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​​​The 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.

Conservation of these species is of high priority. Our staff, along with partners, are actively working to monitor the aquatic species and to provide theLeaurio ortmanni (Kentucky Creekshell) 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 sightseei​ng. 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.



Access Type: Open to Public
County: Edmonson
Region: Green River Region
Size: River mile 181.7 to 207.7
Owner: Mammoth Cave National Park
Purchased with Assistance of:
Lat: 37.1496
Long: -86.2957
Image of Terrapin Creek

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