Mammoth Cave, located in the state of Kentucky, has the world’s largest network of natural caves and underground passageways. It is more than 365 miles of five-level cave system (with new caves continually being discovered) which are characteristic examples of limestone formations. Two layers of stone underlie Mammoth’s hilly woodlands.
A sandstone and shale cap, as thick as 50 feet in places, acts as an umbrella over limestone ridges. The umbrella leaks at places called sinkholes, from which surface water makes its way underground, eroding the limestone into a honeycomb of caverns.
The park illustrates a number of stages of the Earth’s evolutionary history and contains ongoing geological processes and unique wildlife. Nearly every type of cave formation is known within the site. The flora and fauna of Mammoth Cave is the richest cave-dwelling wildlife known, with more than 130 species within the cave system. Today, this huge and complex network of cave passages provides a clear, complete and accessible record of the world’s geomorphic and climatic changes.
Mammoth Cave National Park was established on July 1, 1941 to preserve the cave system, including Mammoth Cave, the scenic river valleys of the Green and Nolin rivers, and a section of south central Kentucky. It is a United Nations World Heritage site.