Global Adventure - Scramble and Explore Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park


Global Adventure - Scramble and Explore Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park

Scramble, crawl and squeeze through the undeveloped sections of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world! Spend three full days exploring the major above- and below-ground areas of Mammoth Cave, including the most iconic cave tours that Mammoth Cave National Park has to offer. NOTE: The total trip price is $1000; the member price shown is the 50% deposit which is required to register.

  • Thu, Sep 5, 2024 — Mon, Sep 9, 2024
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Scrambling, Global Adventures
  • Adults
  • Strenuous 2, Technical 3
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 20.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft

We will be arriving in Nashville on Sept 5th (Thursday) and staying overnight. All participants should arrive at the hotel by 5 PM on September 5th to make the welcome dinner.

Non-stop flights from Seattle (SEA) to Nashville (BNA) are typically offered by Delta and Alaska airlines and are 4 hours 15 minutes to Nashville and 5 hours return to Seattle (flight times, ignoring time zone changes).

We’ll have some free time in the morning on the 9th (Monday) for a final hike before we check out of our rooms and drive back to Nashville. Most are expected to fly home from here. The earliest you should plan your return flight is 2 PM on 9/9.

Itinerary Highlights:   

Note: The specific itinerary is contingent upon securing tour reservations and may be adjusted.

9/5 (Thursday): We will arrive in Nashville in the afternoon, pick up our rental vehicles and gather at our hotel. In Nashville we’ll enjoy a welcome dinner. 

9/7-9/9 (Friday-Sunday): Mammoth Cave National Park! Click here for photos from the NPS. 

The exact itinerary will depend on tour availability, but here are the trip highlights, in order of priority:

  • Wild Cave Tour: The most physically and mentally demanding tour at Mammoth Cave. This 5.5 mile, 6-hour adventure gives you a taste of what wild caving is like as we explore less-traveled, undeveloped sections of the cave. This tour involves crawling, squeezing and a twelve-foot ladder. The park issues coveralls, helmets, headlamps and kneepads to all participants. See photos and reviews here.
  • Grand Avenue Cave Tour:  A 4 mile, 4 hour walking tour led by NPS staff. This tour covers a wide variety of history and geology, including slot canyons, tubular passageways, tall canyons and gypsum-sparkled tunnels.
  • Violet City Lantern Tour: A unique way to experience Mammoth Cave, this tour travels exclusively by lantern light. This 3 mile, 3-hour tour winds through the historic sections of the cave. 
  • Star Chamber Tour: In the evening, we’ll participate in the Star Chamber Tour, lit only by lanterns. This tour offers an  opportunity to experience the history of Mammoth Cave in a unique way.
  • Lost River Cave: While not a part of the national park, this unique cave attraction is about 40 minutes from the park and affords the opportunity to explore a cave by boat on a one hour tour.
  • Hiking Trails: When not underground, there are plenty of surface trails to explore. A network of trails is immediately available from the Visitor Center totaling about 6 miles and 700 ft/gain. Additionally, there are loops in the 10-14 mile range a short drive from the Visitor Center. These trails average around 1,000 ft/gain.

9/10 (Monday): We’ll have some free time in the morning for a final hike before we check out of our rooms and drive back to Nashville. Most are expected to fly home from here. The earliest you should plan your return flight is 2 PM.

Time of Year:   Early Fall. This is the beginning of shoulder season at the park, when the crowds die down and the foliage begins to turn.

Lodging:   Trip leader will arrange for overnight lodging in Nashville for the first night and 3 nights at Mammoth Cave National Park. Double occupancy is assumed.

Food:   Participants will be responsible for all of their meals except for the welcome dinner, including packed lunches. Estimated cost is approx $50 per day. In-park dining options include the Green River Grill and the Lantern Cafe. The park also features the Caver’s Camp Store, which serves breakfast and lunch and supplies like cold drinks and snacks. However, those with special diets may be disappointed.

Leader’s Experience:   Travis Prescott ( has been with The Mountaineers since 2017. He has led over 100 alpine scrambles and climbs in that time. He is also a member of the Cascade Grotto and Oregon Grotto and a member of the National Speleological Society.

Participant Requirements:   Participants must be Mountaineers members with an up-to-date waiver on file.   Leader's permission is required, and you must submit an application form at the button below and be approved before you can join the roster.

Skills & Fitness

  • The Alpine Scrambling requirements are based on the obstacles and challenges associated with the Wild Cave Tour. You should have experience on numerous T3 rock day scrambles. The other tours have no technical requirements.
  • Fitness requirements are minimal. The average mileage and elevation gain are low compared to scrambles in Washington, and since tours are led by NPS staff, do not expect a fast pace.
  • There is a strict 42-inch chest/hip limit to be able to complete the Wild Cave Tour. If you exceed these measurements you will not be able to fit through the tighter areas of the cave.
  • You can take rest days if needed at the lodging area but cannot explore on your own.

As soon as you are approved, please complete the Trip Agreement and Release forms below.  The supplemental insurance form will be requested shortly before the trip departs.

Participants will be required to comply with the Mountaineers Global Adventures Covid-19 requirements before and during the trip - see this link.

    Trip Price Detail:   The trip price is $1000 which covers shared standard lodging (double occupancy), one welcome dinner, travel costs to/from the airport, three rental vehicles, gasoline and all cave tours outlined in the itinerary. Not included are flights to and from Nashville, TN (~$400) and other meals (~$200). All values are estimates. Note that the trip price of $500 is only the first half deposit and that the remainder will be due by July 1st.

    Registration Instructions:   Upon receiving the leader’s permission, a deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot on the trip. By July 1st, the second payment will be due. It is expected to be $500 but may be less (or slightly more) depending on the number of participants who sign up and reservations secured. The leader will communicate the exact amount of the 2nd installment prior to July 1st.

    If you do not have caving experience and are unsure whether you want to participate on the Wild Cave tour, the trip leader will arrange a trip in Washington near Mount Saint Helens for you to get experience and make a final decision.





    Cancellation Policy:

    • Cancellation up to 30 days in advance is subject to a minimum $100 administrative fee, per Mountaineers policy. You are eligible for a refund less this administrative fee and any non-refundable vendor fees (for example, tour reservations).
    • If you cancel and your spot is refilled, some fees may be waived, but only after the new participant has fully registered.
    • Cancellations 7 days or less in advance of the trip start date are ineligible for a refund.


    Scramble and Explore Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park

    Required Equipment

    Required Equipment

    • Hiking day pack (no more than 30L)
    • Sturdy hiking boots with ankle support and at least ¼” of tread are required for the Wild Cave tour. You will be unable to participate if you do not have appropriate footwear.
    • Comfortable hiking boots, trail runners or approach shoes for above-ground hiking and/or cave tours except the Wild Cave tour.
    • Layers. In-cave temperature is typically 54F year round but above ground temperatures average 70F in September (60-80F).

    For the Wild Cave tour, the NPS will issue coveralls, helmets, knee pads and head lamps. No personal caving equipment is allowed. No exceptions.


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