Superintendent’s Compendium




Superintendent’s Compendium of Designations, Closures, Permit Requirements and Other Restrictions Imposed Under Discretionary Authority.

Under the provisions of 54 U.S.C., Section 100751; and Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Parts 1 - 7, the following Superintendent’s Orders (Compendium) are established for Mammoth Cave National Park. Unless otherwise noted, these orders apply in addition to the provisions contained in Parts 1 – 7 of Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations.

These orders are effective:

Recommended: William Jaynes, Chief Ranger; 06/03/2024
Approved: Barclay C. Trimble, Superintendent; 06/03/2024


36 CFR § 1.5 Closures and Public Use Limits

(a)(1) The following visiting hours and public use limits are established for all or for the listed portions of the park, and the following closures are established for all or a portion of the park to all public use or to a certain use of activity.


Possession of the following items on all cave tours is prohibited:

  • Firearms
  • knives and/or other edged implements
  • pepper spray, mace and similar chemical aerosols
  • stun guns
  • packs that extend above the shoulders and below the hips
  • backpack baby carriers
  • strollers
  • walking sticks (except canes used to assist visitors who would otherwise have difficulty walking)

Except on designated tours or by permit, the following are prohibited in the cave:

  • Mobile extension poles designed to hold camera/phones for photographing, such as Selfie sticks, tripods, unipods, etc.
  • flash photography

Justification: the prohibition against these items is necessary for the safety of visitors and employees and resource protection. The prohibition of flash photography is necessary for the safety of visitors and employees, as well as minimize disturbance to wildlife.

The possession and/or use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol and/or controlled substances are prohibited.

Justification: The possession and/or use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol and/or controlled substances presents a hazardous condition for park visitors, employees, and park resources.


All gated park administrative roads and fire roads are closed to public vehicular use unless authorized by the Superintendent.

Justification: These roads are not built or maintained for visitor use. Limited administrative use consistent with necessary Park operations is permitted to provide access to Park assets. Where authorized by permit, such use of administrative roads is authorized. However, this use is limited to that required to accomplish the purposes of the permit, work agreement or incident response.

The following areas are restricted to “Official Vehicles Only”:

  • Frozen Niagara Road
  • Carmichael Road
  • Maintenance Road to include Headquarters, Residential Areas and other Park Facilities
  • Historic Entrance Road
  • Bus Loop
  • Elevator

Justification: The areas closed by signs are used as management roads (i.e., transportation routes to and from cave entrances, service roads and service areas). Keeping these areas closed should not result in any adverse impact on visitor use.

The Superintendent may close any portion of the park roadways to motor vehicle use during periods of ice, snow, or any other hazardous condition. In most circumstances gates/barriers with appropriate signing will be utilized to deny access to the affected road area. Driving around these gates or barriers is prohibited.

Justification: The Superintendent must affect road closures during inclement weather or periods of other hazardous conditions in order to ensure public safety.

The Superintendent may prohibit fires at campgrounds and backcountry campsites during periods of high fire danger.

Justification: Prohibiting campfires during periods of high fire danger ensures public safety and prevents unplanned fires.


Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park is prohibited except as approved in writing by the Superintendent. Definition: The term "unmanned aircraft" means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g., model airplanes, quadcopters, and drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce.

Justification: It is necessary to maintain public health and safety and to protect park resources. The use of unmanned aircraft has the potential to cause unacceptable impacts such as harming visitors, causing excessive noise, impacting view sheds, impacting resources, and disturbing wildlife. Management Policies 2006 Section 1.5 requires caution when a park is confronted with a new park use such as unmanned aircraft. Less restrictive approaches are deemed to be insufficient, as this closure is a necessary, interim measure which will allow the NPS to consider how to address this new use on a long-term basis. Allowing the use of unmanned aircraft before the park has properly evaluated whether this use is appropriate could result in unacceptable impacts to park resources, park values, and visitor safety.



Climbing and rappelling are prohibited in the following areas. This includes either technical rock climbing and rappelling, or similar type activities.

  • Cedar Sink Bluffs
  • Indian Hill Bluffs
  • Great Onyx Job Corps Bluffs

Justification: These areas are more sensitive and would be negatively impacted by climbing activities.

The use of installed fixed protection (bolts, anchors, etc.) to establish or facilitate climbing routes is prohibited.

The physical possession and/or use of portable power tools to facilitate the installation of rock-climbing hardware, or for any other purpose are prohibited out of developed areas. This prohibition applies to all rotary drills, hammer drills, fastener guns, and related devices that rely upon fuel engines, batteries, explosive charges, or chemical propellants for power

Justification: The use of fixed installation protection systems (bolts, anchors, etc.) poses a threat to the mineral, geological and archaeological resources of the park and the visitor experience.


