AMERICAN FORK Not even huge snowdrifts can stop the scheduled opening of Timpanogos Cave National Monument.
The remaining snow from a wetter-than-normal winter threatened the park's scheduled spring opening. But park Superintendent Denis Davis says 824 hours of work by employees and 300 hours of labor by volunteers are making it possible for the cave to open Saturday.
"It has been a harrowing experience this spring trying to figure if we could open up on time," Davis said. "Really, the thing that made it happen was the volunteer work we got. They supplied over a third of our effort to get it done, and it was really incredible."
Davis, who has been the superintendent for over a year now, said that the drifts have been amazing and that if it were not for the community support, the park would not be opening this weekend.
He also said that the park has not had a challenge like this in over 20 years.
"Most of the long-term employees said that the biggest snowpack like this was in the early 1980s," Davis said.
The monument will be open seven days a week, with tour times beginning at 7 a.m. Tickets for the last tour of the day must be purchased by 4:30 p.m. Tours will continue throughout the summer and into early fall.
Davis said park officials have developed a few new programs for this summer and maintained a number of their popular programs from years past.
The Ranger Evening" series will begin May 23 at the visitors center. Due to the popularity of the program, it has been expanded to include Sunday nights this summer.
The topics will include the history of American Fork Canyon, fishing in the canyon and birds of prey in Utah. The programs will be offered on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m.
The park will also continue the "Junior Ranger" program for children starting May 24, and the "Introduction to Caving" tours will be offered every day except Wednesdays. Reservations are required for most of these programs.
With plenty of snow at the cave exit and some drifts by the cave entrance, visitors who make it to the cave early will get to see some things they don't normally see during the summer."It will be an extra bonus for people that get up there in the next couple weeks," said Davis. "There are places where the snowdrift is 12 feet high and the trail is going right through the snow there."