When we think of Utah’s land formations, we generally think of the giant red sandstone arches, pinnacles, fins, and tafoni; however, there’s an equally impressive range of formations below ground as well. Utah’s many caves offer spectacular sights and adventure for those willing to venture into their depths. Here are a few of the fantastic caves you can find in Utah.
Timpanogos Caves consist of three caves: Hansen Cave, Middle Cave, and Timpanogos Cave, all found high on the craggy slopes of American Fork Canyon. The caves sport elaborate helictites and anthodites as well as a variety of other colorful formations.
Entrance to Timpanogos Caves requires a guided tour and a steep 1.5 mile uphill hike, which takes around 90 minutes. The trail to the cave is paved, but the rising elevation and summer temperatures (up to 100 degrees F) can make it strenuous. The overall time required for the tour is 3.5 hours.
Mammoth Cave Utah
In Dixie National Forest, just 7.5 miles east of Duck Creek, you can find Mammoth Cave, one of the largest lava tubes to be found in Utah. It measures .25 miles in length. The cave is said to have formed nearly 2,000 years ago by cooling water and lava. This cave consists of four chambers. It is vital to ensure you have proper footwear as the lava rock can tear up regular shoes. You will need adequate flashlights since the cave is pitch black. Before entering the cave, it is essential to ensure there are no rainstorms in the area. The cave is prone to flooding during storms. The cave is generally open from May through October.
The Bloomington Cave is located on the east side of the Beaver Dam Mountains 15 miles west of St. George. As a tectonic cave, Bloomington Cave offers a maze of passages through six distinct levels. At 1.43 miles in length, it is the fifth-longest cave in Utah. Though the cave is currently unrated for difficulty, it is not considered a good choice for beginners. Exploration of the cave involves tight passages and places where you may need to crawl or climb over slippery surfaces. You must have a permit (which is free) to enter the cave, which can be obtained from the St. George Field Office.
These caves are just a few of the fascinating underworld formations below Utah’s majestic surface. It is important to note that many of Utah’s caves are not publicly listed or accessible due to potential dangers to those who may enter and due to a desire to conserve the natural state of said caves. Some caves are closed during certain times of the year to preserve the natural hibernation habitat of bats and ensure they are not disturbed. If you plan to visit multiple caves, it is wise to wear different clothes for each to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome in bats. You can learn more about white-nose syndrome on the USGS White Nose Response Team website.