This summer, write a list of activities you can do outdoors with your kids! I’ll be posting one new outdoor adventure every week this summer because I feel so strongly that it’s vital to our kids health. Of course food is fun, and healthy food is generally our main focus here, but studies are reporting, children who spend more time outdoors are healthier and happier.
Kids who are outdoors get more Vitamin D, which is essential for growing bodies!
Studies are finding kids who spend more time outdoors have higher academic test scores.
Being outdoors naturally increases fitness levels in kids.
Exposure to being outdoors for kids may effectively reduce symptoms of ADHD! ( source )
Yesterday was our last day of school, and the kids were all out by 10am. So, to kick off our “summer of being outdoors”, I wanted to take the kids to one of our favorite outdoor destinations, Timpanogos Caves.
Timpanogos Cave in Utah is an amazing adventure for kids and adults alike. If you live in Utah and haven’t been, put it on your bucket list this summer! If you live outside of Utah, plan to take a visit here. I have seen kids, toddlers, babies on backs, teenagers, parents, and grandparents, of every level of health, climb the 1.5 miles to the top.
So, if you go, here is what you need to know if you bring kids.
Get a reservation.. While you don’t need to have reservations ahead of time, it’s strongly recommended. Weekends and holidays are the busiest times, and I would hate for you to get there and not be able to arrange a tour. There are days, like Memorial Day that sell out! To purchase advance cave tour tickets, call (801) 756-5238 during the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. If you are local, go on a weekday when there are less crowds! For current reservation prices, visit the NPS site . For 2012 tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-15 and $3 for kids ages 3-5 with 0-2yrs free!
The entrance to American Fork Canyon costs money! It’s currently $6 per car, for a 3 day pass. We finally bought an annual pass this year $45 for AF canyon, and $80for a Federal pass)! Now we have to go more than 8 times in the next year!)
The 1.5 mile trail to the top is a paved, yet steep trail. There are many benches to rest along the way however, so take your time and let your kids take as many breaks as necessary. It took us almost an hour to get to the top, whereas our normal hiking time is 2.5 miles per hour. There are signs to read about the area along the way about the geology and the history of the area.
The View from Timpanogos Cave Trail
We passed many locals on the trail up who hike the trail for exercise! You don’t need a pass to the caves to walk up this trail, and it’s a fabulous workout!
Bring your own water! They are phasing out the selling of water bottles at the visitors centers snack bar, but there is a filling station to fill water bottles and hydration packs.
TJ taking a break, looking pensive and drinking his water.
When you get to the top, there is a bathroom! Thank goodness because we made the kids drink all the way up.
When you get in the caves, it’s important for the kids to not touch anything in the cave. While the tour guides say this is hard for kids, the children I’ve seen go through the caves on our tours have always been respectful to the rules. The amazement of the caves and the skill of the knowledgeable and passionate tour guides, keeps kids quiet and attentive the entire tour!
Bring a lunch or picnic. Just north of the parking lot there is a big river and picnic benches. We ate our lunch there after the cave, and before we drove home. It was beautiful!
The rest of the pictures are inside the caves of the formations the tour guides point out.
Formations you see at the beginning of the cave.
The heart of Timpanogos Cave
Salt and Pepper Shakers
The Chicken Leg
I love this activity for getting kids outside. The trail, while hard, is doable. The kids will feel great about themselves for making that climb. The caves are fascinating! Every child will leave in awe and amazement about this beautiful, national treasure.
Also fun for kids- The Jr. Ranger Program ! Join other kids on Saturdays at 10am to learn about the area and being a ranger.