In the 1800's slaves gave the tours and were paid by tips only.  One way of getting a large tip was writing a tourist name on the cave wall which was done by a smoking torch.  Some of the slaves learned to read and write by doing this. This smoked name dates back to the mid-1800's. The gypsum grows very slowly so the name has not faded.
 This is the historical entrance to the cave.   This is the original entrance found by a hunter who was being chased by a bear in 1798. Our tour, though, started from a different entrance up the road.  We took a bus to get there.

The historical entrance looking from inside the cave.

The park service is very concerned about the white nose fungus which is killing off millions of bats and are taking measures to prevent the spread of the fungus.  They ask that if you have visited a cave within the last six years to let them know, which I did. They asked if I had any clothing on that I wore during any of my previous visits and if my camera accompanied me. The only thing I had was my watch and camera and I had to disinfect my camera and watch by using a Clorox wipe. Apparently if I had the same shoes on I would have had to stick my shoes in a tub of disinfectant.   Later when leaving the cave everyone had to walk through a solution of Lysol that disinfected our shoes.

There are lots of hiking and biking trails in the park as well as some great kayaking but it has been way too hot to be out hiking or biking even at 6 or 7 in the morning.  Bummer.  We checked into Kayaking, but the river is way high and based on what I saw, the trip would be a fast float with out much paddling or any white water.  (that didn't sound too challenging to me).

We'll probably leave Singing Hills RV Park in this morning and start heading north again, with no real plans except to try and stay cool.

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