As stated before, I have visited Mammoth Cave National Park, but only for a short time. I didn’t get to visit all the features, and this time around I would love to see the park in the fall when the leaves are changing, and the weather is mild. Mammoth Cave National Park has a wide variety of geologic features, especially in the cave systems this park is so famous for after its designation as a national park in 1941. The rocks of the Mammoth Cave National Park area are around 325 million years old, dating back to the Mississippian Period when a large area of the U.
S. was covered in a shallow sea that deposited layers of clay, sand, silt, and limestone. These layers gradually hardened into the shale, sandstone, and limestone that make up Mammoth Cave today.
“At the beginning of the Pennsylvanian Period, crustal movements of the earth caused the seas to withdraw from this area as the whole region was slowly warped upward,” eventually forming a dome-like structure called the Cincinnati Arch.
Later in geologic history, weathering and erosion have accounted for Mammoth Cave surface features, especially a process called carbonation which helped to dissolve the area’s limestone. The largest caves in this park formed within the St. Louis Limestone, Ste. Genevieve Formation, and the Girkin Formation, and the rugged topography is a result of streams alternately flowing over the soluble and insoluble rocks. “Mammoth Cave is intimately related to the hydrology and geomorphic evolution of its surrounding landscape,” taking on karst features in the land surface.
Some features include sinkholes, spring-formed cave passages, flutes, anastomoses, and speleothems. Sinkholes are funnel-shaped depressions where the soil has receded into limestone cracks and can easily become larger if there is a collapse of bedrock. Sinkholes in this area number in the thousands and sometimes they are responsible for the creation of the ca
The name of this park assumes there is only one thing to do, which is entirely false. Mammoth Cave National Park has a host of outdoor activities that I plan to try, from horseback riding and hiking to touring the caves and kayaking along the river. North of the Green River, there are sixty miles of horse riding trails, including Maple Springs Trail and Lincoln Trail, that I would love to travel along and see the sights. It would be great to ride with a group of friends and explore the forested areas on horseback. At any state or national park I’ve been to, hiking is my favorite thing to do, and Mammoth Cave has 84 miles of front and backcountry hiking trails that range from easy to challenging. “Six trailheads, at Maple Springs, Lincoln, Big Hollow, First Creek, Temple Hill, and White Oak give access to the backcountry” and “in the front country, there is a total of 10.8 miles along the Cedar Sink Trail, Sand Cave Trail, Sloan’s Crossing Pond Walk, Turnhole Bend Nature Trail, and the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail” (NPS 2015) to traverse. Years ago, I visited Mammoth Cave and was amazed by its array of geologic features and I hope to visit it again with my greater understanding of geology.
I’ve heard stories of places inside the caves called “Fat Man’s Misery” and “Tall Man’s Misery”- areas that are very short and narrow for travelers to pass through. The last activity I want to do on my several days of adventure is to take the time to kayak up and down the Green River. Within the park boundaries, Green River (paying homage to the CCR song) stretches 25 miles and averages about 200 feet wide, and is “dotted with sandbars, islands, and subsurface springs”. I would consider swimming, but this time of the year, the water seems a bit chilly. Located in southwestern Kentucky, Mammoth Cave National Park is the park I would most like to visit. As I am a Floridian, it is easily accessible on a day’s drive, and Kentucky is one of my favorite states.