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Green River/Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky

Trip Overview

I have a family of five, my wife, three sons and myself. My sons are nine, seven, and four. We also have a little Shiatsu (dog).

I have a sixteen foot Ole Town guide canoe and two Ole Town Little Otter kayaks. The older boys operate the kayaks and the dog, four year old, mom and I operate the canoe.

The Green river section that we ran was entirely in the Mammoth Cave National Park located just north of Bowling Green Ky. The river runs generally east to west with the first half being the narrower, shallower and faster half. The second half makes you feel like youre on a lake. Both halves are very beautiful with a cave that you can paddle into which is really awesome and the boys just loved it which is located just after the put in on the south side of the river.

We arrived at the shuttle service around eight thirty in the morning on a Sunday. Because we have all our own equipment we just needed someone to drop us off and take our truck down to the pull out site. This cost me forty dollars which at the time I thought was a little high but after it was all done I was really happy with the service. They kept my truck at their house which is right across the street from their business which is located just outside the park boundary on HWY 70. It was really nice to not play the car shuttle game and drive for an hour to go get the other car and then come back link up and then drive home. This is a big time saver.

We put in at Dennison ferry where there is really not a ferry, but instead a very steep canoe ramp that leads down cement stairs to the water. One person could put by him or herself but it would be a pain in the butt, plus you risk banging up your boat. Our plan was to paddle ten of the twenty miles on the first day, find a camping site and finish the rest the next day and that almost what we did.

My boys are not experienced at all but they navigated the water with ease. There are only a few places where the river gets shallow and the water speeds up a little at a bend like normal and this is only on the first half of the trip. We had 680lbs of people and equipment in the canoe, which is rated for 950lbs, and never bottom out.

We ended up going fifteen miles the first day of the twenty mile trip which only left us a short trip the following day which is good because by then like I said earlier it was like being on a lake with no current. In fact the second half of the route is where my boys were getting a little tired and bored. We played find the animal games and found that staying as close to the shore, the shady side, was the funniest way to travel the slow section. We kept it slow and were never in a hurry as we did not have any real time schedule to keep so we were able to control how tired everybody was.

The river as it flows through Mammoth Cave Park has mile markers located on the north side of the river which make it easy to follow your progress on the map that you can pick up at the visitor center which is a very useful map. Dennison Ferry (put in site) is located just below mile marker 205, and I wanted to at least get to marker 195 before finding a camping site. We ended up going all the way to marker 191 before finding something that everybody was happy with. We found a nice little spot on the west end of one of the Islands covered in sand and plenty of flat spots to put the tent. We had a fire, the kids swam and I fished; it was great. We left the next morning at about noon, and made it to the take out site by four thirty. It was a wonderful trip.

The two things that were very critical in being able to enjoy this trip being that is was the first time going down it and I took the whole family, was using the shuttle service and getting the map to follow along with the river.


We had to get a backcountry permit which cost us nothing.


Best thing to do is go the Mammoth Cave Park and plan your trip. They are very easy to get a hold on the phone.
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip