The Legend of Timpanogos

Blue and cream colored lapel pin from the 1940 Annual Mount Timpanogos Hike featuring a graphic of Mount Timpanogos.
1940 souvenir pin from the annual pilgrimage to summit Mount Timpanogos. The hike was started by Eugene L. "Timp" Roberts and The Legend of Timpanogos was likely first told during a bonfire at Aspen Grove the night before the hike.


The legend starts with the first print version which was told by Brigham Young University professor Eugene Lusk "Timp" Roberts in 1922. The Roberts version of the story likely debuted at a traditional bonfire held at Aspen Grove the night before the Timp Hike, an annual pilgrimage to summit Mount Timpanogos in the early 1920s. By all accounts this modern story was quickly accepted as an authentic Indian Legend. "Timp" Roberts also initiated a short play of the legend at the 1934 Timp Hike bonfire. The tale has been revisited in print throughout the 1970s, and a compilation of legends was published in 1988 by Effie W. Adams. The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, circa 1990, featured three versions of the legend. The legend was adapted as a ballet by Jacqueline Colledge of the Utah Regional Ballet Company, "Legend of Timpanogos" in 1994, performed at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, and is still occasionally presented by the company.

At least twelve recorded versions of the Legend of Timpanogos exist today. Though the legends vary, most explain the curious outline of a woman that can be seen in the peaks of Mount Timpanogos, or the origin of the "Great Heart," a large stalactite found in the Timpanogos Cave System.

The original version can be found in a collection of stories that Eugene "Timp" Roberts had published in 1922 entitled "Timpanogos, Wonder Mountain". This book serves as a love letter to the area and the beauty of the mountain itself. It contains many early photographs, essays, poems, and stories. This book can still be found in the library archives of multiple local universities.

Mount Timpanogos overlooks Utah Valley as the dominant peak in the region and one of the notable points on the hike - Robert's Horn is named after Eugene Roberts. Standing at 11,750 ft in elevation, the second highest mountain in Utah's Wasatch Range has long beckoned area residents to explain their relationship with the majestic peak just as Eugene "Timp" Roberts did in 1922.

Last updated: September 29, 2023

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