Mammoth Cave has several camping options depending on what type of camping you enjoy. I decided to check out several of those to get a full understanding of just what all was out there. Amongst these options are permitted backcountry camps which are hike in camps accessed by free permits.
To get one of the permits you must register with a valid ID and the make and model of your vehicle. This keep unattended vehicles from being towed from parking areas. Camps are as close as half a mile from public use camping areas but scatter over a vast area. They are large enough for groups but also accessed by individuals.
I hiked out to the first of the group camps positioned on my map, which was given to me at the Visitor Center when I registered, no one appeared to be there so I checked it out fully and determined it was perfect for what I needed. There were plenty of trees for coverage or for those wanting to set up a hammock. Fire rings are located at each of the sites and they have been very minimally cleared making for a great area to set up a tent or several small tents.
The first camp is not very deep into the backcountry, yet is still very quiet and perfect for someone who wants a little adventure without a full day of hiking just to get to camp. There was a nearby flow of water and you could use a lifestraw or purification tabs for converting this water, however they do recommend you bring your own water to drink.
All in all, of the backcountry camps I have visited this one was one of the better ones. I didn't check out others on the map on this trip because I didn't want to be as deep into the woods where there was even more chance of encountering bears.
- Get your permit earlier in the day - They issue permits up to 15 minutes before close but only issue certain amount per day, best to get your permit early.
- Tie up your food and trash - This area is known for wildlife so you will want to secure your items up high at your camp to not attract animals into your campsite.
We hiked the First Creek Loop Trail at Mammoth Cave National Park and backcountry camped. The campiste itself was okay. There was a fire pit and log to sit on. There were plenty of trees to hang a hammock. There was a water source, but the park ranger didn't really recommend getting and filtering water from it, and once we arrived, we could see why. You would have a difficult time actually getting down to the water as there was no real clearing or way to it. The also was a very thick, green sludge film on top of the water. So we carried in what we would need for our overnight. The campsite was decent size and away from any others, so it was nice an quiet. We did have to take a very short ferry ride in our car to get across the water.
This place was great! Very interesting place to visit. Way unexpected divercity. Subterranean beauty on a grand scale! Very knowledgeable guides with interesting facts and stories. Excellent way to spend a day!
This campground was reasonably priced, but lacked electric & water at each campsite. There was a good fire pit with cooking grill, efficient, clean bathrooms, but showers were at camp store, cost money to use, and generally not very nice. There was a laundromat & a post office connected to camp store. It was pretty there, & closest camping to the caves. But we missed the conveniences of electric, water, & nice, free showers!
We were nervous about our tent fitting on the pad…..but we could have fit 4 tents on the pad. There was a picnic table, tree coverage, and close to the bathrooms. It was muggy outside, but the bathrooms were air conditioned! There were 2 stalls and 2 sinks, but it was clean. Showers, laundry, and post office are located by the store. You have to pay $1.00 for 4 minutes. There was a storm that blew in the night we stayed, but there were plenty of drains under the pad. It was quiet, clean, and spacious. I wanna go back….like today.
Ferguson is two miles into the back country at Mammoth Cave. The last half mile, trail to campsite only, is a bit thick with a stream crossing. At 1.5 miles you’ll hit a nice spot where two streams come together. That’s your water source so load up before the last half mile. Ferguson is extremely secluded, nice tent landing, fire ring and trees for hammocking. Permits are required for all Mammoth Cave Backcountry sites, they can be obtained at the Visitor’s Center.
We love caves as well so we decided to come here after a climbing trip to the Red. We were stunned by the amazing and captivating karst formations! Its like delving down into a deep inside out alien world!
This is a really nice campground, with many sites that had good privacy that were screened with wooded areas. It wasn’t that you couldn’t see the next site through the woods, but they were far enough away that you didn’t feel on top of each other. That being said, there were many sites that had very little privacy, particularly those near the bathrooms. If unsure, I would call the camp office about particular sites depending on what you’re looking for. The bathrooms were clean and well-kept, had toilets and sinks available and were scattered throughout the campground. Potable water through pumps, but there was no dishwashing station. For showers you had to go towards the gated entrance where the showers and laundry room were located. The showers were coin operated so that was a little different for us. But it worked. The camp store was good, and the people who worked at were helpful. It was well located with in the national Park. We had deer and wild turkeys walking through the campsites as well as several species of songbirds.
I was impressed by this campground. We love visiting national parks and we usually don't plan out where we're going in advance. This was the first place to camp in a national park that had spots available. The spots were shaded and cozy. There was a fireplace at each one and trees. There was also a bathroom near by. If you like going to restaurants sometimes while camping they had an amazing restaurant located near camp called The Lodge at Mammoth Cave.
Quiet and laid back. The bathrooms were very clean and also air conditioned, which was a nice treat for a few minutes to step out of the humid June heat. They were flush toilets. There was potable water right by the bathrooms. There were no showers but if you drove right outside the campground in the park there was coin operated showers and laundry room. There was also a camp store and post office. There were trails that ran through the campground and ones right outside in the park. During the day you could schedule tours to the caves which was a great view.