American Fork Canyon, Utah

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah The spectacular American Fork Canyon north of Provo, Utah is best seen from the trail to Timpanogos Cave National Monument. The highway is narrow and lacks good scenic turnouts.

This is a somewhat dangerous area. Rockfalls from the canyon wall can and do kill people.

American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
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American Fork Canyon, Utah  
American Fork Canyon, Utah

Along this trail you will hike past seven geologic formations

  • Deseret Limestone
  • Gardison Limestone
  • Fitchville Dolomite
  • Maxfield Limestone
  • Ophir Shale
  • Tintic Quartzite
  • Mutual Quartzite
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah Unlike a lot of trails that have shallow gradients that wear you out with an endless slight climb, this one has a moderate grade that gains altitude quickly without being overly difficult.
American Fork Canyon, Utah Looking west down the canyon.
American Fork Canyon, Utah North wall of the canyon.
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah Looking east up the canyon.
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American Fork Canyon, Utah View up toward the caves. The discoverer of the caves said he found them while cutting timber, but who'd log on a slope like this using 19th century methods? The widespread suspicion is that he was prospecting.

Nothing wrong with that, but saying so would invite other people to start looking, too.
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
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American Fork Canyon, Utah This was an off-season hike, and because the rockfall traps were open, we all had to wear hard hats.

Note the cleavage in the quartzite.

American Fork Canyon, Utah American Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah Tunnel on the trail.
American Fork Canyon, Utah Cross-bedding in quartzite.
American Fork Canyon, Utah American Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah Quartzite outcrop.
American Fork Canyon, Utah Cleavage in quartzite
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American Fork Canyon, Utah Looking west out the canyon.
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah Slaty cleavage in Ophir Shale
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American Fork Canyon, Utah 
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American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah Left and below: slickensides in limestone.
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American Fork Canyon, Utah Fitchville Dolomite is extensively veined and fractured.
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah This is not an idle warning.
American Fork Canyon, Utah Left and below: a small thrust fault.
American Fork Canyon, Utah Below. Most geology texts have pictures of trees bent at the base by soil creep. These may be among the record holders.
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah Fractured and veined dolomite.
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American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah Looking up at the cave entrance.
American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah Brecciated Fitchville Dolomite
American Fork Canyon, Utah Not for those with acrophobia.
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American Fork Canyon, Utah  
American Fork Canyon, Utah The cave entrance is ahead above us.
American Fork Canyon, Utah When they say rockfall danger, they aren't kidding.
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
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American Fork Canyon, Utah American Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah American Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah Left and below: a few views in the caves. There are actually three small caves, connected by artificial passages.
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
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American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, Utah Left and below: views from the exit trail/
American Fork Canyon, Utah American Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
American Fork Canyon, UtahAmerican Fork Canyon, Utah
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American Fork Canyon, Utah Entrance to the caves from the exit trail.
American Fork Canyon, Utah One of the rockfall traps above the trail. These are closed during tourist season and opened to dump rocks when the trail is empty, but during the off season they're open.
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American Fork Canyon, Utah 
American Fork Canyon, Utah Liesgang rings on quartzite.

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Created 18 November 2005, Last Update 01 July 2012

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