1922: National Monument
About the SiteThree beautiful caves are found here, high above the stream in American Fork Canyon. A 1.5 mile hike up the mountainside from the visitors center leads to three linked caves: Hansen Cave, Middle Cave, and Timpanogos CAve. These exquisitely beautiful caverns are decorated with a dazzling display of anthodites and helictites in a variety of fantastic shapes. A Ranger-led tour takes no more than 20 visitors at a time through these wonders; the entire trip covers 3.5 miles, an elevation gain of over a thousand feet, and requires about three hours.
What You're Going to SeeThe guided tour last about an hour over a 0.5 mile trail on a surfaced, lighted, and fairly level route. You pass from cave to cave through tunnels built in the 1930's. The caves' small chambers are packed with extraordinary features. stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, flowstone, and the helictites for which these caves are renowned are just some of the impressive sights.
The 1.5-mile hike to the cave entrance climbs 1,092 feet, so take your time and enjoy the views of American Fok Canyon, the Wasatch Range, and Utah Valley. Wildflowers grow on the wooded slopes of Douglas fir, white fir, maple, and oak. Chipmunks, lizards, and birds may be spotted.
Personal ObservationsI, ah, haven't made the hike yet. I didn't have time during the family reunion that brought me to Utah this summer. But I can report on the visitors center: it's adequate. American Fork Canyon doesn't allow a lot of room for an expansive building, but it does have Rangers, and books for sale, and of course a stamp for your Passport.
The drive up the canyon is rewarding just by itself. Go, see, experience!
Getting ThereFrom Salt Lake City or Provo, take I-15 to exit 287, north of American Fork. Go east on that road, 11000 North, a.k.a. Highway 92, into American Fork Canyon. The Monument is about 9 miles from the freeway exit. The visitors center is on your right.
Nearby AttractionsGold Spike NHS is about 90 miles northwest. Salt Lake City is about 25 miles to the north. Brigham Young University is ten miles to the south. There are plenty of attractions, parks, streams and canyons and drives in the immediate area.
Visited July, 2004.