Timpanogos Cave National Monument protects three caves and a small area of land nearby. Tour the incredible caves to see the formations. The steep trail is popular with locals for fitness, but in order to tour the cave you must purchase tickets. Screenshot your ticket QR code since service is unavailable at the base of the trail. It is $12 for adults, $7 for children, and $6 for seniors and those with disabilities. If you are flexible in your schedule you shouldn’t have to plan more than a few days ahead, but premium slots fill fast. If you haven’t been recently, I recommend the spectacular Timpanogos Cave tour.
Begin at the visitor’s center. If you didn’t screenshot your tickets, they will print off scannable tickets for you. You can also learn about the cave at the Visitor’s Center. Masks are currently required inside the visitor’s center.
The trail to get to the caves is difficult. It is paved, but with constant incline for 3.1 miles round trip. There are benches to rest, but bring plenty of water and plan for 60-90 minutes to reach the cave, an hour for the tour, and an hour to get back down to the parking lot. The details of the trail are in this post. Here are a few photos of the beautiful, but persistently steep trail.
Here at the very top of the strenuous hike is where you will show your tickets to the rangers to join a tour.
The cave tours are limited to 14 guests. Cameras are allowed, but tripods and monopods are not, so some of my photos are a bit blurry in the low light. Also, during this time of Covid, masks are mandatory in the caves. Luckily they are not required on the path, since it’s strenuous enough to want lots of oxygen. The caves are indoors in close quarters, so the masks are required for them to stay open. To enter the caves you will first enter this big wooden door. Once you enter the caves, they ask you not to touch anything, since the oils in your skin can ruin the formations.
The first section of the tour is through Hansen’s Cave. Martin Hansen first discovered the cave in 1887. Some parts of Hansen’s Cave were mined and carted away. Do you see the missing stalactites from the top of the cave?
The next section is Middle Cave and was discovered by George Heber Hansen and Wayne Hansen, Martin Hansen’s son and grandson together. This section has a lake. This time of year it’s low, but in the spring they sometimes have to pump it out before they can begin tours. Stalactites grow down from the top of the cave and stalagmites grow up from the cave floor. They are both created as water seeps through the rock carrying mineral deposits.
There are stairs and quite a bit of walking and maneuvering through the cave. I was wearing a little hiking pack on my back barely bigger than a camelback, but I had to squat down pretty low to not risk scraping it on the low hanging stalactites as we toured.
Flowstone is when water flows along the walls of the cave. It creates “waterfalls” of mineral deposits.
There are lots of cool formations as you walk through the caves. The largest cave is Timpanogos Cave.
Timpanogos Cave was discovered in 1913, by two fourteen year old boys James W. Gough and Frank Johnson. They had been with a group at Hansen’s Cave and started exploring nearby. They discovered the opening to the new cave. Later on there was a landslide that covered the entrance.
A few of the formations have names, like the “Heart of Timpanogos” in the center of the first photo.
Vearl Manwill had heard rumors about the cave and in 1921 he and a group of fellow hikers were looking for it. He rediscovered the cave and he and his friends decided to protect the cave. They lobbied to have it protected and in 1922 President Harding designated it a National Monument. I’m glad that it was protected so we can enjoy it and others can continue to explore it for years to come.
You come out a different exit that is 0.3 miles from the entrance of the cave.
Continue along until you rejoin the main path. Meanwhile, enjoy the beauty!
This is an amazing tour!
Stats: Distance – 3.1 miles roundtrip
Approximate hiking time – 3-4 hours
Elevation gain – 1505 feet
Difficulty – Difficult
Trail – paved
Bathrooms – Yes (top and bottom)
Seasons to hike – May – October
Permits needed – $6 day pass or National Parks Pass (plus ticket needed to enter cave $6-12/person)
Pets allowed – No