Thursday, June 20, 2019

Everything you need to know about the iconic Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Everything you need to know about the iconic Timpanogos Cave National Monument blog cover image

Timpanogos Cave National Monument is a must-see for avid hikers and adventure junkies. This trail-and-cave combo holds rich historical significance and is sure to be a memorable experience for everyone. Its history extends all the way back to the Gold Rush prospecting era, even though the cave was not discovered until much later. The paved hiking trail is perfect for adventurers of all ages. It boasts beautiful views of the Mt. Timpanogos valley, and the fact that only parts of it have guard rails gives the whole experience a slightly more dangerous vibe. The constant incline of the trail provides a great workout, while the cave at the top serves as a great opportunity to cool off. Some locals use the trail as their morning workout, and they love seeing their little slice of heaven enjoyed by people from all over the world. Don’t miss out on your chance to hike in one of the most beautiful areas of the country and see one of the best-preserved caves in the world.

cave interior lit up at night

The History

Timpanogos Cave was discovered by accident in the summer of 1913. Two teenage boys, who were on a tour of a nearby popular cave, left their group to go exploring on their own. After traipsing around in the Utah wilderness, they noticed an odd-looking rock. When they tried to dig it out of the sand, the rock tumbled backward into a black hole that seemingly came out of nowhere. This hole would eventually become Timpanogos Cave! The boys kept it a secret for eight years. During that time, the newly discovered cave was only a rumor, and the boys never returned to it again. In 1921, curiosity got the best of an adventure addict named Vearl Manwill. He was determined to find out if the rumors were true. Ironically, Vearl re-discovered Timpanogos Cave the same exact way the boys did eight years ago: by attempting to dig a rock out of the sand, only for it to tumble back into a dark opening. Ever since, the contents of Timpanogos Cave have been preserved, and over 80,000 hikers tour the cave yearly.

cave features lit up and glowing

Hitting the Trail!

Now for the exciting part… Before you tighten your hiking boots and start pounding the pavement, be sure that you reserve your tickets in advance. The cost is $8 for adults 16 and over, $6 for children ages 6-15 years old, $4 for children 3-5 years old, and free for any child under 3! The day of your hike, you can pick your tickets up from the Visitor’s Center, which is where the trail begins and ends. The trail is paved asphalt, but it is a constant incline all the way up to the cave entrance, so it is not for the faint of heart. The whole hike is approximately 3 miles and takes about 3 or 4 hours to complete, including the cave tour. Something important to keep in mind about the hike is that parts of the trail are exposed to the valley. Basically, keep a close eye on children and stay away from the edge of the trail: the drop-off is steep, and a few people have died from accidental falls. Along the way, there are plenty of areas to take breaks, drink water, and enjoy the beautiful views.

tour guide talking to a group of hikers inside the cave

The Cave Tour

The cave tour can host up to only 16 people at a time, due to the confined space. The entrance to the cave is at the end of the trail. There are plenty of lockers for you to stow backpacks, water bottles, or any other personal belongings that you’d like to leave behind. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your backpack behind, the tour guides recommend that you simply wear your backpack in front of you. The cave can get pretty narrow at spots, so bring only the essentials. There are also bathrooms outside the cave entrance, so you’re not caught in between a rock and a hard place if you have to go. Also, the tour guides suggest wearing a headlamp, but it isn’t necessary; both the front and back guide wear headlamps, so there is plenty of light. During the tour, be sure that you don’t touch the walls of the cave. This ensures that the natural beauty is preserved, and tours can continue for as long as possible. Wear a sweater, too! Temperatures in the cave can dip to 40 degrees.

How to Get There

Timpanogos Cave is located in northern Utah, about half an hour southeast of Salt Lake City. If you’re tech-savvy, use your favorite maps app to find your way to the Visitor’s Center. If you prefer to get places the old-fashioned way, take note of which direction you are coming from. If you’re coming from Salt Lake City, take I-15 south. Take exit 284 for Highland/Alpine. When you get off the exit, turn left onto UT-92 East, also known as Timpanogos Highway. Stay on this road for 12.5 miles. You’ll reach a ranger station where you will need to buy a 3-day pass, which is only $6. After purchasing your pass, continue straight for 2.3 miles, and the parking lot will be on your right.

On the other hand, if you are coming from the south, take I-15 north. Take Exit 275 for Pleasant Grove Blvd and turn right as soon as you get off the highway. When you reach the first stoplight, turn left onto 2000 W/N County Blvd, and stay on this road for 5.5 miles. The name of this road changes a few times along the way, so don’t be alarmed, just continue straight. Turn right onto UT-92 North and follow it for 6 miles. This is where you’ll reach the fee station and continue straight to the parking lot.

It’s easy to see that the Timpanogos Cave provides unforgettable experiences for people of all ages. Whether you’re young or old, or you enjoy beautiful views rather than dangerous risks, there is something for everyone. If you arrive prepared, your experience as a whole will be satisfying. You’ll get breathtaking views, an invigorating hike, and an exciting cave tour. Some important things to remember that seem like random tidbits of information are as follows: Reserve your tickets before you leave. You can reserve your tickets by visiting the Timpanogos Cave website.

Only bring the essentials with you: water, a sweatshirt, and a camera if you’d like to capture the views you’ll see along the way.

Be prepared for parts of the trail that are exposed to the valley. Tell any children coming with you to stay away from the edge of the path.

Lastly, have fun! The Timpanogos Cave is a memorable experience. Enjoy every bit of it.