There are four campgrounds in Mammoth Cave National Park. They are: Dennison Ferry, Headquarters Campground, Houchins Ferry camping area, and Maple Springs Campground. All campgrounds are first come first serve except for Maple Spring Group Campground.
Picnic Shelters are available: One open picnic shelter, $35.00 per day, limited availability, and one enclosed picnic shelter, $60.00 per day, available Saturday and Sunday March 1through Memorial Day; daily Memorial Day through Labor Day; Saturday and Sunday Labor Day through November 30.
Campground Reservations may be made in advance for Headquarters Campground and for Maple Springs Group Campground. Call the National Park Reservation Service at: 1-800-967-2283 or reserve online: Reservations.
Maple Springs Group Campground accommodates horses and large groups of people (limit 25 per site), $25.00 per night.
|Campground||Open||Close||Sites||Dump Station||Laundry||Showers||Camp Store||Toilets||Fee|
|Dennison Ferry||All Year||4||No||No||No||No||Pit||None|
|Houchins Ferry||All Year||12||No||No||No||No||Pit||$10.00|
|Maple Springs Group Camping||May||Nov||7||No||No||No||No||Pit||$25.00|
Backcountry - North Side
Over a dozen campsites dot the 70+ miles of trail on the North Side. Hike here and you may not see another living soul. Seek solitude in the rugged hills and deep valleys, camp by river, lake or waterfall, explore bluffs and ridgetops. Ride horses along these backcountry trails or guide yourself on a spelunking trip into Ganter Cave. Drive the scenic routes of Houchins Ferry Road and Little Jordan Road. Seek out the Big Woods, one of the few remaining stands of old-growth timber in Kentucky. If you have a large group of friends, camp out at the Maple Springs Group Campground.
North Side hints and regulations:
A backcountry use permit is required for all backcountry camping.
Maple Springs Group Campground accommodates groups of 1 to 24 campers.
Hikers and horseback riders must sign in at trailhead registers.
Horses are available through liveries outside the park. Inquire at the Visitor Center.
A useful guide to the backcountry is A Guide To The Surface Trails of Mammoth Cave National Park, by Stanley D. Sides, available in the Visitor Center book sales area. Also find the Trails Illustrated map of Mammoth Cave National Park.
Hikers are encouraged to pick up the brochure "Exploring On Top of Mammoth Cave" at the Visitor Center before taking any hike in the park. This brochure contains maps and other important information.
Sixty miles of trails north of the Green River (all except Ganter Cave Trail) are open for horseback riding. Day-use horseback riders can park trailers at:
Lincoln Trailhead, across the road from the Maple Springs Campground bulletin board.
Maple Springs Trailhead, .25 mile north of Maple Springs Campground.
Good Springs Church.
A free trail map is available in the park's free brochure, and other maps and guides sold at the Visitor Center show topographic features and trails in greater detail.
Several rules apply to all horseback riders using the park:
When hikers and horses meet, horses must be slowed to a walk and hikers must remain quiet.
Always hitch horses more than 100 feet away from designated campsites, trails or water sources.
If you plan to camp overnight in the park with horses, the following information applies:
Overnight horseback riders can use Maple Springs Group Campground, located five miles from the Visitor Center and three miles north of the Green River Ferry. The most direct route requires crossing the Green River Ferry, a free ferry with an 8 ton load limit. However, some vehicles (i.e. long horse trailers) cannot be ferried solely because of the length or ground clearance. The Green River Ferry is open daily from 6:00 am - 9:55 pm (except when closed for repairs or during hazardous river conditions). Alternate routes via state and county roads are available and may be more practical for trailers.
Three campsites at Maple Springs Group Campground are available for riders March through November. Each site can accommodate up to eight horses. Campsites cost $15.00 per night and require reservations. For reservations, call the Chief Rangers office at 502-758-2251.
More specific rules apply to horseback riders using campsites at Maple Springs Group Campground:
Sites 1, 2, 3 and 4 at Maple Springs are designed to accommodate horses. Do not use any of the other Maple Springs
Campground sites if you are camping with horses.
Park vehicles only at the gravel spaces located at each campsite. If you need additional parking, use the parking area across the road from the bulletin board.
Leave your campsite clean for the next campers.
Dispose of horse manure by scattering it in the woods at least 200 feet behind the campsites.
Picket areas are located behind sites 1, 2, 3 and 4. You must use these facilities to tie up your horses. Never tie horses to trees.
The central grassy area is for amphitheater and recreational use only. Do not let your horses use the area.
Do not allow your horses near the water spigots in the campground. You must pack water to your horses for drinking or bathing. Hoses can be attached to water spigots temporarily, but do not leave hoses attached.