Swimming, wading, or bathing within 200 feet of the Green River Ferry crossing is prohibited.

Justification: The area at Green River Ferry crossing is used for the operation of the ferry and launching small watercraft. The safety of swimmers and bathers would be at risk in these areas. In addition, swimmers and bathers in these areas would interfere with the efficient completion of agency functions (i.e., the operation of the ferry).

Swimming in park waters is not recommended. At normal stage, the Green River flows at a relatively brisk 4.3 knots, or about 5 miles per hour - too strong to swim against.


The use of tubes, inflatable pool toys, or pool rafts to float the rivers is prohibited.

Justification: Tubing is prohibited due to the number of submerged tree limbs and other objects that may puncture tubes creating an unsafe environment.



Launching powerboats at Houchin Ferry is prohibited.

Justification: Due to the breach and subsequent removal of Lock and Dam 6, the water level in the Green River dropped to a level too low to safely launch boats.

Launching paddle craft is prohibited when the Green River exceeds 20' by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Gauge at the Green River Ferry Crossing.

Justification: The amount of drift/debris floating in the river at this level can create a hazardous condition for paddle craft operators.

All boat hulls, including kayaks and canoes, shall be cleaned before arriving in the park and launching in park waters.

Justification: To prevent the introduction and spread of exotic species in park waters.



All waters within the park are closed to harvesting of any species of freshwater mussels or possessing dead mussel shells.

Justification: Many of the park's mussels are on either the federal and/or state threatened or endangered species list. In addition, many mussel species are difficult to distinguish from one another. Therefore, to protect the many endangered species, all mussels have been included in this closure.



The Mammoth Cave Campground is restricted to campers only between 9:00 pm to 6:00 am, prevailing time.

Justification: The purpose of restricting the Mammoth Cave Campground to traffic from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am is to eliminate unnecessary traffic, such as wildlife viewers, which would otherwise interfere with campers sleeping.

The following are prohibited:

  • Entering and/or using the Dennison Ferry day use area from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am, prevailing time.
  • Entering and/or using the Picnic day use area from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am, prevailing time.
  • Entering and/or using the Joppa Church, Mammoth Cave Church, and Good Springs Church areas from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am, prevailing time.

Justification: This regulation is designed to restrict the opportunity for criminal activity and resource damage in the area.

Entering the Great Onyx Job Corps Center’s administrative/residential area in violation of officially posted signs regarding times and conditions of entry.

Justification: This regulation is designed to limit the occurrence of unauthorized traffic proceeding onto the Center.


36 CFR §1.5 (a) (2) the following areas have been designated for a specific use or activity, under the conditions and/or restrictions as noted.


Segway’s may be used by persons with disabilities within Mammoth Cave National Park in Campgrounds, Picnic Grounds, Heritage Trail, Sand Cave Trail, Sloan’s Pond Trail, and Mammoth Cave Bike and Hike Trail.

Operation is restricted to speeds of 5mph or less, between sunrise and sunset and prohibited during periods of low visibility such as heavy fog.

Justification: Allowing the use of Segway’s in the above manner has negligible negative impact on park resources and it provides greater accessibility for the mobility impaired.



In adherence to the park's White Nose Syndrome (WNS) Mitigation Plan, all persons entering caves are required to undergo approved cleansing procedures after exiting caves

Justification: White Nose Syndrome is a disease that is almost uniformly fatal to bats and is widespread at Mammoth Cave National Park. It is suspected to be spread through contaminated clothing or equipment being introduced into caves where bat colonies live. The post cave cleaning procedure is necessary to ensure that White Nose Syndrome organisms are not spread to other areas.



Backing vehicles down the approach ramp at Green River Ferry for the purpose of loading/unloading canoes, kayaks, and other non-motorized watercraft is prohibited. Persons with physical disabilities that preclude their carrying these types of watercraft to and from the approved loading/unloading zones may use the approach ramp. Persons claiming this exemption must have a visible valid identifier (i.e., a handicap parking placard) on their vehicle and be present when the activity is occurring.

Justification: Vehicles backing down the approach ramp at Green River Ferry while the ferry is in operation create a congested and potentially hazardous situation and also result in unavoidable delays in ferry operation.

All operators of vehicles utilizing the park ferry are required to:

  • Turn off engine while parked on ferry
  • Engage parking brake (if so equipped)
  • Remain in their vehicle
  • Follow loading/unloading directions provided by the ferry operator.

