American Fork Canyon is one of our favorite places in Utah. Every corner is breathtakingly beautiful and you’re sure to get some awesome views no matter where you go. One of our favorite places to visit up American Fork Canyon are the Timpanogos Caves National Monument.
To get to the caves, you have to hike a 1 ½ mile paved trail. The hike starts at the Timpanogos Cave National Monument Visitor Center. You can purchase tour tickets here (although they suggest buying tickets ahead of time here). The visitor center also has clean bathrooms, a snack bar, and shaded picnic tables.
Utah, now you’re just showing off.
The views on this hike are some of the best there are but there are other awesome aspects of this hike too.
If you hike it in the morning, the mountain shades most of the hike making is a pleasant summer option.
This hike also provides a lot of variety. One stretch of the path is filled with evergreens and then you turn the corner and it feels like you are on a totally different path with impressive rock as your scenery.
And even flowers growing out of rocks.
The kids also loved all the tunnels. There were about three or four of them along the way.
When you get to the top, there is nice shaded tunnel with benches to sit in and relax while you wait for your tour to begin.
Tours are 55 minutes long and are limited to 16 people per tour. They are offered daily throughout the summer season and are led by park rangers. Our ranger was so great at including the kids in the tour. He let them pick what we talked about, hold the flashlight and even led the group sometimes. They felt pretty special.
The temperature inside the caves average 45 degrees so they suggest bringing a sweater or light jacket. We brought sweaters for our kids but figured packing ours up the trail wouldn’t be worth it. We felt like we made the right choice. After hiking three kids up a mountain in the middle of summer, 45 degrees felt pretty nice.
I won’t ruin the whole tour for you, but here are some pictures. Just so you can get excited!
I’ve been on a few cave tours in my lifetime and I would say this is the best I’ve seen. For the most part, the caves are spacious (Hi, I have claustrophobia) and the paths were easy to walk on. Our almost three year old walked through the whole cave by herself.
This hike/cave tour was one of the highlights of our summer and we hope you’ll take a visit!
Thanks Brittney! Here's some other posts Brittney has written for us!
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Hike Length: Strenuous 1 1/2-mile-paved trail, which rises 1,092 ft to an elevation of 6,730 feet above sea level. The round-trip hike and tour of the cave system takes about three hours.
To get to the Timpanogos Caves Visitor Center (where the hike begins) you enter through the US Forest Service information station at the base of the American Fork canyon. If you are just going to visit the caves, you are not required to pay the US Forest Service American Fork Canyon fee.
The hike and caves are not handicap accessible.
The trail isn’t difficult, but it could be dangerous if you’re kids are prone to wonder off. There is a cliff on one side of the trail the whole way up. You turn corners often and there is a cliff on every corner. I wouldn’t consider myself a paranoid mom by any means, but we held our kids hands the whole way up (the oldest is 5).
There are bathrooms at the beginning of the trail and very old bathrooms near the top of the trail. Insist that your child use those because there isn’t the usual “walk off the trail” option that most hikes have. We learned this lesson the hard way and our little girl peed her pants on the way down.
From I-15: If you are arriving from the north or south on Interstate 15 take Exit 284 (Alpine-Highland exit), then turn east on State Highway 92 and proceed ten miles (16km) to the monument.
From U.S. 40 or U.S. 189: If you are arriving from Heber City or Provo Canyon traveling on U.S. 40 or U.S. 189, take State Highway 92, passing by Sundance Resort and over the mountainous scenic route known as the Alpine Scenic Loop. Because of the narrow and winding road, buses and large vehicles over thirty feet are not allowed to travel on the Alpine Scenic Loop. The Alpine Scenic Loop is closed during winter. This route is scenic but takes considerably more time and is not recommended if you are on a tight schedule. An alternate way is to travel U.S. 189 through Provo Canyon, turning west onto Orem 800 North (UT 52), then after 2.4 miles turn right onto State Street (Hwy 89). After 3.8 miles, turn onto Pleasant Grove 100 East (UT 146). Stay on this road for almost five miles, as it turns in Canyon Rd and takes you to the mouth of American Fork Canyon. When the road ends, turn right into the canyon (UT92) and drive up the canyon to the visitor center.
Using a GPS is not always accurate, as it sometimes directs through the Scenic Loop, which takes longer.