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

    Timpanogos Cave

    National Monument Utah

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • Cave tour tickets

    When you purchase your tickets on recreation.gov, the time options listed will be for your hike time, which is the time you should pick up your tickets at the visitor center. Plan on 3-4 hours from that time, round trip.

Trees and Shrubs

Big Tooth Maple leaf

Big Tooth Maple leaf during the fall

(© 2002 Brandon Kowallis)

Trees

A tree is a plant that has one woody stem in a form of a trunk. Trees provide humans with many things including: building materials, fuel, sap, food such as fruit and nuts, rubber, alcohol, and pulp for paper. They also benefit other organisms by slowing down runoff by holding or absorbing water, providing shelter for animals and plants, reducing the devastating effects of flooding, protecting the world’s climate by absorbing carbon dioxide (too much contributes to the greenhouse effect), and beautifying scenery.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument has many wonderful trees that provide food for animals and shade the cave trail providing visitors with a cool and attractive hike. Some of these trees include: Gambel Oak, Big Tooth Maple, and White Fir.

Gambel Oak: This tree often appears shrubby and is therefore commonly known as Shrub Oak. Its leaves are lobed and deeply divided. Gambel Oak is often found in groups of at least a dozen trees. These groups are clones usually produced after a fire by one tree’s root system. In the summer and fall, Gambel Oak’s acorns are an important source of food for mule deer and elk. This tree was also used by Native Americans for food and wood.

Big Tooth Maple: This tree is often shrub-like in appearance with leaves that have 3 to 5 tooth-like lobes. It evolved from its eastern cousin the Sugar Maple. This causes scientists to argue whether Big Tooth Maple should be considered its own species or a variation of the Sugar Maple. In the fall it paints the canyon with brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows making it a favorite among campers and hikers.

White Fir: This tree grows 60 to 100 feet tall and can live up to 300 years. Its needles are silvery blue to silvery green and are relatively flat curving up from the stem. The trunk has a whitish grayish color and is used for lumber. In the winter White Fir is often used for Christmas trees by humans and for food by squirrels.


Shrubs

There are many people who don’t understand the difference between a shrub and a tree. Unlike trees which have one woody stem called the trunk, shrubs are plants that have many woody stems. Shrubs are valuable for a number of reasons such as, food for humans and animals, fuel, soil stabilization, and beauty.

Timpanogos
Cave National Monument
has a great diversity of shrubs. Some of the more common ones found are: Mexican Cliffrose, Rubber Rabbitbrush, and Woods Rose.

Mexican Cliffrose: This shrub has a creamy yellow flower, light red bark, and feathery fruits. It is found on sunny hillsides, and is used by wildlife in the winter as a source of food and by humans to make tea. The Native Americans have used the plant’s bark for making baskets and the wood for constructing arrows.

Rubber Rabbitbrush: This is a large shrub with linear, grayish blue leaves and clusters of yellow flowers. This plant likes to establish itself in disturbed sites and is found on sunny hillsides. It is a unique shrub because it has small amounts of rubber and resin (used to make plastic) found within its branches.

Woods Rose: This is a small shrub with rose-like leaves and small flowers with five pink petals. It is found in areas that receive more water than surrounding arid environments. The petals of the Woods Rose are used for potpourri and the pollen is used by honey bees. The hips can be used to make tea, fruitcakes, jellies, and puddings.

Did You Know?

Helictite

Timpanogos Cave is known for its high concentration of helictites - a spiraling cave formation that seems to defy gravity. Helictites are formed when calcite crystals and dissolved impurities are forced out of a tiny central canal in the helictite by hydrostatic pressure.