Timpanogos Cave tours to resume next month

Popular American Fork Canyon attraction welcomes back visitors after one-year hiatus

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Ranger Cami McKinney leads a tour of Hansen Cave at Timpanogos Cave National Monument. After a one-year hiatus, the monument resumes the popular tours starting May 28.

Cave tours will resume May 28 at Timpanogos Cave National Monument after a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Visiting the cave system in American Fork Canyon has long been a coveted experience for Utahns, who can now enjoy it again, but they will be urged to be masked and maintain social distance inside the cramped spaces.

“We are happy to welcome visitors back to the park caves,” said Superintendent Jim Ireland, “but this plan really depends on the support and cooperation of all of our visitors this summer, especially compliance with the mask requirement inside the dark, wet cave system. If everyone works together, we hope to safely continue tours throughout the summer.”

Tour group sizes will be reduced from 16 to 14, so rangers will not be able to usher as many people through the caves as they have in the past. They are also reducing the number of tours to allow time to sanitize the handrails between tours.

The tour won’t go to some of the more confined spots that are normally visited and the monument’s once-a-day caving introduction tours will remain on hold, according to Cami McKinney, the monument’s head of interpretation and visitor services.

Just two of the cave destinations run by the National Park Service operated during pandemic, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Now others are beginning to resume operations, such as Wind Cave in South Dakota. Great Basin National Park, which manages Lehman Caves in Nevada four hours southwest of Salt Lake City, resumes its cave tours May 23.

“Every park is trying to figure out the way to move into the new normal,” McKinney said.

Timpanogos tours can be reserved up to 30 days in advance at www.recreation.gov starting April 28. Tickets are $12 for adults and teens, $7 for kids 11 and under and $2 for those 2 and under. Lehman tours can be reserved at the same site starting April 23.

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