A local hotspot closed for months is almost ready to reopen.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the Maquoketa caves should reopen on August 24th.
But there’s still been plenty of activity on those trails; crews are making thousands of dollars in improvements.
Local 4’s Tahera Rahman got an exclusive sneak peek into what you can expect to see when the park reopens next month.
“Usually I’m out educating, talking to people in the park, registering campers,” says Maquoketa Caves State Park Ranger Scott Dykstra.
But his daily routine is a little different this summer.
“This summer with it being closed, the whole list has changed,” he says.
The park has been closed this season, but the trails are still being trodden.
Two major upgrades are in the works.
“We tore up the road through the park and put in a new road which is going to be a concrete road and we’re also adding a sidewalk,” says Dykstra.
Dykstra says crews are also improving the campground.
“We increased our electricity from 30 and 20 amp– We upped it to 50, 30 and 20 amp to accommodate the newer campers.”
Dykstra decided to undertake several smaller projects, too, before more than 300,000 people come back to walk the paths.
That includes building new bridges and cleaning out flood debris from caves.
“New lights in Dance Hall Cave, we remodeled the shower building, new signage throughout the park,” Dykstra adds.
All in all, park visitors will see more than $600,000 in upgrades and increased safety.
“The boards were getting rotten they needed to be replaced. And then the road– Now we have sidewalks for people to walk on and not walk down the side of the road or middle of the road while we still have traffic coming through,” Dykstra says.
Dykstra says it will all be worth the wait.
“Hopefully from here on out we shouldn’t have to close the park for any other projects. We might close a section of the area where we’re working on but we should never have to close the park down for a long time to come.”