The Timpanogos Cave tour was something that was on must see list from last year when we were here but we ran out of time due to the cave not opening until early summer and closing by mid-September. We got here in Provo in April and got our tickets for the cave tour soon after that since it books up quick. Our best advice if you are planning to do this is to get tickets early. Don’t wait until the day of to wait in line to see if tickets might be available, just plan ahead and it will be a lot more fun.
Our tour time was for 8:45 A.M. so we got there right on time. Tickets needed to be printed in advance at the office, which we didn’t know, so we waited in line for about 20 minutes to get that done. Apparently, we went on this tour the weekend of National Get Outdoors Day so all National Parks were free, which meant that the park was extra busy that day. Good planning on our part, lol. We have an annual National Park pass but the cave tour was extra.
The way they set up the tours is actually really smart. After you get your tickets printed, they tell you what time your cave tour will be. So, the 8:45 time was really what time we needed to get to get to the visitor center by, not the actually time we needed to get to the trail. They gave us a cave tour time of 10:30 so that gave us over an hour to hike up the trail.
To get to the cave, one must hike up 1.5 miles. The National Park service says that trail is strenuous but Brad and I thought it was more moderate. There were some stepper parts but overall it wasn’t too bad (easier then the Y hike). We had two people before the hike warn us that the trail is steep and jets off and people have been known to fall off the trail due to not paying attention. Once we were on the trail and experienced it we understood what they meant. As long as you pay attention and aren’t running up (or down) the trail, you will be fine. Just be smart.
We got to the cave 40 minutes before our tour and we were lucky because the group tour that was going at 10:00 had two open spots so Brad and I were able to go early. The cave tour was an hour long and our group had 15 people, which is the max amount of people per tour. The tour has three cave sections that we explored and each section was so different and unique. It’s hard to describe what we saw because it’s so different. We saw cave bacon, which looks exactly like bacon; cave popcorn, which looks like popcorn popped all over the walls and ceiling; and long thin tubes called speleothems. There was this film over parts of the cave and it looked like someone sneezed, lol. It was actually the start of the speleothems and we saw one that was about a ½ inch long and it took over 75 years for that to grow!! The colors of the cave changed too, sometimes it was brown, purple, or even green!
The reason this cave is a National Monument is because it’s home to helictites, which are delicate and fragile formations that curve, twist, and make really awesome designs. Most caves have a just a few and this cave has hundreds, only two other caves in the world have more, making this cave a National Monument. The really interesting fact is that to this day, no one knows how helictites grow. Maybe one day someone will be able to figure it out but for now, it remains a mystery.
The tour is lit up as best as it can be with lights along the way. During one part of the tour they turn off all the lights and we experienced total and complete darkness. A cave is one of the three places one can experience total darkness, can you guess the other two? I’ll give you a clue: water and not on Earth. The really weird part is that when we were in total darkness we were told to put our hand in front of our face. We all said that we could see our hand but that in fact that was false, we couldn’t really see our hand because it was too dark. What happened is our brain knows that we should be able to see our hand so it tricks our eyes to think that we really can see it. The wonders of the brain!
If you are ever in the area, go on this tour. It’s something totally different and worth the few dollars. The Park Services does a great job on the tour and our ranger was nice, very informative, and she told us to take as many photos as we wanted, which you know I love!
Till next time! Happy trails!