MAMMOTH CAVE, KY.— Mammoth Cave National Park is expanding alcohol sales after noting that the number of overnight visitors increased since sales were first allowed last year at its onsite hotel.
Concessions manager Greg Davis told the Daily News that the National Park Service granted him permission to sell packaged wine and beer at the Caver’s Camp Store. Davis says he’s had several requests from visitors over the years for the change.
“Our business traditionally has been 70 percent from Northern states,” Davis said. “(Beer and wine are) no big deal for those people, it’s something they expect when they walk into the store to find wine and beer. It was almost a shock to them that it was not available.”
Until last year, when the Mammoth Cave Hotel began serving beer and wine, Davis said Mammoth Cave was the only national park that didn’t sell alcohol on its premises.
He said the change came after local communities surrounding the national park began opening to alcohol sales.
Visitors to the park used to travel to Bowling Green for alcohol, but in recent years voters in closer cities such as Glasgow and Leitchfield have approved some alcohol sales.
When Cave City became moist in 2005, Davis said it had an impact at Mammoth Cave.
“We were losing overnight visitors to Cave City,” Davis said. “When we saw the effort locally in different towns like Leitchfield and Glasgow, we started thinking that we need to do the same thing.”
Davis said the process to get packaged beer and wine sales at Mammoth Cave Hotel and Caver’s Camp Store didn’t start moving forward until early last year, after voters in Edmonson County approved wine sales at Cave Valley Winery in Park Mammoth Resort, which is less than 10 miles from the national park.
“Once they began to sell it, that is when we petitioned the park service,” Davis said. “We thought it would be appropriate for us in order to maintain our guests overnight at the park to sell wine and beer.”
Davis said he hopes the expanded sales at the park will bring more visitors who will stay longer.