Timpanogos Cave National Monument is located on the steep, rocky slopes of American Fork Canyon in Utah’s Wasatch Mountain Range, just south of Salt Lake City. It sits in the shadow of Mt. Timpanogos, the second-highest mountain in Utah. The cave system consists of three caves: Hansen Cave, Middle Cave, and Timpanogos Cave. The small chambers and passageways that make up the beautiful caverns display exquisite crystal formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and helictites.
Highlights of the cave formations include the Great Heart, a giant formation of linked stalactites, as well as the Chimes Chamber, where there is a profusion of bizarre, brilliant white helictites. Helictites are among the most puzzling of cave features. In most caves, helictites occur in only small numbers, or not at all. In Timpanogos Cave, thousands of helictites occur. They twist and turn unpredictably in all directions, defying gravity. Usually less than a ¼ inch in diameter and only a few inches long, they are as delicate, and fragile, as hand-blown glass. It is the tremendous number of helictites in Timpanogos Cave that makes Timpanogos Cave National Monument so special.
In 1922, at the urgings of Utah citizens and the U.S. Forest Service, President Warren G. Harding issued a proclamation establishing Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Since that time, the caves have been officially recognized as natural features of national significance and extraordinary scenic and scientific value.
If You Go
Getting to the caves for a tour is not easy. Visitors must travel a 1.5-mile, hard-surfaced trail to the caves, but are given at least 1.5 hours to do so. The trail can be physically demanding, but it is also rewarding, with various stopping points along the way, which overlook American Fork Canyon. The tour inside the caves lasts approximately one hour and is a half-mile in length.
During the summer, tours usually sell out by early afternoon. In order to protect the delicate features in the caves, each tour has a 20-person limit. Make sure to get to the caves early or buy tickets in advance.
There are special cave tours, including candlelight, historic, and flashlight tours. There are also guided nature walks along the trail to the caves and of the caves themselves. Special tours are usually limited to 10 persons and reservations are required. Contact the park directly to make your plans.