Tours of Soudan Underground Mine State Park near Tower are scheduled to resume on May 26, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today. The tours were suspended last season after a March 2011 fire in the mine shaft damaged wood timbers near the mine entrance.
“Cleanup and repair of the mine shaft is now complete, so we are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to full access at the park,” said Park Manager Jim Essig. “Visitors were disappointed that they couldn’t visit the underground portion of the mine last summer, so we expect to see more than our normal 34,000 visitors this year.”
Three different tours will be available at the park for the 2012 season, which runs daily from May 26 through Sept. 30, and weekends in October until Oct. 21. The underground mine tour, high energy physics lab tour (operated by the University of Minnesota), and the free, self-guided surface tour will be available.
Guided tours depart on the hour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the cost is $12 adults, $7 for children age 5 – 12, and free for children under age 5. Required hard hats are provided for underground tours. Visitors are encouraged to check the park website for suggested footwear and clothing, and for other important details.
The park is home to a large population of bats that are frequently monitored for White Nose Bat Syndrome. White nose syndrome is a fungus that is killing bat populations in 17 eastern states and three Canadian provinces. It has not yet been found in Minnesota.
As a special precaution to protect the bat population, the DNR asks visitors to disinfect any clothing or equipment that may have come in contact with contaminated mines or caves prior to their visit to the park.
More information about the park is available online.