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Fri Apr 28 00:00:00 MDT 2000

Lewis & Clark Caverns, Montana's first state park, opens for the 2000 season May 1, according to Lee Flath, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' Lewis & Clark Caverns park manager. Located in the rugged Jefferson River Canyon, Lewis & Clark Caverns features spectacular caves lined with stalactites, stalagmites, columns and helictites. The Caverns are electrically lighted.

The park, open seven days a week, offers two-hour guided tours of the Caverns beginning at 9 a.m., with the last tour of the day leaving the visitor center at 4:30 p.m.

"As usual, we remind people that the temperature in the Caverns is 48 degrees year round," Flath said. "When spring in Montana hits, it's easy to forget that a visit to the Lewis & Clark Caverns calls for a jacket or sweater even on the warmest day." Other reminders include comfortable walking shoes and to be prepared for the physical exertion of a two-mile walk through the caverns.

Facilities at the park include 40 camping sites, with flush toilets and showers, and three cabins. The cabins, which rent for $39 per night, can be reserved by calling the Caverns Visitor Center at 406-287-3541. During summer hours, beginning June 15, tours begin at 9 a.m. with the last tour leaving the visitor center at 6:30 p.m.