Mammoth Cave Courses

Most Karst Field Studies courses are headquartered at Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning at Hamilton Valley located just outside of Mammoth Cave National Park. Course participants may choose to stay in the Hamilton Valley facility bunk houses or camp on the research center grounds. The cost for camping or staying in a bunk house is $12 per day. Space will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Hamilton Valley facility has 10 bunkrooms that hold 4 bunks each. The main building has restrooms, showers, and wireless internet. A full kitchen is also available for cooking. You must supply your own food. Basic kitchen utensils, pots and pans, and appliances are available for use. Internet is available in the main living area of the facility (access is not available in bunk rooms).

Accommodations are also available at local motels in either Cave City or at Park-Mammoth Resort in Park City, Kentucky. Participants wishing to stay in Cave City or Park City must make their own reservations. Please fill out the accommodation request form even if you are planning on making your own arrangements. View the form.

Driving Directions to Hamilton Valley

Grand Canyon Course

Lodging for the Grand Canyon course will be paid separate from registration costs. Details on lodging will be shared with students in the course. Lodging will be at a field station (similar to lodging provided at Hamilton Valley Field Station near Mammoth Cave), so fees will be nominal.

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Equipment and Supply List

Many of the courses offered through the Karst Field Studies Program have a significant in-cave component. Therefore, in order to be well-prepared and safe for the underground environment you may need the following items. Please note: if additional equipment and/or materials are required for a specific course, this information will be provided on each individual course page as the course start date grows closer.

  • Helmet (for caving trips) with non-elastic chin strap, a quick release buckle, and three or four point mounting. The helmet should stay on during a fall but be easily released if it should become wedged. The helmet will also be the mounting point for your primary light source, so any accommodation for attaching a headlamp is a plus.
  • Two (2) lights that can be helmet mounted. REI or other outdoor outfitters carry suitable lights for caving. LED light are the best choice. Bring extra batteries.
  • Flashlight with extra batteries and extra bulb (e.g., mini-mag lite or any LED flashlight).
  • Sturdy boots with non-skid soles and some ankle support (comfortable, hiking type, NOT tennis shoes).
  • Caving coveralls are ideal, but a suitable alternative is rugged clothing that can withstand outdoor activity. These include comfortable pants or jeans that you can afford to get dirty. To keep you warm in the 56° F, almost 100% humidity, underground environment you'll need to dress in layers. Its strongly advised that you have a thermal layer top (polypro or equivalent - NO COTTON) and a bottom. If you are not using coveralls, then a long sleeve shirt is strongly recommended. You will be underground most days so be prepared with some clean changes of clothes. There will not be enough time to do laundry every day (don't forget large plastic bags for wet, muddy clothes and gear).
  • Gloves (garden type is ok, to protect hands and for gripping).
  • Knee pads (These are very helpful in protecting your knees). Basketball or other athletic-type knee pads are good.
  • Elbow pads.
  • Small to moderate size day-pack to hold batteries, jacket, food, water, notebook, etc. A large backpack will be too bulky for narrow or low cave passages.
  • Water Bottle
  • Snack foods suitable for long underground hiking trips- such as granola-type bars, small cans of fruit, dried fruit, trail mixes, beef or other jerky - similar to what you would take on a long day hike on the surface.

A printable checklist is available by clicking here

All necessary decon supplies (cleaner, brushes, etc.) will be provided through the KFS program.

Suggested Whitenoise Decon Guidelines can be found here

Other items that you may need for hiking and staying at the Hamilton Valley facility:

  • Rain Gear (prepare layers of clothing for severe weather, umbrella, rain jacket, etc).
  • Food (if you are staying at the Hamilton Valley facility, which has a fully equipped kitchen, showers, and restrooms).
  • Bedding (if staying at HV-sleeping bag or sheet or blanket, pillow). Hamilton Valley has 10 rooms with 4 bunks each.
  • Toiletries and Towels (If staying at HV-Towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc).
  • Bug spray to repel both ticks and mosquitoes.

Caving Vendors

The following is a list of vendors that carry equipment especially for caving: