I’ve been wanting to get there for ages.
Finally, made it last week on our way down to Big Lagoon State Park.
Of all the NP’s I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, this one takes first place for sucking the very marrow out of an amazing national treasure.
Let’s not bother discussing the general store, the PAY SHOWERS, or the $20/night for a rustic site in the Mammoth NP campground.
My beef is how the National Park Service is running Mammoth Cave, itself.
Let’s Go See This Mammoth Cave!
“Exploring Mammoth National Cave” makes for a good read but, let’s see the real thing!
Not so fast.
You can’t just go traipsing into a rock cave. Except for the “self-guided” tour- I’ll cover that below. The only other way to (legally) see this “unimpaired natural resource” is through the only two “guided tours” available at this time of year. One of the staff told us the night before to be Johnny-on-the-spot when the doors open at the Visitor Center to buy tickets, as they fill up inside 10 minutes. We couldn’t do a guided tour, since taking the whole family would have cost a small fortune, and it didn’t fit our schedule. Thanks, NPS!
Well, we’ll do the $35.00 option. The $5.00/person (our 14 month old was ‘free’) “self-guided” tour is about fifty yards on nicely landscaped pavers, then maybe another fifty yards on a manicured path. Nearly the entire length you’re corralled down a stainless steel and lexan guardrail, safely positioned out of arms length of the cave walls (God forbid your parasitic dioxin spewing fingers touch the rock). The whole distance is hardwired with indirect lighting. Anywhere you’re not contained behind heavy-duty rail, you’re contained with rope and stanchion.
I guess I can understand the “No Flash Photo”- but no tripods? No monopods??
So, I set my SLR on a rock to take a long exposure, and some NPS Nazi with a 20,000 lumen flashlight starts screaming at me to get off the rocks.
This is their idea of “resource conservation”?
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
I don’t know about you but, all the fences, walkways, “KEEP OUT” and “KEEP OFF” signs seem to fly in the face of NPS maintaining our natural resources “unimpaired”.
It’s a NATIONAL PARK. It’s supposed to be there for our enjoyment. We are stewards of this earth, not prisoners.
You’re Lucking to be Seeing it at all, you Human Parasite!
I mean all that moisture laden carbon dioxide being exhaled… it’s a good thing they don’t simply hermetically seal the whole damn place, right?
Wrong. Don’t tell me a million visitors a year is going to have more an impact than the raw power of nature, itself. The Yellowstone earthquake of ’59 changed the park more in 10 minutes than 100,000 years of human interaction could ever have. Rivers were rerouted, thousands of trees downed, the elevation changed by as much as 11′ in some areas!
Goats clearing acres of grass is OK, but
trim it with a riding mower OH MY GOD NO!
My point is; it’s only humans that can destroy nature- never a herd of roaming bison.
No matter how hard grant-hungry ‘scientists’ may try to convince you of the “Human Parasitic Syndrome”, no human interaction can match the power found in one natural event like a volcanic eruption, hurricane, earthquake…
Mother Nature is too resilient, too creative, too formidable to be forever and immutably changed by some shuffling feet or greasy fingers.
If a delicate cryptobiotic gets stamped out in one location, or a dune drifts off one shore- nature simply adapts and balances in amazing and unexpected ways.
Nature is constantly changing whether we humans try to ‘protect’ it or not.
Spray Painting is just how the Indigenous Species Mark Their Territory
Of course, miscreants do wander into NP’s, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of them to make a beautiful place an eyesore. Whether it’s theft, vandalism, or just plain old stupid, irresponsible behavior. Unfortunately, that must be dealt with. Keeping my family out because of the actions of a few is wrong, and unnecessary.
There are alternatives to securing these national treasures, and the way NPS is going about it is wrong. It denies responsible citizens access, and it does the very thing the NPS was instituted to guard against, i.e. development and commercialization. Is what the National Park Service doing all that much different than vandals and “taggers”?
So, now the awesome natural phenomenon of Mammoth Cave is as accessible as a bank vault, and has all the magic of a Disney ride.