We went to Mammoth Cave National Park last year for a few days, spent canoeing one of those days. We remembered how nice it was. This year, we bought our own canoe and decided to take it down there for an overnight trip. This happened to be my first camping trip ever, let alone an overnight canoe trip. I figure if you're going to do it, do it. This was actually a little trip to celebrate our 7th anniversary. I remember thinking that with all of the camping gear we were buying, it could have easily paid for a very nice hotel room for the night.
We left our Indianapolis home at about 6:00 am EST on Saturday, Sept. 20. We arrived at Mammoth Cave Canoe & Kayak around 8:30 CST (half hour after they opened, perfect timing). We took the overnight trip from Denissons Ferry to Houchins Ferry. The outfitter dropped us off at Dennisons and promised to drive our truck down to Houchins, so that we could just float to our truck. That happened to be very convenient for us.
Launching at Dennisons was pretty tricky. You have to put your boat on very steep launch ramps. Make sure you unpack your boat when doing this! Once we were in the water, it was fine. We had practiced loading our canoe in our living room the week before and it paid off. Our canoe was loaded down, but stable. I forgot to mention that we launched with a troop of boyscouts. On the van ride to the launch site the two scouts beside me were having an in depth discussion about bigfoot. I wasn't too worried though, because we had two bags of Jack Link's beef jerky.
The river was very low and slow, but we only had to get out and drag our boat once. We paddled about 13 miles the first day, stopping by 5 pm, and set up camp on Boardcut Island. We gathered quite a bit of fire wood and proceeded to roast hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner. We headed to the tent around 10 pm. I was exhausted and almost asleep when my husband says "did you hear that?" I say, "quit messin' around" until I hear whatever it is rubbing against my side of the tent (out of husband's reach). Couldn't really get to sleep after that. Morning eventually came (our air mattress had deflated in the mean time) and we cooked bacon, eggs, and coffee over the campfire. We packed up after breakfast and paddled the remaining 7 miles.
The river has virtually NO current, it's almost like paddling on a lake. Fishing was decent, my husband caught a very large bass and I caught a smaller bass. We saw some very large fish that weren't biting. I think they were carp. It's nice that you don't need a fishing license in Mammoth Cave Park. There are at least 3 small caves to explore on this stretch and the scenery and wildlife is wonderful. We saw deer, turkeys, raccoons, and lots of nice birds and ducks. I really enjoyed this trip and look forward to warmer weather to do it again!
Camping allowed on banks of river with a free backcountry camping permit. Additional camp grounds in Mammoth Cave National Park.
Mad River Adventure 14 Canoe
Backcountry camping permit is free.
We paid $65 for shuttle service at Mammoth Cave Canoe & Kayak. Great people to work with!
Mammoth Cave National Park, near Cave City, KY.
This map was very useful printed out on a 8.5 x 11 and laminated
- Trip Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)