Nutty Putty Cave


Nutty Putty
Brandon Kowallis © - Used W/Permission
DISCOVERY & FIRST EXPLORATIONS - Salt Lake caver Dale Green was the first to explore Nutty Putty Cave in 1960. Nearby ranchers were the original discoverers and they directed Dale Green to the top of a nearby hill where a small pit had been found that housed several snakes. Though the cave location was known to the ranchers, it had yet to be entered. Green recalled that following a short down climb and a tight belly crawl the cave opened up to a gradually sloping downward passage. The ground was covered with a soft mud and there were a several pockets of gypsum crystals, much of this is now gone. A short time later, Green invited several people from the Brigham Young University Outdoor club to visit the cave and its popularity skyrocketed. By 2005, the cave was receiving nearly 5,000 recreational visits per year!
Nov. 26, 2009 John Jones’ dies, caving suspended.
May 18, 2009 First groups allowed to access the cave under the new online reservation system process.
April 24, 2009 New online reservations system goes live.
March 2009 New Cave Management Plan signed with Timpanogos Grotto
January 2009 Rabbit Trap & Silly Putty caves permanently sealed shut.
September 2009 Little Sahara
Caleb Williams (12) dies in a sand cave collapse.
September 2007 Nutty Putty Cave Closed
May 24, 2006
Nutty Putty Cave Gated
April 25-26, 2006 Blowhole Cave Gated
April 18, 2006 Rabbit Trap Cave and Silly Putty Cave Gated
April 14, 2006 Cave Management Agreement signed with Timpanogos Grotto
“Y” Mountain Drowned
Scott K. McDonald (28) Provo; J. Blake Donner (24) Springville; Jennifer Lynn Galbraith (21) Pleasant Grove; Ariel Singer (18) Orem
2005 BYU considers leasing Nutty Putty Cave until the “Y” Mountain cave drownings
September 4, 2004 Nutty Putty
 David Crowther (23)
August 20, 2004 Nutty Putty
Brock Clark (16)
March 17, 2001 Nutty Putty
2 - Boy Scouts (13)
July 29, 1999 Nutty Putty
Chris Hale (17), Chris Marrow (17)
1960 Nutty Putty cave is first explored by Dale Green
Dale Green Accepting The Conservation Award For The Timpanogos Grotto

In a phone conversation with Dale Green on April 29, 2009, Dale was able to share some of the fun finding those early caves. He received the lead to the Nutty Putty Cave thinking it was directions to the Blow Hole Cave. “The USGS somehow confused the caves because Blowhole Cave is not on Blowhole Hill,” Dale shared. He said that they headed south from Salt Lake on the old paved highway heading west out of Lehi. Once they got to the now popular 4 corners in Saratoga Springs, the paved highway turned to dirt road as you traveled south down the west side of Utah Lake towards US 6 in Elberta.

Dale said it was 3 years of several trips out there before they finally found the Nutty Putty Cave. He said that they came upon the cave and entered the first time and explored down the Big Slide and got to the end and they decided to call the exploration off when they got to the edge of the 15’ drop off where the cable ladder is now installed. When asked what he thought when he came to the surface he stated in a reflective gruff tone, “I didn’t like the cave!” Then he added, “But you have to understand that there were lots of other newly discovered caves with great things to see. There were no great features in this cave.”

When asked if there were any pictures or stories written of those first visits, Dale said, “In those days we had Kodachrome with a speed of 6. This cave was so dirty and dusty that we didn’t dare take our cameras inside. It’s not like it is today where I take my camera in my pocket with me everywhere.”

When asked about the terrain near the cave entry, Dale stated, “The vegetation in general and a lot of the dirt, you know soil, with a few things growing on it shrubs, and what not, have all been tracked down. It’s all gone. It was very different, there was no road up there then either. You walked all the way.”

So you were given coordinates with a map and were just out there searching... Dale responded emphatically, “No. He (the rancher) just pointed from Allen’s Ranch (laughing), and I of course had a topographic map but a... I wanted to find Blowhole and he...he showed me Rassle Knoll instead, and I, uh can’t remember exactly but it was very confusing to find out that Blowhole was not on Blowhole Hill.”

Dale Green resting in full cave gear.

At that point had anybody been into Blowhole either? “Oh Yeahhh, the ranchers had been in and they had lowered a 1” steel cable all the way to the bottom so that they could get down there and they used that to climb on and they thought that the steam coming out of Blowhole was coming from a lake down there. And they wanted the water but, well that didn’t work out. I think we had two trips to Blowhole before we went in just to get that cable out,... it weighed a ton!”

So who did you cave with back then? “Oh I can only think of one person and that was Earl Peterson, and he has long since quit.”