Justification: Prolonged or excessive engine exhaust creates a health hazard for ferry operators and other ferry passengers. Placing all vehicles in park greatly reduces the possibility a vehicle will accidentally drive off the ferry. Obeying any operating instructions provided by the ferry operator is necessary for the safety of the ferry operator and other ferry passengers and visitors.



The transport, possession, or burning of any non-certified kiln dried wood from outside the park is prohibited. For the purposes of this regulation, firewood is defined as any wood cut, sold, or intended for use as firewood, including chips, limbs, branches, etc. with or without bark. Kiln dried, finished and cut lumber or lumber scraps from which bark has been cut, like that purchased from a hardware store is not considered firewood.

Justification: This is intended to prevent or slow the introduction of exotic insects or diseases into Mammoth Cave National Park. The movement of firewood is regulated by the states and the federal government. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has documented that harmful species can be transported in firewood.



Engines when parked for a period of more than 5 minutes must be shut down.

Justification: The idling of engines adds unnecessary exhaust fumes to the air and diminishes the enjoyment by visitors of the peace and tranquility of the park.

CAVE ENTRY (36 CFR §7.36)

In addition to the toured cave routes, the following caves have been identified as open to the public:

  • Mammoth Cave Historic Entrance from the dripline to the gate
  • Pike Spring Cave (on the river)
  • Sand House Cave (on the river)

Justification: It has been determined that the public entering these areas does not pose a resource risk.


36 CFR § 1.6 Activities That Require A Permit

(f) The following is a compilation of those activities for which a permit from the Superintendent is required. Administrative, monitoring, and other fees may apply:

§2.10(a) the following camping activities:

  • Backcountry camping

Obtained at Mammoth Cave Campground kiosk or

§2.12 Audio Disturbances:

  • (a)(4) Operation of a public address system in connection with a public gathering or special event for which a permit has been issued pursuant to §2.50 or §2.51

Contact Superintendent's Office for special use permit

§2.50(a) Conduct a sports event, pageant, regatta, public spectator attraction, entertainment, ceremony, and similar events. An administrative fee applies.

Wedding/civil ceremonies are prohibited within park caves. These ceremonies would be disruptive to park operations and are a potential resource hazard.

Contact Superintendent's Office for special use permit

§2.51(a) Public assemblies, meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, parades, and other public expressions of views by groups of 25 or more require a permit.

Contact Superintendent's Office for special use permit

§2.52(c) Sale or distribution of printed matter that is not solely commercial advertising by groups of 25 or more requires a permit.

Contact Superintendent's Office for special use permit

§2.62 Memorialization:

  • (a) Erection of monuments (Requires approval from NPS Director)
  • (b) Scattering ashes must be completed in accordance with established terms and conditions.

Contact Superintendent's Office for special use permit

§5.5 Commercial Photography/Filming:

(a) Commercial filming is defined as digital or film recording of a visual image or sound recording by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience. It does not include news coverage or visitor use. (b) Still photography that takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or that uses model(s), set(s) or prop(s) that are not part of the location's national or cultural resources or administrative facilities.

Those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Contact Superintendent's Office for special use permit. 




36 CFR § 2.1 Preservation of Natural, Cultural, and Archaeological Resources


(a)(4) Gathering and possession of dead wood on the ground is permitted provided such wood is collected as fuel for campfires within the park. Campers may collect dead and down wood within 100’ of roadways and designated campsites to burn in the sites.

Justification: The collection and use of limited amounts of wood by manual means for use within the park enhances the visitor experience. As this collection occurs around developed areas, the park benefits from the removal of fuels from areas typically protected from wildfire. However, the disturbance of any natural resource must be carefully measured. The limits placed on this activity (hand collected and only for use in the park) protect the vast majority of dead and down trees as habitat.

(c)(1), (c)(2) The following fruits, nuts, berries, and fruiting bodies of fungi may be gathered by hand for personal use or consumption (commercial use is prohibited), in accordance with the noted size, quantity, collection sites, and/or use or consumption restrictions.

One gallon per person, per day of the following edible fruits, berries, and nuts may be gathered for personal use of consumption:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Mulberries
  • Elderberries
  • Grapes
  • Persimmons
  • Paw-Paws
  • Walnuts
  • Hickory nuts
  • Buckeyes
  • Edible Fungi (all species combined, including morels)

Any person gathering edible fungi will collect said fungi in a mesh container, allowing for the distribution of spores throughout the forest as the person continues to gather.

