Kentucky : Safety by City
- Bowling Green
- Cave City
- Cumberland Falls
- Harlan Tri-Cities
- La Grange
- St. Matthews
Cave City, Kentucky, and nearby Mammoth Cave National Park were born in natural events and became popular due to a tragedy that made national headlines.
The cave system is so large nobody quite knows where it starts, where it ends, or what river it feeds.
You have a variety of cave depths to explore and water adventures above ground.
Incredible hiking with dynamic views winds through 80 miles of trails.
Here you can ride a horse, a bike, boat or explore on your own two feet.
If spending too much time outdoors feels daunting, why not explore the Dinosaur Museum?
You can also enjoy the magic of the caverns at the Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum.
In a region with so many caves, it’s hard to imagine there was once a battle between business owners trying to find the best cave for tourists.
The Kentucky Cave Wars made it to the courtroom several times, with battles over property lines, naming rights, and cave access points.
In 1925, a cave catastrophe made headlines as one of the best-known cave explorers became trapped while exploring a newfound cave.
Floyd Collins was wedged in a tight space when a boulder fell on his ankle.
He was entombed in rock, and the harder he fought to get out, the deeper he was wedged in the tight space.
The rescue efforts made national headlines, with one journalist even going into the cave to interview Floyd.
A carnival-like atmosphere took over and required the National Guard to come in and disperse the crowds, some days as large as 10,000 people.
18 days later, rescuers finally reached Floyd, but they were too late.
He had died from lack of food and water, in addition to exposure to the elements.
It was that tragic story that gave Mammoth Cave national recognition and solidified a place in American tourism history.
Warnings & Dangers in Cave City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here. While the city's population is small, the number of visitors that come through makes it even safer, considering there were just four violent crimes in 2020. Theft rates are incredibly low as well. While there are dangers in any cave, all possible safety steps have been taken for tourists, and we'll talk through some smart safety practices as we go along.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You won't find a public bus system here, and taxis or rideshares will be hard to find. Some of the tours offer shuttles, but you'll need a vehicle of your own here. There's low risk with any option, but you honestly don't have a lot of options.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with no pickpockets or purse snatching reported in Cave City in the past few years. You shouldn't let your guard down and never carry valuables with you, but it's not a place where you need to be worried about your stuff getting stolen.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You'll have a medium risk here throughout the year because Kentucky weather can be wild. There's always going to be a concern about the flooding of the caves, and severe weather can dominate the headlines from spring through early winter. Winter storms can leave several inches of snow or ice, making any travel dangerous.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, as the one robbery in 2020 was in a private home. You just don't really need to worry about violent crime in Cave City. You should still practice good safety steps to protect your belongings.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's low risk because it's not a hard target, and there are just not enough people that a terror group would spend their time here. This is also a remote region, so you won't be close to a large city that might be a more valuable target.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The scams that do happen here are generally tourists going after businesses. As a tourist, you don't need to worry about scams, but never buy tickets or rent homes through third-party websites. Buy directly from the vendor to ensure you get what you paid for.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
In 2020, only one of the four violent crime victims was female. This is a safe place for females to visit, but they must have a good sense of outdoor safety. It's also wise for a woman or a man not to travel throughout this region alone in case you need help.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The tap water provided by the Glasgow Water Company meets or exceeds all standards and has no violations, according to the 2022 Water Quality Report. In addition, this water company has received numerous accolades over the years.
Safest Places to Visit in Cave City
Yogi Bear really is smarter than the “ave-er-a-ge” bear because he has a whole series of theme parks, and one of them is in Cave City.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Mammoth Cave is a resort of cabins, campgrounds, and RV spots.
There are a host of activities for guests, and visitors can pay to get into some of the attractions, including the interactive pool.
You can sluice for gems, jump on massive pillows, take a hayride or ride mini-carts.
Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum has lions and tigers, and bears (oh my!), but there are plenty of other unique creatures on display in this unique zoo.
The park officials tell me you can safely get closer to the animals than in a regular zoo.
However, the animals are stuffed.
There are more than 1,600 animals in 14,000 square feet of space.
Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo has interactive exhibits and live animals.
You can even cuddle up to a kangaroo!
From dingoes to emus to live sheep herding demonstrations, you’ll be an animal expert by the time you leave.
There are seven shows throughout the day.
Dinosaur World is a pre-historical park with a lot of modern activities.
You can walk among large and small sculptures of dinosaurs, several playgrounds, and a mining area that is safe for the whole family.
Dogs are welcome too!
You can even bring in your own cooler and snacks, but there’s food available inside.
Still want to see MORE animals?
Dutch County Safari Park is another option.
Here you can get off your feet and take a safari ride through the different animal areas.
Various exhibits allow the animals to be held or fed.
Hidden River Cave is just up the road in the city of Horse Cave.
You can choose various levels of tours, from a self-guided tour of the museum to an off-trail adventure.
The story of how this cave went from a stench-filled abyss that was off limits to hosting thousands of visitors a year is worth the trip itself.
There’s an underground suspension bridge inside, too, named the largest swinging suspension bridge in the world.
The sunset dome is an amazing moment to take in the magnitude of the world below us.
Jesse James Riding Stables and Outlaw Cave are two great attractions in one spot.
Above ground, take an hour-long horseback ride, or choose a tour underground, where you’ll hear tales of outlaws who once hid in these winding and narrow passageways.
These are all outside of Mammoth Cave National Park.
One of the benefits of Mammoth Cave is that it’s open year-round, whereas some of the other attractions might only be open seasonally.
