(Mammoth Caves 9/17/11)
I said then we wouldn't go back. Well, we were staying at the same campground just 5 miles from the park, so we decided to give it another chance. We'd go on the New Entrance Tour--one we'd thought about doing first time around.
The check for White-Nose Syndrome in bats has been changed, so we didn't have to have our shoes decontaminated before we went in, just when we went out. (Yes, I know, that didn't make much sense to me either.)
They've explored more of the cave since we were here, so the total surveyed is greater than 400 miles. That's 8 miles in less than 2 years, which I suppose is pretty good for crawling around on your belly in the dark. (Glad I don't have to do it. Not, of course, that I would even consider it. Spelunking in wild caves is on my list of jobs I'm not interested in.)
We had to take a bus to the cave entrance. Imagine how excited I was when 2 busloads of kids joined us! I don't think Steve, our guide, was thrilled either because he talked to us a while before we went inside. (Never saw those kids again!) He said the new entrance was blasted open in 1920 during the Kentucky Cave Wars for tourism dollars. A con man put out a sign for the "New Entrance to Mammoth Cave", diverting the tourists to his cave. Eventually the government won--imminent domain takes care of a lot of problems.
There are 500 stairs on the tour, with Not all at once, just 280 on the initial descent underground. We went down...and down...and down. And remember, in caves, what goes down must come up...eventually.
Eventually we began to climb upstairs, and then we could see the pretty stuff.
For more pictures, click the link: Mammoth Cave Natl Park, 2013 Just click on the first picture and scroll through them one-by-one.