Inedible fungi may not be collected for medicinal, artistic, or other uses. (An inedible fungus is defined as one that is not consumed in its entirety by humans and may be extremely toxic to humans.)

Non-native fruits – no limit.

Justification: Collecting small quantities of edible berries, nuts, and fruits specified herein causes no adverse impact on Park resources and increases the visitor experience. This activity will not adversely affect wildlife or the reproductive potential of these species Taking of other plants, particularly when the entire plant is collected or uprooted harms the species and is prohibited by regulations. Animal populations are sufficient to spread the reproductive seed to insure the plant species survival.


36 CFR § 2.2 Wildlife Protection

(d) The transporting of wildlife lawfully taken outside Mammoth Cave National Park through the park is permitted under the following conditions and procedures:

  • A completed Hunter Harvest Log must be carried by the transporting individual.
  • If the animal has been checked in by telephone, the hunter must have a confirmation number issued by the state.
  • Travel must be by the most direct route with no stops, except as necessary to cross the ferry, as required by law, or at the direction of a law enforcement officer.
  • Animal carcasses must be kept out of site as much as practicable.
  • Animal carcasses will be subject to inspection at any time by an authorized person.
  • Retrieving game legally shot outside the park which has run into the park. (Direct communication with a commissioned law enforcement ranger is required.)

Justification: Restricting the use of the park roadways would create an unreasonable hardship on legal hunters. These regulations will allow park officials to distinguish between legally taken wildlife and wildlife possessed in violation of park regulations.

(e) The park is closed to the use of artificial light for purposes of viewing wildlife.

Justification: Spotlighting may potentially disturb wildlife; this activity is prohibited to minimize this chance of disturbance.


36 CFR § 2.10 Camping and Food Storage

(a)The sites and areas listed below have been designated for camping activities as noted. A permit system has been established for certain campgrounds or camping activities, and conditions for camping and camping activities are in effect as noted:

  1. Mammoth Cave Campground
  2. Maple Springs group Campground
  3. Houchin Ferry Campground
  4. The backyard of the Maple Springs residence*

Occupancy limits; i.e. the number of persons permitted to camp in a designated site and the maximum number of tents, trailers, or mobile home campers allowed per designated site are as follows:

Mammoth Cave Campground:

  • Loop A Group Campsites – 16 persons, tent camping only
  • Loop A, 8 persons, tent camping only
  • Loops B, C, and D – 8 persons

Maple Springs Group Campground (all sites are by reservation only):

  • Sites 1 – 4 equestrian use is allowed. Horses must be picketed in designated areas

Occupancy limits: 24 persons, 8 horses
Maximum of 3 horse trailers

  • Sites 1 and 2 have electric hooks up and are available to all user groups
  • Sites 5-7 are group sites

Occupancy limits: 24 persons, tent camping only

Houchin Ferry Campground (all sites are by reservation only):

8 persons and 2 tents
Road access prohibits large recreational vehicles (RV)

All tents must fit within the area of the campsite and not negatively impact the surrounding area or resources. All vehicles must fit on pavement or be parked in overflow parking.

The maximum length of stay in any campground shall not exceed 14 consecutive days.

*Camping in the backyard area of the Maple Springs residence is restricted to volunteer groups, educational groups, and researchers. Prior approval of the Chief of Science and Resource Management is required.

Justification: The campsites available are sufficient to provide varied camping opportunities to the public. The restrictions are necessary for public safety, resource protection, and to ensure that camping opportunities are reasonably available to as many different persons as possible.

Backcountry Camping is permitted at the following designated sites, subject to conditions of a National Park Service backcountry permit.

1. The following backcountry campsites:

  • Homestead Campsite
  • Bluffs Campsite (No Horses or Pack Animals)
  • Raymer Hollow Campsite
  • Three Springs Campsite
  • Turn Hole Bend Campsite
  • McCoy Hollow Campsite
  • Sal Hollow Campsite
  • First Creek Campsite #1
  • First Creek Campsite #2
  • Second Creek Campsite
  • Collie Ridge Campsite
  • White Oak Campsite
  • Ferguson Campsite

2. Islands of the Green River

3. Flood plains within 100’ of the Green River up river of Boardcut Island (River Mile 192).

Exceptions: Dennison Ferry Day Use Area, Sand House Cave, and within 3/4 mile of the ferry crossing.

Group size is limited to 8 persons, and a limit of 10 horses and/or pack animals.
Campfires are permitted in established fire rings.
Camping more than 2 consecutive nights in the same location is prohibited.
Camping more than 14 consecutive nights in the backcountry is prohibited.

