Our family of five visited Mammoth Cave in August of this year,2000. We chose to take the Violet City Lantern Tour because of the historic significance. The first tourists of this cave had to use lanterns to tour the cave.
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On this excursion your group meets for instructions and the lanterns are passed out. Not everyone gets to carry a lantern, they have to be spaced throughout the group.
The first part of the tour has electric lighting. But after that you fully rely on the lanterns [and the guides flashlights used to show points of interest] for light. The tour is three hours and three miles long. The temperature is about 55 degrees so dress accordingly.
There are age and health restrictions associated with this tour, and reservations are a must. You must arrive at least thirty minutes early to get your tickets or they will be sold. I think it was well worth the extra effort to view this part of Mammoth Cave.
One other thing I would like to point out is that while driving through the park we were able to view several deer.