It's the most immense and extensive cave system on Earth. Even now, after hundreds, maybe even 1000's of years of research and exploration, the full reach of this mega-cavern remains a mystery. With nearly 400 miles of explored and surveyed passageways, mammoth cave kentucky is at least 3 times longer than any cave known to man. A lifetime could be spent and it still wouldn't be enough time to explore the hundreds of miles of passageways that remain.
This vast cave system holds the world's most diverse cave ecosystem. Approximately 130 forms of life can be found in Mammoth Cave. Most are quite small. Some use the cave as only as a haven, while others are such specialized cave dwellers that they can live nowhere else. All are dependent on energy from the surface. Life in the cave is not separate from the rest of the natural communities found in Mammoth Cave National Park. It is an extension of the larger biological whole, whose diversity and abundance are preserved in this place. To tour the cave and not explore the park's surface trails and waterways is to gain but half of the total picture.
Researchers feel that the original tribes of North America made the earliest forays into mammoth cave Kentucky, pulling from its bowels salt and other minerals. Other tribes may have used part of the cave network as a haven. But organized, recorded research and exploration didn't actually begin until the late 1700's.
Legislation didn't fully recognize mammoth cave Kentucky as a national park until 1926. And it took another 40 years to adequately create the park is that is internationally known today. Even then after all those years, less than a fraction of the cave's internal structure had been explored and survey. Until surveying techniques caught up with man's imagination and motivation, only 40 miles of mammoth cave Kentucky had been explored. But advances in geology and science eventually allowed for great strides to be in the cave system's exploration. Several caves and passageways in the park proved to be inter-related. And research has shown that that the full extent of mammoth cave Kentucky extends far beyond the surface boundaries of mammoth cave national park itself.
Perhaps the greatest mystery of mammoth cave kentucky isn't the endless miles of explored and unexplored caves and passageways. The ecosystem that exists within the cave and beneath the earth's surface is what continually draws scientists and researchers. The cave boasts many forms of life - many too small for the eye to see - but linked just the same to the life cycle on the surface above.
In modern times the general public seems to flock to the mystery of the caves below. Mammoth cave tours sell out day after day. In fact visitors can take one of several different mammoth cave tours; each one revealing a specific portion of the wonder and spectacle of mammoth cave national park.
Mammoth Park Kentucky was voted a World Heritage Site in the early 1980's. It may be one of the last great mysteries on earth: hundreds of miles of unexplored caves and passageways that may reveal a multitude of answers to the question of who we are and how we came to be.