Justification: Use of designated campsites concentrates and minimizes the spread of impacts in specific “high-use” areas or at sensitive resource sites with potential for significant impacts.


36 CFR § 2.13 Fires

(a)(1) The lighting or maintaining of fires is generally prohibited, except as provided for in the following designated areas and/or receptacles, and under the conditions noted:

Campfires are permitted in developed campgrounds, backcountry campsites, and picnic areas in provided campfire rings.

Campfires are permitted within the Green and Nolin River Floodplains and on islands, excluding Dennison Ferry Day Use Area, Sand House Cave, and within ¾ miles of the ferry crossing.

The Park may institute fire bans during times when fire danger is high.

Justification: Prohibiting fires outside designated areas reduces potential for wildfire and resource damage


36 CFR § 2.15 Pets

(a)(1) The following structures and/or areas are closed to the possession of pets

(a)(1) The following structures and/or areas are closed to the possession of pets All caves and public buildings. This prohibition shall not apply to service animals. Service animals are defined as dogs and miniature horses that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. (Americans with Disabilities Act guidance on service animals) & 28 CFR 36.104). Prohibitions or restrictions do not apply to:

  • Emergency search and rescue missions; or
  • Law enforcement patrol or bomb dogs; or
  • Qualified service dogs accompanying persons with disabilities per the American Disability Act. (NOTE: Companion/Emotional support animals are not service animals and have no access rights under federal statute except when in relation to PTSD as stipulated in ADA guidelines.)

Justification: Consistent with public health and safety, the protection of natural and cultural resources, and avoidance of conflict among visitor use activities, pets must be restricted. It is recognized that many park visitors have pets and they are permitted where they do not jeopardize basic park values. This does not apply to service animals as covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(a)(3) Pets may be left unattended and tied to an object in the following areas, under the conditions noted:

Tethered with a 6' leash in a campsite for periods of less than one hour.

(a)(5) Pet excrement must be disposed of in accordance with the following conditions:

All excrement must be immediately collected and disposed of in refuse containers. For informational purposes, the park's concessioner has pet kennels.

Justification: Pets have the potential to interfere with the safety of visitors and the natural resource and the enjoyment of others. Reasonable rules are necessary to provide for the well-being of all. Similarly, pets may be endangered by wildlife, cars, or careless tethering if not properly restrained and managed. Particularly in campground and lodging areas, improperly controlled pets can cause conflicts between visitors. Pet excrement would create conditions which would not be in the interest of public health or safety.


36 CFR § 2.16 Horses and Pack Animals

(a) The following animals are designated as pack animals for purposes of transporting equipment.

  • Horses
  • Ponies
  • Mules
  • Burros
  • Donkeys
  • Llamas
  • Alpacas

(b) The use of horses and pack animals is permitted only on the following trails north of the Green River:

  • Sal Hollow Trail
  • Blair Spring Hollow Trail
  • Buffalo Creek Trail
  • Collie Ridge Trail
  • First Creek Trail
  • Maple Springs Trail
  • McCoy Hollow Trail
  • Raymer Hollow Trail
  • Turn Hole Bend Trail
  • Wet Prong Trail
  • Dry Prong Trail
  • White Oak Trail
  • Mill Branch Trail
  • All marked connector trails leading to official backcountry campsites, with the exception of Bluffs campsite and Bluffs Campsite Trail.

Justification: Restricting the use of horses and pack animals to designated trails and campsites will greatly reduce impact to the park’s natural and cultural resources. Trail use designation avoids conflict among visitor use.


(g) Other conditions concerning the use of horses or pack animals:

Party size: At designated backcountry sites where stock are permitted, the number of animals in any one party is limited to one per person plus one stock animal per person, but shall not exceed a total of ten (10) animals.

Stock are hereby restricted from stopping or standing in any streams or springs.

Justification: Stock are restricted from water springs to prevent contamination. Springs do not normally have the water volume necessary to cleanse themselves. Pack animals should be watered with the use of a container.

Horses must be tied to hitch posts at backcountry locations where they are provided. In backcountry campsites or any backcountry areas with no hitch posts, or if these are full, horses must be cross-tied so they cannot chew on or otherwise damage trees or other vegetation. Tying horses and pack animals to trees is prohibited. See Appendix B for hitch post locations.

Hobbling horses and pack animals to permit free grazing is prohibited.

Justification: Securing or tying horses and pack animals to trees or other vegetation often results in the animals grazing on or otherwise damaging the resource.

Cross-tying of horses and pack animals is not permitted within 100 feet from any stream or water source.

Justification: Cross tying horses between trees protects the resource by preventing horses or other stock from gnawing on tree bark, trampling roots, and damaging or killing trees.

