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This park was one of my boys’ favorites. From the rich history of the cave to the actual adventure inside of it, it definitely became a core memory for them all!
- Little Stories of a Big Country by Laura A. Large (Print)
- Journey to a Bottomless Pit: The Story of Stephen Bishop and Mammoth Cave by Elizabeth Mitchell (Print)
- The Cherokees by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (Print)
- Bats by Charles Ripper (Digital)
- A Walk in the Deciduous Forest by Rebecca Johnson (Print)
- The Story of Caves by Dorothy Sterling (Print or Digital)
- The Moon of the Salamander by Jean Craighead George (Print)
Before Your Visit
MAPWORK + MAP QUESTIONS
Look at map of USA: Northeast on pg 18-19 of DK Compact World Atlas 7th Edition and ask your child to answer these questions while looking at map:
- Point to the state of Kentucky
- Which states border Kentucky? [Illinois; Indiana; Ohio; W. Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee]
- What are the major cities of Kentucky? [Louisville, Lexington, Evansville]
- Can you find the city of Bowling Green? What part of the state is it in?
- What is the name of the river north of Bowling Green? [Green River]
- What is the elevation of this area? [<820 ft]
- Which area of Kentucky with the highest elevation? [East Kentucky; 3281 ft]
Read “A Cave of Make-Believes” on p. 42 of Little Stories of a Big Country by Laura A. Large
History and Culture
Journey to a Bottomless Pit: The Story of Stephen Bishop and Mammoth Cave by Elizabeth Mitchell (Print)
The Cherokees by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (Print)
After reading the chapter from Little Stories of a Big Country and the Stephen Bishop biography, ask your child to make a list of the places in the cave they’re interested in visiting. Using that list, look at the tours available and choose one that fits your interests and abilities.
A Walk in the Deciduous Forest by Rebecca Johnson (Print)
The Story of Caves by Dorothy Sterling (Print or Digital)
Read one or both of these books. Ask your child to describe the biome of Kentucky and inside caves. Optional: Draw or paint a picture of what they think the forest and caves will look like.
The Moon of the Salamander by Jean Craighead George
Bats by Charles Ripper
After reading one or both of these books, ask your child to tell about an animal they might see at the caves. Where might they find the animal? What time of day and what time of year?
During Your Visit
There are a variety of tours available to different parts of the cave. It just depends on your stamina and what you want to see.
My family is younger, so we chose the shorter cave tours. My oldest went on the historic lantern tour with my husband. They said it was a whole different experience with lantern light versus bright flashlights. My oldest read the biography of Stephen Bishop, so going by lantern light brought history to life for him.
Our whole family (ages 8, 6, and 4) went on the Domes and Dripstones tour, which is a different part of the cave system and requires a bus ride to the entrance. There were a ton of cave crickets in this part of the cave, along with beautiful rock formations. This part of the cave system is very different from the tours in the main entrance, which does not have many formations.
We also went on the Historic Tour, which begins at the main entrance of the cave and takes you to all the parts of the cave mentioned in the book, Journey to the Bottomless Pit, including: the TB huts and Fat Man’s Misery.
Other places to visit in the area are the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace in Hodgenville, KY and the Daniel Boone National Forest.
After Your Visit
Ask your child can create a presentation, write a travel guide in a blank notebook, or another project that shows what they learned and experienced on their trip.