Mammoth Cave National Park is open again, now that the government shutdown is over. Park staff jumped back into gear as soon as federal officials gave the OK.
Park spokesperson Molly Schroer said the Green River Ferry was back in service as of 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 and cave tours began on Sunday, Jan. 27.
Schroer said initially, notification emails were sent out to ticket holders, and online reservations left open for spring and summer visitors, with alerts that the lapse in federal funding could affect cave tours. But she said that changed while volunteers from Friends of Mammoth Cave were staffing an information table at the park during the shutdown.
“We did receive notice from one of our volunteers that a group had showed up that had recently bought cave tour tickets," said Schroer. "So we immediately shut the reservation system down for everyone, and it has reopened, now that we’ve reopened.”
Schroer said the staff had a detailed 'to do' list in order to reopen the popular Kentucky park. She said one of the first priorities was getting payroll activated for park employees.
“We're going through to make sure all the cave lights are working, that the doors are operational, the gates are operational, that our computer systems are up and running," said Schroer. "Our maintenance employees have been very busy going around looking at park buildings, to make sure no issues have come up while we were shut down.”
Schroer said volunteers from Friends of Mammoth Cave staffed an information table in front of the visitors center during part of the shutdown and greeted approximately 700 visitors during a period of about two weeks.