Manure scattering: In backcountry areas with hitch posts, any manure shall be scattered no less than 100 feet from any campsite area before departing the area. At Maple Springs Group Campground, all manure shall be moved from hitching areas to a designated collection area.

At trailheads, any manure spilled from the trailering unit and any fresh excrement must be placed in the trailering unit.

Justification: Necessary to prevent the introduction of exotic plant seeds into the park. Manure left at park areas detracts from the enjoyment of park resources.

Informational Only
Coggins test

Kentucky law requires that horses have a negative Coggins test (a simple blood test for Equine Infectious Anemia) within twelve months of a change in ownership or before transport (to shows, trail rides, etc.).

36 CFR § 2.20 Skating, Skateboards, and Similar Devices

The use of roller skates, skateboards, roller skis, coasting vehicles, or similar devices is allowed only in the following areas:

  • Mammoth Cave Campground
  • Park Residence areas, by residents

Justification: The roadways in the Mammoth Cave Campground are low speed areas where the use of such devices should not present a significant safety hazard. The use of these devices in the campground and residential areas do not present a threat to park resources, nor would their use impair the visitor experience.


36 CFR § 2.21 Smoking

Smoking, including e-cigarettes is prohibited within all caves and within 25 ft. of the entrance or exit of all government buildings, facilities, structures, caves, ferry, and canoe ramps.

Justification: This prohibition is necessary to protect park resources, reduce the risk of fire and the risk of conflict among visitor use activities.


36 CFR § 2.22 Property

(a)(2) Items left behind at campsites after registered party has checked out may be impounded by park personnel.


36 CFR § 2.35 Alcoholic Beverages and Controlled Substances

(a)(3)(i) (A) The following public use areas, portions of public use areas and/or public facilities within the park are closed to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and/or to the possession of a bottle, can or other receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage that is open, or has been opened, or whose seal has been broken or the contents of which have been partially removed:

  • All park and concessions operated buildings, including historic churches except:
    • Employee residential areas
    • Concessions operated restaurants, guest rooms, and other meeting areas where the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted by business agreements and concession contracts
    • Special events with the Superintendent’s approval
  • Park caves and all cave tour routes
  • Concession operated cave tour buses
  • Parking lots and trailhead parking areas (excluding Picnic Area and Dennison Ferry Day Use Area)

Justification: These are areas where the public engages in business with the government or is participating in educational or recreational opportunities. Alcohol consumption under these circumstances is inappropriate and would interfere with the public’s enjoyment of the park and its resources. These prohibitions are also necessary to maintain order and provide for the safety of visitors and park employees.

  • While riding a bicycle, e-bike, a horse, or other livestock

Justification: The consumption of alcoholic beverages and the possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages by individuals riding bicycles, e-bikes, horses, or other animals create a safety risk for park visitors.

  • While boating/canoeing/kayaking on the Green and Nolin Rivers

Justification: The consumption of alcoholic beverages by individuals boating/paddling on the water create a safety risk for park visitors. This regulation is consistent with State Law.


36 CFR § 2.51 Public Assemblies and Meetings

(c)(2)The following areas have been designated by the Superintendent as areas authorized for public meetings and assemblies pursuant to a duly authorized permit.

The areas listed below are designated for demonstrations and the sale or distribution of printed matter. These areas may be occupied by groups of 25 or fewer persons without a permit consistent with 36 CFR 2.51 and 2.52. However there are exceptions and, even when not required, a permit is recommended in order to assure space will be available at a particular site.

First Amendment demonstrations or assemblies for individuals or groups of 24 persons and under do not require a permit.

First Amendment demonstrations or assemblies for groups of 25 persons or more will require a free permit for planning and administrative purposes.

  1. Groups of 24 or fewer, the area in front of the Visitor Center between the sidewalk and the east side of the windows, and the area near the bike rack. See Appendix A.
  2. Groups of 25 or more, the grassy area between the parking lot and the bus loop. See Appendix A.

Justification: These areas have been designated pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Register with the intention of providing persons exercising their First Amendment rights with the high potential for “high visibility.”


36 CFR § 2.52 Sale or Distribution of Printed Material

See section 2.51 above regarding the list of designated areas.

Superintendents are authorized by 36 CFR 2.52 to issue special park use permits for the sale or distribution of “printed matter,” which the regulation defines as “message- bearing textual printed material such as books, pamphlets, magazines, and leaflets, provided that it is not solely commercial advertising.” Sales under this regulation whether authorized by a permit or small group exception, are limited to these defined terms.

