On Aug. 27-28, Mammoth Cave National Park will offer multiple, free events open to the public in celebration of the National Park Service Founders Day in its centennial year.
“At Mammoth Cave, we have recognized the centennial year of the National Park Service through artwork, a research symposium, concerts, a PBS documentary, day camps, and costumed rangers,” said Tracy Stakely, acting superintendent. “There have been thoughtful moments and times of celebration.”
In a recent speech, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis stated: “We cannot take the future of conservation for granted. We must use the magic of our parks and public lands to inspire and empower a new generation of conservation and historic preservation… inviting every American to find their park, that place that personally inspires them, rejuvenates them and builds some patriotic pride.”
“As we mark Founders Day, we invite everyone to join the scheduled activities on August 27-28 or enjoy the park in your own way, on the trails, the rivers, camping or on a picnic,” added Stakely. “Find your park and find what inspires you at Mammoth Cave National Park."
Saturday, Aug. 27
Bat Day / Night Celebration
Interactive display tables highlighting bat research will be set up behind the visitor center from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In the evening, the celebration begins at Shelter A and progresses downhill to the Historic Entrance where bat-related research techniques and equipment will be showcased. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., visitors will be able to visit each station, see the equipment in action, and talk to scientists.
Stations will feature night vision goggles, night vision cameras, thermal infrared cameras, bat detectors allowing people to hear bats flying overhead, black lights to illuminate insects that the bats might be eating, mist nets for capturing bats, and a “bat checkup and haircut” table. The night vision goggles will be located at the gate of the Historic Entrance. Visitors wishing to use the night vision goggles are encouraged to bring a jacket because cold cave air will be flowing out of the cave while they are waiting in line and to use the goggles. Activities will also take place behind the visitor center for those who may not want to walk down to the Historic Entrance.
Mammoth Cave National Park appreciates the support of the following partners involved in this year’s Bat Night celebration: Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning; Western Kentucky University; National Park Service; Eastern Kentucky University; Murray State University's Wildlife and Fisheries Society; Bat Conservation and Management, Inc.; and many individual volunteers.
Saturday, Aug. 27
Free Mammoth Cave Discovery Tour
Times: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
There is no tour limit associated with this self-guided tour. However, tickets will be required for cave entry and may be picked up at the visitor center. Once tickets have been picked up, visitors may enter the cave anytime between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The tour requires a walk down and up the steep hill below the visitor center, as well as 160 steps. Visit the Rotunda, one of the largest rooms, explore a vast canyon passageway, and learn about 19th-century saltpeter mining operations and the geologic origins of Mammoth Cave on each of these tours. Walk at your own pace, allowing at least 30 minutes; about 3/4-mile round trip.
Sunday, Aug. 28
Free Mammoth Passage Tours
Times: 9:30, 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, 2 & 4:30
The ¾-mile, 1¼-hour Mammoth Passage Tour is limited to 40 people and tickets are distributed on a first come, first served basis at the visitor center. Once ticket supplies have been exhausted no further tickets will be issued, so plan to arrive early. Mammoth Passage is a guided tour that covers the same route as the Discovery Tour.
Note cave tour requirements regarding white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats: While there are no known harmful effects to humans, WNS is responsible for the death of millions of hibernating bats across the United States since its discovery in 2006. WNS was found in Mammoth Cave in winter 2012-13. To minimize the spread of WNS fungus, all participants on cave tours and who walk down to the Historic Entrance gate during Bat Night must walk across bio-security mats to clean footwear immediately following the conclusion of their tour.
Contact: Vickie Carson, (270) 758-2192