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Heart of Timpanogos

Timpanogos Cave
National Monument

American Fork Canyon
Wasatch Mountains

Hiking & Spelunking

          Timpanogos Cave is located high on the steep rocky slopes of American Fork Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains. The cave is actually made up of three moderate-sized limestone caves: Hansen Cave, Middle Cave, and Timpanogos Cave. These stunning caves are decorated with a brilliant display of helictites and anthodites in a variety of whimsical shapes.

          You will not be disappointed in this short half day adventure. Take your time, admire the craggy scenery and enjoy the hike to the entrance to this stunning cave.

General Information:
          Timpanogos Cave National Monument has two picnic areas on the banks of the American Fork River and a Visitors Center. Tickets must be purchased online or at the trailhead to visit the cave as part of a ranger guided tour. Tour groups consist of a maximum of 20 per group. The trail to the cave begins at the Visitors Center and follows a 1 1/2 mile long paved route that gains 1065 feet in elevation. The actual tour through the cave takes 40 minutes. The complete round trip will require approximately 3 hours. The cave is open mid-May to mid-October, weather permitting.

          The Visitor Center is open daily, during the cave tour season, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Visitor Center winter hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. everyday except Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and the visitor center closes early on December 24.

          Waiting space at the cave entrance is limited, visitors are given a suggested time at which to start the hike to the cave. On busy days all tickets may be sold out by noon and online ticket purchase is recommended. My suggestion is to arrive early and enjoy the hike in the cool morning when crowds are trivial.

          Temperatures inside the caves are about 45 Fahrenheit so a light jacket or sweatshirt is advised. The trail to the cave is paved but good walking shoes are prudent. Bring plenty of drinking water and a snack as none is available on the trail or at the cave. For safety reasons pets and wheeled vehicles (baby strollers & wheelchairs) are not allowed on the cave trail. A restroom is located at the Visitor Center and near the cave entrance, go while you have the opportunity.


Cave Tour Fees
(current as of 2018)

Adult - (age 16 and older) - $8
Junior - (6-15) - $6
Child (3-5) - $4
Infant (0-2) - Free

          Buy your tickets online to guarantee your tour time. Please note, the time you buy is the time to begin your hike.

American Fork Canyon Fee
(Current as of 2018)

$6 - 3 Days
$12.00 - 14 Days
$45.00 - Annual

          Entrance into American Fork Canyon is necessary to reach Timpanogos Cave National Monument. America The Beautiful Pass is honored for entrance into the canyon.


Amazing formations around every corner Serria inside Timpanogos Cave

Trailhead Information:
          Timpanogos Cave National Monument is located off I-15 at the Alpine/Highland exit (exit #287). Exit the Interstate and follow State Road 92 for 10 miles as it heads towards the Wasatch Mountains and climbs up American Fork Canyon to the Timpanogos Cave National Monument Visitors Center. The trail to the cave begins at the Visitors Center.

          There is a fee station located at the mouth of American Fork Canyon that charges a fee per vehicle to visit the canyon. This fee is in addition to the ticket price of visiting the cave.

So fragile, so beautiful Looks like chocolate

Advanced Caving Tour:
          A more in-depth tour called the "Introduction to Caving Tour" is also available and introduces visitors to the sport of spelunking and caving ethics. Although it is not a wild caving experience, the tour does require bending, crawling, and passage through tight spaces. This tour takes 90 minutes and is not the standard tourist route through the cave. The tour is limited to five people, age 14 and older and costs $16 (as of 2018).

Martin Hansen          Over 100 years ago no one knew that there were caves hidden in American Fork Canyon. Then, on a fall day in 1887, 40-year-old Martin Hansen, a Mormon settler from American Fork, Utah, accidentally discovered the first cave. Hansen was cutting timber high on the canyon's south slopes when, according to one popular version of the story, he came across the tracks of a mountain lion. Following the tracks to a high ledge, he found an opening in the rock - the entrance to the small cave that would be named after him. Hansen did not enter the cave that day, but he returned to later explore. To allow others to get a firsthand look at the cave, Hansen and others hacked out a rough and hazardous trail straight up the mountainside. By all accounts, the first visitors found the cave exceptionally decorated with colorful deposits of flowstone and other formations. Within only a few years, however, souvenir hunters and miners had stripped the cave almost bare, selling much of their stolen treasures to museums and universities and to commercial enterprises who made decorative objects from the cave deposits.

          Not until 1915 was a second cave discovered. That summer a group of families from Lehi, Utah, came to American Fork Canyon for a day's outing. While the rest of the group explored Hansen Cave, teenagers James W. Gough and Frank Johnson climbed around the rocky slope outside. By chance, they stumbled across a hole not far from the entrance to Hansen Cave. It was the entrance to Timpanogos Cave. Many persons explored the cave, seeing its exquisite formations, including the Great Heart of Timpanogos, but for some reason knowledge of the cave and its whereabouts faded. Then on August 14, 1921, Timpanogos Cave was rediscovered. An outdoor club from Payson, Utah, had come to American Fork Canyon to see Hansen Cave and investigate rumors of a second cave. It was Vearl J. Manwill, a member of the club, who confirmed the rumors by rediscovering the Timpanogos Cave.

          That very night, "...by the light of campfire, [we] discussed our find," Manwill wrote, "and talked about ways and means to preserve its beauty for posterity instead of allowing it to be vandalized as Hansen's Cave had been." The people around that fire dedicated themselves to the cave's preservation.

          The excitement of rediscovering the natural wonders of Timpanogos Cave had not yet died when a third cave - Middle Cave - was found that fall. George Heber Hansen and Wayne E. Hansen, son and grandson of Martin Hansen, were in American Fork Canyon hunting deer. As they looked through binoculars at the south slope of the canyon from the opposite side they spotted an opening near the other two cave entrances. Within days they returned to this new cave - Middle Cave - with a large exploring party equipped with ropes, flashlights, and candles. In the party was pioneer cave-finder Martin Hansen, by then 74 years old.

          The hopes of all those who sought to protect and preserve the caves of American Fork Canyon were realized a year after Timpanogos and Middle Caves were discovered. In 1922, at the urgings of Utah citizens, the US Forest Service, and others, 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.

Lot's of fun Spectacular scenery so enjoy the hike

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