To ensure that interpretation of the 36 CFR 2.52 accommodates the exercise of First Amendment rights, and that it is uniformly applied, in interpreting and applying the regulation, superintendents will allow the free distribution of message-bearing items to the public other than printed matter, so long as the activity occurs within the areas designated as available for First Amendment activities, and otherwise complies with 36 CFR 2.52.

Examples of message-bearing items that may be distributed for free include CDs, DVDs, and other readable electronic media. Such items must be distributed free of charge, and individuals may not ask or demand payment or request a donation in exchange for the item, which would violate 36 CFR 5.3.


36 CFR 3 Boating and Water Use Activities

3.7 (b) Personal flotation devices (PFDs) must be worn by all occupants ages 12 years and under in a watercraft (examples include boat, canoe, kayak, etc.). For each person onboard watercraft, federal and state law requires a Type I, II, or III PFD.

Justification: The wearing of properly fitted PFDs increases visitor safety while on the water.

3.8 (a)(2) The following areas are designated boat/water craft launches:

  • Dennison’s Ferry (no vehicle ramp)
  • Green River Ferry
  • Houchin Ferry (no vehicle ramp)

36 CFR § 4.12 Traffic Control Devices

The operator of a motor vehicle may pass a bicycle and horse drawn buggies in a no passing zone where operator has determined it is safe to pass.

Justification: Bicycles and horse drawn buggies use park roads along with tour buses and other vehicles. Bicycles and horse drawn buggies move slower than tour buses and other vehicles. Tour bus and other vehicle operators are concerned about passing bicycles and horse drawn buggies in a no passing zone. No passing zones are traffic control devices established by the Superintendent. The regulation allows noncompliance at the Superintendent's direction. Allowing the passing of bicycles and horse drawn buggies in a no passing zone will alleviate traffic congestion along bus and vehicle transportation routes in the park.


36 CFR § 4.21 Speed Limits

(b) The following speed limits have been designated:

  • 35 mph Cedar Sink Road

  • 25 mph Houchin Ferry Road

  • 35 mph Green River Ferry Road

  • 15 mph ¼ mile on north and south sides approaching the Ferry Boat

  • 15 mph Flint Ridge (Intersection of MC Parkway to approximately 200 yards through curves)

  • 25 mph Flint Ridge (Just outside of curves to Park Ridge Road)

  • 25 mph New Entrance Road

  • 35 mph Cave City Road

  • 35 mph Mammoth Cave Parkway (South of Doyel Valley Overlook to Camp Store)

  • 45 mph Mammoth Cave Parkway (Sloan’s Pond to south of Doyel Valley Overlook)

  • 50 mph Mammoth Cave Parkway (I65 to the Brownsville Road Intersection)

  • 50 mph Brownsville Road

36 CFR § 4.30 Bicycles

(b) Administrative Roads

The following administrative roads have been authorized for bicycle and e-bike use.

  • Great Onyx Administrative Road
  • Crystal Cave Administrative Road
  • Union City
  • Three Springs Road

36 CFR § 1.5(a) (2) E-Bikes

The term "e-bike" means a two- or three-wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.).

E-bikes are allowed in Mammoth Cave National Park where traditional bicycles are allowed. E-bikes are prohibited where traditional bicycles are prohibited. Except where use of motor vehicles by the public is allowed, using the electric motor to move an e-bike without pedaling is prohibited.

A person operating an e-bike is subject to the following sections of 36 CFR part 4 that apply to the use of traditional bicycles: sections 4.12, 4.13, 4.20, 4.21, 4.22, 4.23, and 4.30(h) (2)-(5).

Except as specified in this Compendium, the use of an e-bike within Mammoth Cave National Park is governed by State law, which is adopted and made a part of this Compendium. Any violation of State law adopted by this paragraph is prohibited.

Comply with the requirements in 36 CFR 1.5, including the requirement to provide adequate public notice in accordance with 36 CFR 1.7.

Comply with all applicable laws implicated by the compendium action, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The compendium action will ordinarily fall within the categorical exclusion specified in section 3.3.D.3 of the National Park Service NEPA Handbook for which documentation is required.

36 CFR Commercial and Private Operations

§5.3 Engaging in or soliciting any business (Requires a permit, contract, or other written agreement with the United States, or must be pursuant to special regulations).

Contact Superintendent's Office for permit.