So where were you living at the time, Utah County? “Oh no. I lived in Salt Lake, in this same place. But that was over 60 years ago. I just... It’s sort of a blank, a blur you might say.”

So there was an old highway that went down the west side of the lake, is that how you found it? “Yeah, that highway that is paved now was all dirt road after you went south on the road that goes out to Eagle Mountain from Lehi. From there on clear to US 6 it was dirt road.”

You guys must have had a shortcut. You obviously didn’t head down to mile marker 7 and turn west... “No, they didn’t have any mile markers. Yeah we had to go all that way on a dirt road, then we went west on essentially the same area you use to get there now. They were all County roads.”

When you found the cave the first time, were you prepared to go inside? “Oh yeah, we were heading for Rabbit Trap cave so we had our caving gear.”

Then the recording abruptly stopped, so I only have my memory of the conversation that lasted another 5 minutes or so. I promise to sit down with him again and learn more about his early adventures exploring the caves on the west side of Utah Lake. Michael Leavitt

Here is another written account from Dale as he reflects and recites some of his brief journal entries regarding the discoveries in and around the Nutty Putty Cave. Most of the references are to what is now known then as Rassle Knoll Cave, then Windless Cave, and finally what we now call Sully Putty Cave today. He does make brief reference of finally finding the Snake Pit Cave that we now call the Nutty Putty Cave...

I began exploration of this area began in late 1957. On November 24th of that year I had a long talk with John Hutchings of Lehi about many topics, including the discovery of Timpanogos Cave. I got about 15 cave leads from him, including people to talk to. One of them was Art Allen, who maintained Allen's Ranch. I was specifically looking for Blowhole, as mentioned by Hutchings. On Saturday, December 14, I made a solo trip to an unnamed hill, decades later named Greeley Hill, and found Blowhole. What a find.

On Sunday, December 15, I went to another nearby hill, mistakenly named Blowhole Hill by the USGS, to look for Snake Cave. I previously had an interesting visit with Art Allen (can't remember when) who not only told me how to find Blowhole, but of another "Snake Cave" on what he insisted was a hill called "Rassle Knoll". He said those USGS guys didn't know what they were doing. The knoll got that name from an incident where either he or his brother, can't remember which, had a 'rasslin' fight' on top of the knoll with some sheep herder. In the spring of some year in the mid '30s, a U. of U. biologist poured yellow paint all over a ball of rattlesnakes curled up in the entrance. Later, he came out and tried to trace where the snakes went.

Art said he remembered one winter when he was caught on top of the knoll in a blizzard and spent several hours huddled in the warm, moist air coming from the cave. "Dang near saved my life" or words to that effect.

Anyway, from my diary - "Dec 15, 1957 - Found Rassle Knoll Cave. Pit with iron winch. Art Allen at Allen's Ranch told me of Snake Cave nearby. ...Found Pink Lime Pit. 60-70 feet deep. Nice ladder climb. Was unable to find warm air holes on West side of Boulter Mtns. Alone."

I returned a few weeks later with help. Again from the diary: "Jan 5, 1958. Pink Lime Pit. Pit 65' deep, 60' long. Once beautifully decorated. Rassle Knoll Pit only 12' deep with lots of warm air from small hole. Can be dug out. Found Rabbit Trap Cave. Lots of bones. Dead rabbit in passage. About 100' long. Couldn't find Snake Cave. Blowhole went down about 130' vertical. Lots more left. w/George Beck of Pittsburg Grotto, Bill Clark, Pete Sanchez."

Much later, I believe in the late '80s, the pit was rediscovered and renamed "Windless Cave" for reasons that escape me. Later it was refound and renamed "Silly Putty Cave". Both renamings carried the connotation of original discovery! What will it be renamed 10 years from now? The winch over the cave had long since disappeared. When we found Nutty Putty Cave later (the Snake Cave I had looked for), we made the mistake of taking college students from BYU there, and look what happened.

Dale Green


See our CAVE NEWS section for actual news stories about the cave.


SAVE THE CAVE - Viewing this online presentation by Jon Jasper is a must when you consider the events that led to the 2006 cave closure. Timpanogos Grotto Cave Management Team members Jon Jasper, Cami Pulham, and Chuck Acklin have dedicated countless hours to resolve the issues.

MARCH 2009

  • A) The revised Cave Management Plan was formally signed and approved. The new focus is to create the awareness for safe caving and to place the entire responsibility for the tour groups upon the shoulders of the Tour leaders and the trip participants. Well trained and well equipped cavers are safe cavers. Unprepared and poorly equipped groups will not be tolerated.
  • B) Michael Leavitt joined the Cave Management Team at the perfect time in early 2009. Michael brought to the team the skill set to automate the reservation process and online information presentation now found on this website. The great news is that their combined efforts were successful and the Cave Management Team has announced the new reservation system and access process.