September 18, 2009

Timpanogos Cave National Monument, UT

Next we traveled down to Timpanogos Cave National Monument in the Wasatch Front range. Just south of Salt Lake City, this cave system is unique due to being a fault cave. It was formed when a fault on the mountain moved, creating a large crack in the mountain that allowed rainwater to flow down and deposit calcite formations. It is also home to some really unique formations I have never seen in any other caves before including, helictites which resemble soda straws but curl around in all directions like curly fries. We were told that Timpanogos Cave has one of the largest collection of these formations in the world.

To get to the cave requires a 1.5 mile hike that climbs 1000 feet through stands of white fir and canyon maple. It is located up the beautiful American Fork Canyon, which gives a great peak at the geology of the Wasatch Front Range. The cave tour is lead by National Park Rangers and lasts about 1 hour. Hilina loves caves and was having a blast inside. But, the boring park ranger kept going "blah blah blah" and stopping us while Hilina wanted to continue. Linda had her hands full. At one point, the ranger was talking and Hilina blurted out "No No No".

That night we camped at Utah Lake State Park near Provo. Utah Lake is another, albeit smaller, remnant of Lake Bonneville. However, due to the inflow of freshwater from the mountains and an outlet has remained mostly fresh, as compared to the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake is so salty because evaporation greatly outpaces inflow and there is no outlet for it. Thus, any salts that flow into the basin remains in that basin and has been accumulating for over 20,000 years. As evening approached, a vicious looking storm formed over the Wasatch Front and looked like it might come over us. However, it eventually broke up and we never saw any rain.

From Utah Lake, we then made the 5 hour run to Kanab, which will be our home base for the next month. On the next post, I will tell you about our lovely adventures at Crazy Horse RV park and why we are paying more to stay at Hitch-N-Post RV Park instead.

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