Part 7 Regulations

36 CFR §7.36

(a) Fishing

(1) General. Trot and throw lines shall contain hooks which are spaced at least 30 inches apart
(2) Seines
(i) The use of seines is permitted only in the following runs and creeks to catch minnows and crawfish for bait: Bylew, First, Second, Pine, Bill Hollow, Buffalo, Ugly, Cub, Blowing Spring, Floating Mill Branch, Dry Branch, and Mill Branch.
(ii) Seines shall not exceed 4 x 6 feet and the mesh shall not be larger than one-quarter inch.
(3) Live bait.
(i) Worms are the only form of live bait which may be used in the Sloan’s Crossing Pond (also known as Beaver Pond), Green Pond, Doyle Pond, and First Creek Lake. Live minnows and worms may be used in all other waters.

(b) Cave Entry

(1) Except for those portions of the caves open to the general public, no person shall enter any cave within the boundaries of the park without first obtaining a permit from the Superintendent. Permits will be issued to persons who are qualified and experienced in cave exploration, who possess the needed equipment for safe entry and travel, and who are engaged in scientific research projects which in the opinion of the Superintendent are compatible with the purpose of which the park was established.
(2) Persons on guided cave tours must stay on the established designated trails and remain with the guides and tour group at all times. Exploration of side passages, going ahead of the lead guide and tour group or dropping behind the following guide or tour group is prohibited.
(3) Persons on “self-guided” or “semi-guided” cave tours must stay in the established, designated trails at all times. Exploration of side passages or taking alternate routes is prohibited.

(c) Bicycles

(1) The following trails are designated as routes open to bicycle use:
(i) Connector Trail from the Big Hollow Trailhead to the Maple Springs Trailhead;
(ii) Big Hollow Trail;
(iii) Mammoth Cave Bike and Hike

(2) The following are prohibited:
(i) Possessing a bicycle on routes or trails not designated as open to bicycle use;
(ii) Unless posted otherwise, operating a bicycle in excess of 15 miles per hours on designated routes; and
(iii) Failing to yield the right of way to horses or hikers.

(3) The Superintendent may open or close designated bicycle routes, or portions thereof, or impose conditions or restrictions for bicycle use after taking into consideration public health and safety, natural and cultural resource protection, and other management activities and objectives.
(i) The Superintendent will provide public notice of all such actions through one or more of the methods listed in §1.7 of this chapter.
(ii) Violating a closure, condition, or restriction is prohibited.

(d) E-Bikes

(1) The following trails are open to 3-wheeled e-bikes
(i) Connector Trail from the Big Hollow Trailhead to the Maple Springs Trailhead; and
(ii) Mammoth Cave Bike and Hike

(2) The following are prohibited:
(i) Possessing an e-bike on routes or trails not designated as open to bicycle use;
(ii) Unless posted otherwise, operating a bicycle in excess of 15 miles per hours on designated routes; and
(iii) Failing to yield the right of way to horses or hikers.

(2) The Superintendent may open or close designated bicycle routes, or portions thereof, or impose conditions or restrictions for bicycle use after taking into consideration public health and safety, natural and cultural resource protection, and other management activities and objectives.
(i) The Superintendent will provide public notice of all such actions through one or more of the methods listed in §1.7 of this chapter.
(ii) Violating a closure, condition, or restriction is prohibited



A map showing the free speech areas near the visitor center


Map of Hitching Post Locations in the park


In accordance with National Park Service Law Enforcement Reference Manual RM-9, the public is to be notified when parks monitor security cameras through CCTV. Mammoth Cave National Park uses CCTV for the purpose of monitoring security cameras to “help ensure public safety and security; facilitate the detection, investigation, prevention and deterrence of terrorist attack and crime; help ensure the safety of citizens and officers; help assist in the proper allocation and deployment of law enforcement and public safety resources; help facilitate the protection of the innocent and the apprehension and prosecution of criminals” (RM-9, 26.1). Furthermore, the cameras will be used “only…to visually monitor public park areas and public activities where no constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy exists” (RM-9, 26.1).

The following excerpt from RM-9, Chapter 26 orders that parks who have such programs allow for public notifications, specifically:

3.6 CCTV Public Notice and Comments

All parks using CCTV shall display a copy of the CCTV policy as part of their compendium and park website. The National Park Service encourages public comments regarding its CCTV policy and procedures contained in this policy, which we will periodically reexamine and which is a matter of public record and discussion. Appropriate government officials and the Solicitor’s Office must first review any suggested substantive revisions by the Park Service. Any public comments should be directed to the National Park Service’s Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection.

Please contact the Park’s Chief Ranger should you wish to comment about Mammoth Cave National Park’s usage of CCTV camera monitoring. You can contact the park by calling 270-758-2121 or emailing

Last updated: June 3, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259-0007


270 758-2180

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