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Sam Penrod, Deseret News
The new visitor center at Timpanogos Cave National Monument in American Fork Canyon is pictured on Thursday, May 23, 2019. The cave will reopen to visitors June 19.

AMERICAN FORK — Mud, and a lot of it, is making it difficult to finish a new parking lot for the Timpanogos Cave Visitor Center.

But the progress of this project, which began in the fall, is very visible.

Crews tore down the old center and have already moved a section of the highway to better accommodate more visitors to the cave.

“We’ve got a rock fence that will protect both the building and people, and then we’ve moved the highway so nobody will be crossing the road as part of their visit to the cave,” said Cami McKinney, with Timpanogos Cave National Monument.

Work on the new building is right on schedule.

“Our building is so close to being completed, and we’re really excited about showing it off to people and having this new… safer building for visitors and staff,” she added.

Because of the construction, not only is the cave closed, but the mile-plus long trail is also closed, even for fitness hikers.

However, the National Park Service announced Thursday the cave will open for the season on Wednesday, June 19.

Rangers said the increasing number of visitors in recent years will require planning ahead to visit the cave.

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“We’re kind of getting to the point where cave tour tickets are not a thing you could just wake up in the morning and go — you need to make a plan, so make sure you get your reservations before you get here,” McKinney said.

Cave tours, which are 55 minutes long and limited to 16 people at a time, can now be reserved up to 30 days in advance at recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Cost is $12 for those 12 and older; $7 for those 2 to 11; and $2 for newborns to 1-year-olds.

The only access to the cave system is by walking a strenuous 1 1/2-mile-paved trail, which rises 1,092 feet to an elevation of 6,730 feet above sea level. The round-trip hike and tour of the cave system takes about three hours.