Hobo the Wonder Dog continues celebrating the National Park Service’s centennial year with a visit to Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky. For the views, the hiking, the cool — you can only experience in Mammoth Cave. Keeping our journey of exploring National Parks within a day’s drive we set out for Mammoth Cave Kentucky. I assure you this day trip will not disappoint you and will over deliver on a fun filled adventure for the whole family including your dog. From the time we pulled into the entrance of the park we were greeted by wildlife — some of the largest wild turkey we have ever seen. Hobo’s nose worked overtime taking in all the smells and sites of nature along our drive to the Visitor Center. Once we arrived at the Park’s Headquarters we knew right away we were in for a different kind of adventure—the park was vibrant with hundreds of people yet orderly, friendly, and with the occasional four-legged visitors too.
Mammoth Cave National Park is rich in wildlife such as the endangered Kentucky Cave Shrimp, the pygmy shrew (one of the smallest mammals on Earth), rare bat species, insects, birds, wildflowers, fish, and so much more. It is easy to see how Mammoth Cave has its own delicate and unique ecosystems from cave to forest, to rivers and streams, and everything in between. Mammoth Cave National Park protects more than 360 miles of cave passages and has earned the title of the longest cave system in the world.
Many roads lead to Mammoth Cave National Park however, at the suggestion of Ranger Vickie Carson we chose the Cordell Hull Scenic Byway. The scenic route was reminiscent of my childhood road trips with one exception—it actually saved us travel time to our destination. Along the way we saw roadside museums, country farms, Civil War Forts, and if you ever wondered where Daniel Boone’s sister was buried — wonder no more it is along the Cordell Hull Scenic Byway outside Tompkinsville. From Dinosaur World to Daniel Boone’s sisters grave the scenic route is sure to please everyone and especially the driver as it saves about an hour in travel time to Mammoth Cave National Park. Cordell Hull played a key role in the development of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and a route to Mammoth Cave and even today I found the route enjoyable and timesaving.
Hobo the Wonder Dog and I had the pleasure of touring the park with Park Ranger Vickie Carson and learning firsthand the policies for enjoying Mammoth Cave National Park with your dog. Leashed dogs are welcome in the park’s three campgrounds, picnic areas and backcountry sites. Remember, when in public with your dog you represent all dog owners and the park is no different. Dogs must be under control at all times, on a leash no longer than six feet, excrement disposed of in a trash receptacle or removed into the wood line at least 15 feet from any public use area. Be good stewards for all dog owners — its simple control your dog and leave nothing on the trail except paw prints. I advocate having good manners, social skills and basic obedience for your dog. Mastering the basics ensures a pleasurable time is had by all as it opens a world to explore and enjoy with your dog.
Accommodations and opportunities for pets while visiting Mammoth Cave National Park:
· Eighty-five miles of hiking trails open to visitors with dogs;
· Dogs are welcome at three campgrounds, picnic areas, and backcountry sites;
· Canoeing on thirty-one miles of the Green and Nolin Rivers;
· Woodland Cottages are open to Fido and Hobo for $9 per dog per night; and
· Kennels are available to house and protect your family pets (including lizards, cats, ferrets, and birds to name a few) while you enjoy areas of the park off limits to pets at a nominal fee of $3.50 for the first hour and $1 an hour for additional hours.
Mammoth Cave National Park has many opportunities for you and the whole family to enjoy. Oddly, one of our most memorable observations we made was the cleanliness of the restroom facilities in the visitor center. The coolness of the cave and the cool air rushing from the ground gave Hobo the opportunity to cool down on one of the hottest days of the year; making Mammoth Cave a top destination on hot days. No matter your interest you are only limited by your imagination, so come celebrate your National Park Service’s 100th birthday close to home.
Hobo the Wonder Dog gives Mammoth Cave National Park four paws up for their acceptance and accommodations for family pets.
Hobo is a rescue dog out to make a difference in animal rescue and education. Please follow Hobo on Facebook at Hobo the Wonder Dog or contact him at: [email protected]