With the end of the summer tourist season, the Fort Clatsop Explorer Shuttle will shut down for the year.

Beginning Tuesday, visitors to Fort Clatsop National Memorial will once again be able to use the parking lot at the park itself.

The parking lot was closed this summer as the park, in partnership with Sunset Empire Transportation District, launched the new shuttle service, which carried visitors from sites around Clatsop and Pacific counties to the park's new "front door" at Netul Landing parking area. From there, visitors boarded shuttles that carried them into the park.

The system was put in place in conjunction with a reserved-ticket system to keep crowds from overwhelming the small park and its limited number of parking spaces.

The 2004 summer season was intended as something of a test run for the system for next year, when even bigger crowds are anticipated with the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.

Fort Clatsop Superintendent Chip Jenkins said the shuttle-and-ticket system, believed to be the only one of its kind at any national park facility, has been the focus of researchers from the U.S. Department of Transportation, who are analyzing data collected over the summer that includes input from visitors and staff from Fort Clatsop, the transportation district and other groups.

Once that information is processed, the analysts will share it with the park service for use in preparing the shuttle system for the 2005 season, Jenkins said.

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