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Quiet campground across the river from the caves

Like most, we were here to visit Mammoth Cave National Park. We stayed on the Maple Springs side of the Green River to be closer to the mountain bike trails and are glad we did. The trails were great for both of us and we could ride straight from the campground. If you are in a RV note that you can't go across the ferry with your rig!!! You have to go around the park to access this campground. We are so glad we realized that ahead of time and didn't have to back track. The campground was quiet and we had it completely to ourselves one night. The campground had pit toilets but no shower. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we almost stayed an additional night! If you plan to visit the cave, be sure to book your tour ahead of time. The tours were all sold out when we got there!

Backcountry camping

Green River is located in Mammoth Cave National Forest near Brownsville, Ky off I65.

This NF is within 30 minutes of my residence and I visit often. You can backcountry camp but first you have to check in at the main area. Then you are pretty free to camp where you want within the guidelines. There are some sites already out there , if you choose to make your own follow “bug protocols”! I messed up and got to suffer through chiggers for a week after our adventure, not fun.

Mammoth offers the cave and Green River of course but many people don’t realize how extensive and unique the hiking areas are. Get a good map and pack your bag you can hike, bike or horseback to several secluded areas that offer a backcountry feel, good for practicing for longer duration hikes. Once you cross the Green River by ferry you are in a whole other world that is not crowded with tourists (usually;)

We set up in chigger central and explored the area which had several small rivulets and a nice little pond that reminded me of some horror movie or other (lol) I saw a family of four and a couple hiking through but otherwise the area was mine.

BEST Tent Campground

Let me just say, it is nice to find a campground that not only welcomes tent campers but seems to be designed for them exclusively. This campground is primarily a tent site. There are a handful of RV sites, but over 3/4 of the camp is set up for tents only which makes for a better overall outdoor feel without the humming of generators, the height of large RVs blocking your tree views and the overall feeling the you are squished in next to someone.

The closest campground to the Visitor Center, this campground has narrow roads through camp, flushing toilets and hot showers. Preparing for tent campers, the amenities are vast enough to not feel like you are stuck waiting for a shower because they have not properly accommodated you. It is a great feeling to have.

Seasonally there is a small camp store which offers ice and firewood along with some basic items. I even picked up an ice cream here on a hot evening.

My site was $20 and was well shaded, almost nestled into the trees.I was in site 46 which was on the bend and seemed a bit closer to other campers, yet I still had plenty of space for my activities as a solo camper. Had I have been in a larger group or even not camping as a single I might have opted for a site a bit further around the loop.


  • If you are a senior and have an access pass you can present this when booking and get 1/2 off your site.

  • Look at the campground map in advance, you wlll be happy to have done so when looking for larger sites or sites which offer pull through options.

Backcountry Camping - Free Permit

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.
Fun spot

Very good owners are fantastic, events throughout the year.

Just "okay" backcountry camping

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.

Better than expected

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!

Very rustic

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!

Clean and secluded

Two lakes within the recreation area to fish and boat in. During mid August, Celine lake has freshwater Jellyfish that you can catch. Campsites nice!

Good campground

This is a pretty good campground but it’s butted up to Holiday World. A little noise from that can get on your nerves if you want to listen to the great outdoors. But if you’re looking for a campground by a theme park this is right up your alley.

Good campground, trails not pet friendly

I just want to start by saying this is a really neat park. The only problem that I have with it is if you have a dog there’s only one trail that is dog friendly. The campground itself is nice. Primitive is available. But nice campground.

Best place to stay in the park!

Close to the store, visitor center, and tours. Great location, clean sites, everything we needed. Bathrooms were exceptional!! Best ones we've stayed in!! Would have been nice to have a utility sink to wash dishes, I hated dumping my wash water down those sparkling toilets!! lol

Hidden jewel

My family and I loved this little campground. It was well maintained and had great activities for the kids.

Kid Camping Paradise

This is my kids favorite campground and we always have a great time! Enjoy putt-putt, playgrounds, paddle boats, volleyball, swimming, game rooms, and water slides right next to Holiday World Amusement Park. There are always a lot of fun activities, and we love watching the golf cart parades and all the decorations on them, especially during holiday weekends. If you camp with kids, this is a top spot to visit! Shuttle over to Holiday World for a day, and then spend a day around the campground for a great long weekend!

Small tight spaces

Recently tried out Scales Lake…not my 1st choice. Sites were very small and close together. There were several different spots/clusters of camp sites. Some where full hook up, some primitive, some just electric, and all mixed together. The fire rings were very small with no grates to cook on. There was 1 bath house, very nice and clean and cooled, but not assemble to all camping sites. Also there were 2 playgrounds and a petting zoo. Lake has a small beach for swimming, slide with its own catch pool separate. Fishing allowed.

The streets in the town are extremely narrow, making it hard to get into the park.

Large sites close to Coooool Caves

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.

Nice, clean campground with great amenities

Really park, its even open in the winter. We stayed here in Nov. on the coldest night of the month. Had a blast, stayed warm, cooked food over the fire.

Great for car camping on a whim

My partner and I love Buzzards Roost but we used to love it more. It used to have a sweet little walk in spot down the bouldering trail that looked over the river. Now it is overgrown and you can't get back there. I wish the DNR would bring it back and maintain the river overlook down at the water. That being said, it is a beautiful drive in, a great shaded and well maintained pull in car camping area. It does fill up a bit since it is free so if you go to check out the wonderful walk down to the water don't take a camp spot. If you go to camp, pull directly into the spot you want to camp before you check out any of the short hiking around the spot.

Awesome campground and cute town!

We love coming here annually for Mother’s Day weekend. This campground has a lot to offer but is focused for seasonal camping. A lot of amenities and the town is fun to sight see.

Good hammock camping

Plenty of trees for hammock camping. No swimming options close by. Close to attractions. Clean campground over all.

Ferguson Backcountry Campsite

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.

Quiet Hoosier national Forest CG

This was a very quiet campsite in southern Indiana. We had a hard time finding dispered camping in the national Forest so we settled for this site. There was one other site occupied in the middle of the week so it was definitely quiet. Gravel platform for pitching a tent. Clean bathrooms with flush toilets and sinks which were nice.

Quaint campground in good location

Nice, clean campground with nice restrooms and general store. The location allows you to see the caves or go on trails near by.

great fishing

nice and clean great spot to camp and fish the hwy was a lil loud😕

A must visit if youre in kentucky

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!

Very nice campground, especially by the water.

Book sites by the water in advance.

Nice gem away from the City!!

peaceful and quiet with a small trolling only lake and swimming area.

Great Park for Families and Individuals

Scales Lake is a wonderful campground. It has primitive, cabIns, and RV camping. The camp has so much to do for kids and adults. Hiking, mountain bike trails along wIth pump track for kIds, a small petting zoo, and a beautiful lake front for swimming with water slide and diving boards. There is a boat ramp for fishing boats and kayaks. My husband and I live about ten miles away and we love staying at the campground. we always feel we are off on an adventure when we stay. The people are friendly and bathrooms are clean.

Beautiful Park!

We had 3 RVs in our group and we camped in one of the "wagon wheels". It was a very cool experience. I'm not sure how you could get in or out if all the spots were reserved. It took a collaborative effort when it was time to pull out. The "front" camper had to pull out first before the second could get hitched up. Then after the second was pulled forward, the third could hitch up. It was kind-of weird, but we loved the set-up while we were there. The pull through sites are nice, but they were pretty close together. (Nothing like sitting under your awning and looking at your neighbor's sewer pipe.) The park was absolutely beautiful. They put a lot of hard work in keeping it maintained. Very nice place. Definitely going back soon.