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Despite Fewer Options, Cave Tour Attendance is Up at Mammoth Cave National Park

Emil Moffatt

Mammoth Cave National Park is overcoming federal budget cuts to register some of the strongest summer attendance in recent memory.

The park's public information officer, Vickie Carson, says four cave tours were not offered this summer because of cuts related to the federal sequestration. But that didn't stop cave tour numbers from increasing one-to-two percent this year over the same time in 2012.

"If we continue at this rate through the end of the year, we'll probably be at 405,000 visitors through the cave this year. That would be a high point for at least the last ten years," Carson told WKU Public Radio.

Carson says with gas prices still well above $3 a gallon, Mammoth Cave has remained an attractive day trip option for those within close driving range.

The park's number one cave tour draw is the Historic Tour.

"It's a two-mile tour through the cave, through many of the most famous parts of the cave," says Carson. "It's the one the most school kids go on, and that many families come back to see time and time again."

Carson says the New Entrance Tour is the second most popular, and features a 300-step climb down into Mammoth Cave.

Park officials are proposing a $1 to $2 fee increase on cave tours starting in 2014. In a news release issued by the park, Superintendent Sarah Craighead said Mammoth Cave is currently "charging the same for cave tours as we did in 2007. The cost of doing business has gone up."

The park is asking for public input on the fee increase. You can find out more and leave comments here

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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