Is there Camping in Mammoth Cave National Park Kentucky?

Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is a magnificent natural area with abundant outdoor activities. Such activities include cave tours, wildlife viewing, kayaking, hiking, and stargazing, among others. This park, though, doesn’t get as much notoriety as other famous national parks in the USA. Nonetheless, visiting this park and camping here overnight should definitely be at the top of your national park bucket list. 

There are plenty of options for camping Mammoth Cave National Park. The park has three frontcountry campgrounds and thirteen designated backcountry campsites or riverside camping options. 

In addition to discussing camping sites and options, we’ll approach other related topics regarding camping, including:

  • Can you camp for free at Mammoth Cave National Park?
  • What’s the weather at Mammoth Cave like?

Here’s a brief summary of what you need to know about camping in Mammoth Cave!

Camping at Mammoth Cave 

The three frontcountry campgrounds at Mammoth Cave offer common camping amenities to make your experience much more comfortable. Convenient services such as laundry machines, camping supplies, and shower facilities are all available in the park. Additionally, some of these frontcountry campgrounds are close to the visitor center and cave tours. 

Frontcountry Campgrounds

Mammoth Cave Campground – This developed campground is conveniently located only ¼ mile from the visitor center. It comprises 111 campsites with a mix of tent-only sites, group sites, tent or RV sites, and accessible sites. This campground is perfect for those wanting a genuine national park camping experience. While simultaneously having access to amenities and close proximity to cave tours and other park ventures. 

Maple Springs Group Campground – This campground is located in the park’s northern section. It’s about six miles from the visitor center and three miles north of Green River Ferry. It’s perfect for those with larger groups and those seeking more seclusion. Horses are also welcome at this campsite. Electric and water hookups for RVs are provided at all sites. There is also a starting point for over 70 miles of backcountry trails.

Houchin Ferry Campground – This beautiful campground sits directly beside the Green River. This is also the past location of the historic Houchin Ferry, which shuttled people up and down the Green River. The Houchin Ferry Campground is operated year-round and is set about 15 miles from the visitor center and 2 miles east of Brownsville, KY. The campground comprises 12 tent-only campsites in a quiet area with drive-up access. 

Houchin Ferry Campground campsite on the river view
One of the perks of staying at the Houchin Ferry Campground is that every campsite has a river view. NPS photo

Backcountry Campgrounds

There are also 13 additional backcountry campgrounds and riverside camping opportunities. Such backcountry camping provides visitors a chance to discover solitude and remoteness amongst the rugged hills and awe-inspiring woodlands here. 

The backcountry campsites can, however, be challenging to reach and must be accessed by hiking, riding a horse, or paddling on the river for several miles.

Can you camp for free at Mammoth Cave National Park?

The three frontcountry campgrounds in the park do require a fee to stay at. These camping fees vary depending on the site. Reservations are recommended and can be made through Recreation.gov. The fees for each site are as follows:

Mammoth Cave Campground:

Regular Site (No Hookups) – $25.00/night—————–Senior/Access Pass Holder – $12.50/night

Group Site (No hookups/Tent Only) – $40.00/night—–Senior/Access Pass Holder – $40.00/night

Maple Springs Group Campground:

Group Site (Hookups) – $50.00/night———————Senior/Access Pass Holder – $50.00/night

Horseback Group Site (Hookups) – $50.00/night—–Senior/Access Pass Holder – $50.00/night

Houchin Ferry Campground:

Regular Site (No Hookups) – $20.00/night—————Senior/Access Pass Holder – $10.00/night

Backcountry Camping Permits

The thirteen backcountry primitive camping sites do require a permit which is $10 per trip. These permits can be bought online through Recreation.gov or in person at the Mammoth Cave Campground Kiosk.

camping trip through Mammoth Cave's backcountry with ridge-top views of the Green River Valley
A camping trip through Mammoth Cave’s backcountry rewards backpackers with perfect ridge-top views of the Green River Valley. NPS Photo / Mary Schubert

What’s the weather at Mammoth Cave Like?

Kentucky has more of a mild climate coupled with moist conditions. The average temperature during the summer range in the high 80s, while winters range in the low 40s. The park is situated in the southern part of the state. This section of Kentucky receives the highest average precipitation for the entire state, seeing about 50 inches of rain per year, mostly during spring. 

Winters often bring mild to moderate snow and ice. Storms in this region can occur all year round, and tornados and floods have the potential to form. However, this type of severe weather is uncommon and infrequent in the area. The temperature deep inside the cave stays at a consistent 54°F (12°C) all year long. 

You can find a chart of the park’s average highs and lows throughout the year here

Final Thoughts

Camping in Mammoth Cave National Park is a doable and enjoyable experience. 

The numerous campgrounds found here are diverse and fit the needs of all types of visitors. 

The three frontcountry campgrounds offer pleasant amenities, plus excellent locations near the park’s entrance. 

The thirteen modest backcountry campgrounds are certainly not as deluxe as their frontcountry counterparts. But they offer unmatched privacy and solitude amongst the park’s beautiful forested and riverside wilderness. 

These campgrounds, however, are not free. The frontcountry campgrounds require you to pay a fee on a per-night basis, while the backcountry sites require a permit costing $10 per trip. 

Camping at this magnificent national park is, without a doubt, something everyone should experience at least once. The park is truly a nature lover’s paradise. 

Camping overnight here for a few days allows you to experience the park’s iconic Mammoth Cave System – The longest cave in the world! What’s more, the park has a massive variety of other outdoor activities to experience, only adding to the magnificence of this unique park. 

Don’t wait! Plan your ultimate camping trip today! 

Want a FREE complete list and recap of all our US National Parks as well as downloadable maps and other great resources? Check out our US National Parks List and Map guide!

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About Me

My husband and I have three precious daughters and live in the Kansas City, KS area. One of our favorite things to do is travel across the country visiting our extraordinary US National Parks!

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Happy Travels! Sandy

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