Edmonson Voice Staff Report:
The Grand Avenue and Wild Cave Tours at Mammoth Cave National Park will be temporarily closed, and the Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour will be limited to weekends only during the first phase of a cave trail rehabilitation project which begins mobilization Monday, November 18th. The trail work will improve the walking path, stairs, handrails, seating, and resource issues along approximately two miles of cave trail that runs from the Snowball Room to the Grand Central Station, according to a press release fro the park. The entire project is scheduled to take 18-20 months to complete, but the remainder of the cave tours in the park will be open to visitors as usual.
“The trail that the Grand Avenue and Wild Cave tours follow is a popular tour route that over 150,000 of our visitors travel through each year,” said Chief of Facilities, Steve Kovar. “It is a route which has been around for over a century with most of the existing trail having been constructed in the late 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The work we are planning for this section of cave will be a great improvement in protecting our important cave resources and creating a better tour experience for our visitors.”
The cave trail rehabilitation project will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will set the construction staging area in the Snowball Room, which is in close proximity to the only elevator that services the cave and provides visitor access for the Accessible tour. The contractor will utilize the elevator and coordinate the project equipment from this room for approximately twelve months before beginning phase two of the project. They will then relocate the staging area to the Frozen Niagara Entrance of the cave.
During phase two, the Domes and Dripstones and Frozen Niagara tours will be closed in addition to the Grand Avenue tour, but the Wild Cave and Accessible tours will reopen for normal visitation as the main construction work will no longer affect the access for these tour routes.
“We realize that this is a major project that will impact a handful of our cave tours,” said Superintendent Barclay Trimble. “We have scheduled much of the work to occur over our slower winter season, and have been working with our contractor to allow access to the Frozen Niagara section of cave for as long as possible. Mammoth Cave National Park is lucky because we have a very big and diverse cave with several other tour route options. We are also surrounded by many private show caves and recreational attractions in our neighboring communities which provide tour routes and wild cave tour experiences. Even with the trail rehabilitation, there is still plenty for visitors to South Central Kentucky to do and enjoy when they vacation here.”
For the most up to date information on Mammoth Cave’s tour schedule please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/maca.