Mammoth Cave National Park is making plans for the future in hopes of better serving the roughly half-a-million yearly visitors to the natural attraction in south central Kentucky.
The park has made a number of improvements within the past year, including a renovation of the lodge, upgrades to concession areas, a new pedestrian bridge, and a new handicap-accessible trail. The national park has also installed solar panels to power charging stations for electric cars in the visitor parking lot.
Park Superintendent Barclay Trimble spoke to members of the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday. In addition to the improvements already made, he said the park is working on a cave management plan that will guide how the attraction operates in future decades.
"Can we open new passages? What kind of research? Where and how do we allow research," Trimble stated. "What do we do with visitors? We're looking at tour sizes. Do we decrease the tour sizes, leave them the way they are, or increase tour sizes?"
Future projects will include cottage upgrades and improved access to the Green River Ferry which closed for more than a month last year due to low water levels. To help fund the projects and increased operating costs, the price of cave tours will increase starting this summer, and a new fee will be added for backcountry and river camping. Mammoth Cave National Park last increased fees in 2015.
According to the National Park Service, Mammoth Cave National Park generates $68 million dollars for the regional economy and has 764 employees. The attraction hosted 572,000 visitors in 2017 for cave tours, hiking, camping, and other recreation. Fifty-five thousand school age children were served last year through environmental education.