Green River is a major drainage of the Ohio River and is almost entirely
contained within Kentucky, except for its southern headwaters. The river is considered one of the most
biologically diverse systems in the world and the portion of the Green River
that occurs within Mammoth Cave National Park (MCNP) is designated as a Wild
River. This section of river flows
through karst landscape and the mineral rich limestone contributes to the river’s
green hue and offers habitat for many unique and rare plants and animals including Leaurio ortmanni (Kentucky Creekshell), a rare mussel endemic to the Green River (pictured below). It is one of the best locations in Kentucky
to view bald eagles and contains the only known location in Kentucky for a rare
plant species in the pea family. The
aquatic life within the river and the connected cave system is incredible and diverse,
with numerous rare and unique species of fish, freshwater mussels and snails,
crayfish, and shrimp that are found nowhere else in the world.
of these species is of high priority. Our staff, along with partners, are actively working
to monitor the aquatic species and to provide the most
current information to resource managers. In 2017, lock and dam #6 near the western edge of MCNP was removed
following a breach, which caused a serious safety concern to the public. The removal of the dam is considered a triumph
for public safety as well as for the aquatic life. Approximately
10 miles of river was returned back to free flowing conditions which will provide a more
natural setting for recreational purposes, as well
as returning habitat back for the aquatic species. The preliminary report of the ecological monitoring
can be found here (PDF 3.80 MB).
The River offers many recreation opportunities including boating, camping, picnicking, canoeing, fishing, dispersed hiking, and sightseeing. For more information about recreation and permits visit Mammoth Cave Plan Your Visit. See our Wild Rivers program page for information on what it means to be a Kentucky Wild River.
There are many access points for paddling, fishing, boating, and canoe camping along the Green River. Please see Mammoth Cave's Backcountry Guide map for more information.