Gr8LakesCamper: Cincinnati & Mammoth Cave Part II

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July 9, 2010

This, the second of two posts on our recent camping trip to Cincinnati and Mammoth Cave, will complete the journey to the famous Kentucky landmark.

As I mentioned earlier, although we enjoyed our stay in Cincinnati we weren’t all that unhappy to leave Miami Whitewater Forest County Park. But with Mammoth Cave next on the agenda, excitement was high so we loaded up and soon were on our way.

Before we made it to our campground, we scheduled a brief stop in downtown Louisville to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. I was a little bit leery because I would be pulling our 2000 Trail-Lite B22 Bantam hybrid through downtown Louisville. But the lady I talked with at the museum said it wouldn’t be a problem, and she directed me to the employee parking lot two blocks away (at the end of 10th Avenue toward the river) that was more than adequate for RVs.

We ran into fellow RVers at a rest stop on the way who just happened to be from Louisville. They, too, said there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. (Side note: RVers are the friendliest bunch of people on the planet!) As it turns out, we only had to drive a small portion of downtown Louisville and it was a piece of cake. The employee lot was perfectly fine, and the short walk to the museum was just what we needed after having been traveling for a couple of hours.

The museum was wonderful and I highly recommend it. Although you can’t take pictures during the tour, there were plenty of photo opps in the museum portion, including life-size statues of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Ken Griffey Jr. Also, we got to pose with authentic game-used bats of Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, David Ortiz and Evan Longoria. The end of the tour concluded with everyone receiving mini-Louisville Sluggers bats. Way cool!

From there it was another couple of hours to Mammoth Cave and our campground at Nolin Lake State Park.

What did we think of Nolin Lake State Park? It is one of the nicest RV campgrounds we have ever been to. Very large, very level, and mostly private campsites. Campfire ring with steel grate. Post with hook to hang lanterns. Water and electric at all sites. Chain sunk into the ground to either tie off your pet or unruly youngster. The gravel RV pad, once you got back into your campsite, opened out into a gravel “yard.” It made for dusty conditions, but truly a very minor inconvenience.

We bought our wood from the registration station, and two armfuls only cost $7.40, including delivery. Each armful lasted one night. Better yet, it was real campfire wood, not the cheap bark you find at most campgrounds.

The staff was extremely friendly. In fact, one night one of the employees played a game of cops and robbers with several of the kids. A handful of kids would ride their bikes as they were being “chased” by the park employee in his golf cart. He held a small blue LED light that blinked on and off, so he was the sheriff.

Getting from Nolin Lake State Park to Mammoth Cave was simple. It’s only about 12-14 miles away by way of the Green River Ferry (free of charge), and since it’s not the main entrance into the national park, you won’t get caught in any traffic jams (We were there on the Fourth of July weekend and never had to wait for either the ferry or to get into the park).

As far as Mammoth Cave, it was as spectacular as advertised. Huge passageways as well as claustrophobic-inducing portions — Fat Man’s Misery — plus deep drops and soaring domes makes Mammoth Cave one of those places (like Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, etc.) every American ought to to see once in their lifetime.

We took two tours — River Styx and New Entrance — and each showed us different parts of the cave. Each was about 2.5 hours and not difficult at all. The New Entrance tour does include 500 steps, but 280 of them were all going down.

Also, thanks to Thomas Becher for his suggestion on bringing flashlights. They were very handy and other people remarked how they wish they would have thought of that. Also thanks to Marilyn for her suggestion on what to wear — long sleeves and/or a light jacket, plus jeans (although shorts worked for me) seemed to be best.

One other note: we tried to take photos inside the cave, but they didn’t turn out well because there just wasn’t enough light.

We left Mammoth Cave Sunday morning and drove 8 hours for home, stopping just a few times. No problems and no surprises on the ride home — just the way I like it. (Although the Kentucky hills made for terrible mileage — oh well).

From the personal blog: KOA reports the biggest camping weekend ever, and from the “Big Book of BBQ” comes a great recipe for Sweet & Sour Ribs. Click here to read more.

Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Midwest. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook and the personal blog.

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  4. @Roger-Ohio: You should be able to without much trouble. When we crossed in the ferry, there was end-to-end room for a full size pickup, a car, and our extended wheelbase TrailBlazer.

  5. Roger-Ohio

    We travel in a small (24′ bumper to bumper) Class-C. Will the ferry take up from Nolan to mamouth?