Here there are a slew of activities to choose from, including kayaking, fishing, hiking, cave tours, stargazing, and an above-ground tour that explains what is happening just “below your feet.”
You can also explore Barren River State Park and Nolin Lake State Park.
There are so many outdoor options here, all with park rangers and/or a tour guide to safely take you through the activities or answer any questions you have.
There are at least eight caves in this region with regularly scheduled tours, and each one brings a little something different to the experience.
Check out cavecity.com to choose your favorite caves.
This area is also ripe with antique shops, with many choices between Cave City, Horse Cave, and other nearby cities.
During the fall, there are several haunted house attractions that open.
J.B. Haunted Mansion is kid-friendly.
Places to Avoid in Cave City
As far as crime goes, you don’t have to worry about a bad part of town.
The city is safe to visit and explore.
You should still lock your vehicle whenever you park and roll up the windows at all times.
Don’t leave personal belongings in plain sight inside the vehicle.
The cave where Floyd Collins perished is called Sand Cave.
There is a short trail with a boardwalk that tells the story of the doomed adventurer, but you cannot get into Sand Cave.
Avoid trying to get into this cave or any cave entrance that isn’t part of a tourist attraction.
Avoid swimming in the rivers of this region.
The current is too swift and could easily carry you away, even if you are just wading in the water.
No designated swimming areas exist on the rivers, and no lifeguards are looking out for people in need of help.
One more thing – when you are doing research, be sure you are looking at Mammoth Cave National Park, not Mammoth Mountain in California.
The two locations are 2,100 miles away.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Cave City
- You can call Cave City Police toll-free if you want to ask safety questions of your own. That number is 877-773-2188. There is also a place on the website to send an email.
- Check out the travel warnings and alerts on the Mammoth Cave National Park website. The listed alerts are right on the top of the page with specific details. Concerns might be flooding, downed trees, or caves closed for various reasons.
- The Green River Ferry takes cars across the water to get travelers to different kayaking spots. If you are kayaking in this area, don’t get within 200 feet of the ferry if you are in the water or in a kayak. The movement of the ferry can suck a kayak under in seconds.
- Check the river levels before you fish, boat, or kayak on any body of water. It can take a few days after heavy rain for the water to reach its peak.
- You can check the status of the Green River Ferry at any time by calling the hotline at (270) 758-2166. While it’s open almost every day of the year, weather and mechanical difficulties could cause delays or cancellations.
- If you are on the water, you need a lifevest. That goes for a boat or a kayak. You can’t just have it with you. You must wear it and have it safely secured to your body.
- For those who are new to kayaking, take it easy the first few times you go on the water. It’s better to feel unchallenged than risk a dangerous situation with the water current. Try to avoid going kayaking alone. If you do, follow another group of kayakers for safety.
- Stargazers can park at the visitors center and use the nearby fields for viewing the night skies. This is a great way to avoid a dangerous night hike. Bring a flashlight with a red filter, as that will help you see better in the dark and avoid bright lights in the eyes of other tourists. Check the park’s website for ranger-led stargazing tours.
- Once you are in a cave, the temperatures are around 55°(F) throughout the year. That holds true whether it’s freezing weather or excessive heat outside. Plan your clothing appropriately. Be sure to check the difficulty of caves as well. Some require crouching, crawling, or scrambling, while others are completely accessible to everyone, including those in wheelchairs.
- There is a disease that impacts bats called White-nose Syndrome. This is why bio-security mats are on the cave floor, and you cannot wander off these mats. Wait, you did know there were bats in the caves, right? You might be asked to go through decontamination of your clothing before you tour different caves. It’s critical you follow these instructions because the spread of White-nose syndrome has led to some caves in the country being off limits to humans.
So... How Safe Is Cave City Really?
Cave City thrives from tourism, so everyone who works and lives there has an interest in keeping the community safe.
There are also many things to do here, so everyone stays busy and (hopefully) avoids trouble.
You also have local police, county deputies, and park law enforcement looking out for you.
There are going to be inherent dangers in wilderness areas like this.
Every effort is made to keep the cave tours as safe as possible, but roughhousing or running in the cave can quickly turn into a sprained ankle.
You should review all the clothing requirements for caves because you won’t get in wearing flip-flops or sandals.
You should use caution when hiking.
Many of the trails are easy to moderate but know the difficulty level before you go.
You will also have difficulty getting a signal on your mobile device.
Be sure to download any tickets on your device *before you go underground.
When visiting the animal attractions here, only touch or feed animals with the tour guide’s permission.
Don’t harass or haze any of the animals.
That goes for those you might see in nature as well.
Drive the speed limit and stop for turtles crossing the road.
How Does Cave City Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. Travel or Work Visa to visit Kentucky. You should schedule an interview with the embassy in your city because some of the offices have been backed up for the better part of a year. Once you get through Customs at the airport, you don't need your Visa until your return trip.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and many of the attractions and tours have tickets that can be purchased online. The cave tours can book up months in advance, so book tickets as early as possible.
- Weather - The weather varies throughout the year, but you'll want comfortable outdoor clothing with a jacket for cave tours, even in the summer. You'll need sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support. Break your boots in before you visit so you don't end up with blisters.
- Airports - Cave City is halfway between Nashville and Louisville, so you can get to either airport in 90 minutes or less.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance and make sure you are protected from any accidents that might occur on your adventures. Most tours will have you sign a liability waiver, and rescues from the woods can be very costly.
Cave City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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