AMERICAN FORK Timpanogos Cave's stalactites and stalagmites can be seen for free this Saturday in recognition of National Public Lands Day.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the National Parks Service and several other government bureaus will continue their participation in the 15th annual National Public Lands Day. The entrance fees for those bureaus will be waived once again, but this is the first time that Timpanogos Cave National Monument will participate by waiving their expanded amenity fees.
"It is an opportunity to open up our doors and be a little more inviting to some folks who might be turned off from visiting us because they have to pay," Timpanogos Cave National Monument Superintendent Denis Davis said. "This is a national monument for all Americans, so if we can open it up and get some people that normally wouldn't come then we would love to have them."
The cave tours, which normally cost $7 for adults and $5 for children over 6, will be offered every 15-20 minutes throughout the day Saturday. The first tour will begin at 8 a.m. and the final tour will start at 3:30 p.m. The monument's staff encourages visitors to arrive early, as the tours fill up quickly.
This monument has enjoyed continued popularity among visitors this season, even while other parks and monuments have seen a decline throughout the past year, possibly due to decreased travel.
"This year, at least up until now, we have been above our average by about 12 percent," Davis said. "I believe that some of that is due to the fact that people are looking for things to do closer to home. Some other national parks saw decreases but since we are right here close by, I believe it has brought people out."
The hike to the cave is about 1.5 miles with elevation increasing over 1,000 feet. The hike to and from the cave combined with the subsequent tour should take about three hours so drinking water, as well as jackets for once you enter the cave, are recommended.
Visiting the cave can be a different experience depending on the time of year. Davis believes that from now up until Oct. 19 when the monument closes for the winter, is the perfect atmosphere."This is a terrific time because of all the fall colors," he said. "The reds of maples in addition to oranges and yellows of the aspens are beautiful and the next week or two is the prime time to see those. The hike up to the cave takes some serious effort so in the nice, cool, fall temperatures I think it's more pleasant then going in the heat of the summer."