• A water drop clings onto the edge of a orange stalactite, surrounded by white stalactites.

    Timpanogos Cave

    National Monument Utah

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  • Caves closed for the season

    Timpanogos Cave National Monument caves, cave trail, and visitor center are closed for the season. Caves are scheduled to open again mid-May 2015.

James W. Gough and Frank Johnson

Black and white portait of James W. Gough.

Portrait of James W. Gough.


During the summer of 1913, a group came to visit Hansen Cave that included fourteen-year-old boys James W. Gough and Frank Johnson. While the group explored Hansen Cave, the two boys became bored and left the cave to examine the ledges outside the cave. Due to the steepness of the cliffs, they soon realized they could not climb back the way they had come, and scouted around for another route back to Hansen Cave.

Gough noticed a rock with mineralization on it and having seen similar looking rocks in mines, he and Johnson began to dig around the rock. They thought it might indicate the existence of precious metals, but as they dug, the rock fell into a dark hole where they could see daylight coming in from another opening. Moving toward the light, they worked at clearing away the debris around a large boulder that fell into the void that was the entrance to Timpanogos Cave. The boys explored the cave until they reached a deep pit.

Unable to cross the pit, they returned to Hansen Cave, informed their group of what they had discovered and the entire group explored the new cave. A log was brought in from the surface to enable everyone to cross the deep pit, and asthey explored the group neared "The Heart of Timpanogos" that day. They resolved to come back later, and in two weeks with rope, string and carbide lanterns in tow, traveled as far as "Father Time's Jewel Box." As time passed, a landslide occurred in the area and the entrance to Timpanogos Cave was lost.

Black and white portrait of Frank Johnson.
Portrait of Frank Johnson.

Did You Know?

frost cave formation

Frostwork, like it's name depicts, resembles hoarfrost growing outside on a foggy winter day. Most frostwork found in Timpanogos Cave is formed from aragonite, an unstable form of calcium carbonate. The delicate nature of these tiny crystals makes them particularly susceptible to damage and vandalism.