Over 30 miles of the Green and Nolin Rivers trace through the park and offer a wealth of recreational opportunities. Angle for muskellunge, bluegill, catfish, bass, perch, crappie, and other game fish. Canoe the rivers and camp along their shores. Camp by the river at the Houchins Ferry and Dennison Ferry campgrounds. Cross the Green River on two ferries -- Green River Ferry and Houchins Ferry -- two of the few operating rural ferries in the nation. Cruise on the Miss Green River II looking for wildlife, springs and river bluffs.
|Park Boundary||Dennison Ferry||3.0|
|Dennison Ferry||Green River Ferry||7.5|
|Green River Ferry||Houchins Ferry||12|
|Houchins Ferry||Lock & Dam # 6||3|
|Tailwaters Recreation Area||Houchins Ferry||9|
River hints and regulations:
Swimming in the river is not recommended because of strong currents and deep holes.
Camping along the floodplain is by permit only. Inquire at the Visitor Center before camping along the river.
Observe weather conditions. Flooding is possible. In case of storms, leave the water and seek shelter.
Canoes are available through liveries outside the park. Inquire at the Visitor Center.
Boats may be taken in and out of the water at Green River Ferry and Houchins Ferry. Canoes may be taken in and out at Green River, Houchins and Dennison Ferries.
Tickets for Miss Green River II cruises are available at the Visitor Center, through the concessionaire.
Fishing in the Green and Nolin Rivers is good throughout the year, with spring and summer being most productive. Black bass, crappie, bluegill, muskellunge, and catfish, along with almost 100 other species, frequent the river. State creel and size limits apply (see below), but you do not need a state fishing license as long as you fish within park boundaries. In the park, you can fish with pole and line, rod and reel, or trot and throwline; other methods, including limb lines and jug lines, are prohibited. If you use trot lines, you must attach a tag with your name and address, place hooks 30 or more inches apart, tend your lines daily, and remove lines when you are not using them.
At Sloans Crossing Pond and First Creek Lake, using any live bait other than worms is prohibited; On the rivers, you can use minnows or worms. Using bait seines in the park is strictly regulated, so please check with rangers for specific rules and regulations. Because park wildlife is protected, collecting frogs, turtles, mussels, etc. or digging for bait is strictly prohibited.
No fishing license is required in the park.
Kentucky fishing regulations apply. Inquire at the Visitor Center before fishing.
Fish by handline, rod and reel, or trot and throw line. All other methods are prohibited.
Harvesting of mussels is prohibited in the park.
|Species||Daily||Possession||Size - Inches|
Boating and Canoeing
Within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park, twenty-five miles of the Green River and six miles of the Nolin River carry boaters past dramatic bluffs, majestic trees, and wildlife. The Green River, dotted with sandbars, islands, and subsurface springs, averages 200 feet wide and ten feet deep. The Nolin River also averages about ten feet deep, but its channel is narrower than the Green River. At normal water levels, the Green River runs at about five miles per hour. The current in the Nolin is slower than the current in the Green. Therefore, both rivers offer pleasant canoeing, even for novices. However, when the rivers flood, the current can be very swift. Regardless of the water level, always be alert to hazards, such as submerged trees and rocks, drifting debris, and the two ferries that carry vehicles and passengers across the Green River.
To explore the Green River, launch your boat at Dennison Ferry Campground, Green River Ferry, or Houchins Ferry. The access at Dennison Ferry is steep and therefore suitable for small "John boats" and canoes only. The best take-out points are at Green River Ferry or Houchins Ferry. If you prefer a longer overnight trip, you can launch at Munfordville, upstream from the park boundary. On the Nolin River, launch your boat just below Nolin River Dam at Tailwaters Recreation Area, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. When you reach the Green River, paddle upstream against a gentle current and take out at Houchins Ferry. It is not recommended that you continue paddling down the Green River to Lock and Dam #6. Located outside the park, the approach to the dam is not marked with warning signs; being sucked into the current above the dam could be dangerous.
You may rent canoes from concessionaires located near the park. With a backcountry camping permit, you can camp anywhere within the floodplain more than 1/2 mile from ferry crossings or developed campgrounds. River levels and current fluctuate dramatically, particularly during the winter months, and snags or sandbars may be hidden underwater. You must bring at least one Coast Guard-approved life preserver for each person.
All boat passengers must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device.
Never dump or discharge refuse in the water.
Do not leave boats unattended for longer than 24 hours, without written permission from the Chief Ranger.
Boating accidents resulting in property damage, personal injury, or death must be reported to a park ranger as soon as possible.
All other Coast Guard regulatory requirements apply.
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