Nutty Putty Cave

OFFICIALLY CLOSED....  Our hearts go out to the Jones family and to all the rescue workers who dedicated so much time and effort into the rescue of John Jones.  Let us respect their family wishes and say goodbye to one of Utah's most enjoyed caves.

Video Courtesy of

A map of the cave is available at the following location:

This cave is located on Public School Trust land. After many years of rescues the land owners wanted to fill the entrance with concrete but an agreement was made with the Timp Grotto to gate and control access to the cave to help ensure the safety of visitors. This unfortunatly failed with the death of 26 yr old John Jones on Nov. 26th 2009. The cave is now planned to be permanetly sealed due to the fact that they were unable to recover John's body. The area where he was stuck is one that I did not push myself into nearly as far as John did because I felt it would be too tight to continue, and John weighed a good 30 pounds more than I do.  We will just have to enjoy pictures and memories of this cave from now on.

Just below the entrance in the "Big Slide" at the breakdown ledges.

Upper section of "The Big Slide"

Lower section of "The Big Slide"

Some fun effects.

The lower section of "The Big Slide".

The drop off at the bottom of "The Big Slide".

Resting at the opening of "Bob's Push", better known as "The Birth Canal".
Michael coming out of "The Birth Canal" the right way. Although the "Breech" method is easier as well as less painful.
Nutty Putty is a hydrothermal cave in the west desert of Utah. It was recently gated due to the many accidents that were continually occuring there. In case you did not make it out there before its closure, here are a few pre-digital pics for ya. You can follow this link for a PDF map of the cave.

The entrance.

The infamous "Birth Canal". It is really not very tight, and if you weigh under 200 lbs you should be able to slide right through.

The "Aorta Crawl" is my favorite in the entire cave. It is 115' long and body tight the entire way. If you make it into the "Uterus" don't miss the hole in the ceiling that will get you there.

There are many places to get stuck and this is the primary reason that the cave is now gated. Just a warning if you go, don't go down "The Scout Eater" head first!


rich said... | July 16, 2009 at 5:08 PM

Im so sad this closed down. :( I went there once and had a blast. Do you know any other caves near provo that are similar to this cave? Like one that goes down aways and you have to crawl around tight places to get around? If so, please let me know, im dying to go to one. Thanks!

Anonymous said... | November 26, 2009 at 7:16 AM

now look what happen

Anonymous said... | November 27, 2009 at 4:34 AM

Terribly sad about John Jones. I pray for his wife and family.

jayboy said... | November 28, 2009 at 4:30 AM

terrible, terrifying and tragic story

does anyone know where exactly in the cave John is stuck?

this is a first hand account that says it is Bob's Push:

but other rescuers are saying that it was not near Bob's Push:

"...Jones died late Wednesday after becoming stuck in an unmapped finger of the cave near the end of the main passageway, about 100 feet below the surface and 400 feet from the entrance, not near "Bob's Push" as previously reported...."

is there a rescuer out there that can describe maybe which unexplored hole it was?

could it be Scout Eater?

Spencer Coles said... | November 28, 2009 at 1:50 PM

I believe it was in an unmapped section below Ed's Push. I will have more details to post soon.

jayboy said... | November 28, 2009 at 2:26 PM

i wondered if it could be there as there are many unexplored holes. There or the scout hole, though they've rescued everytime from there.

please let us know, thanks.

Spencer Coles said... | November 28, 2009 at 3:27 PM

I almost got stuck in Scout Eater myself. That is a difficult one to really get wedged into though. It is just steep and you can't turn around so you have to do two finger pushups on a slick round tube to get out. Scarry, but definately not a life threatening tube.

Zahurul Haq said... | November 28, 2009 at 9:31 PM

Hello friends, adventure is good but when such sports take lives and destroy family then it should be abandoned. Dear Rich, its not the right time to demonstrate such wild ideas when we already got one dead. Be respectful to others, don't encourage something dangerous.

Judd & Leslie Zimmerman said... | November 29, 2009 at 10:53 AM

It is impossible for it to have been the Bobs push(the birth canal). If he was going in it is impossible to be upside down since it is uphill and if he were stuck coming out you would only see his head and wouldn't be pulling at his feet. I agree with Spencer. I have started down the scout eater and knew imediately if I kept going I was screwed. Just getting to the scout eater for a guy that size is rough. Let alone down it. I thought a saw a picture of Brandon helping in the rescue attempts. If it was him we should ask him.

Spencer Coles said... | November 29, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Hey Z - I believe that Rich's comments were from back in july and was referring to the cave being gated.

jayboy said... | November 29, 2009 at 2:19 PM

any rescue member on this blog yet? anyone know if the crevasse was under Ed's push? or if not there, where it was? i read today that initially he thought the unmapped hole would lead somewhere

Spencer Coles said... | November 29, 2009 at 5:15 PM

My friend Brandon Kowallis is the guy in the rescue pictures in the video above. I'll check with him to get an exact location.

Laura Steed said... | November 30, 2009 at 4:21 AM

This is the most horrific thing I have ever heard of, I am still so disturbed by it, and am totally heartbroken for John Jones and his family. I cannot imagine how they feel, although, it makes me totally ill! I wonder about why anyone would be compelled to go into a tiny place like that, head first, it's just beyond comprehension! Still, it's sad the cave will be closed, but if the risk is that high I wish it had been years ago!

Spencer Coles said... | November 30, 2009 at 9:26 AM

Brandon just confirmed that John became stuck in the tight crawl below Ed's Push as I had supposed. He stated: "On my map you can see the gray underlying passage in that section that heads southwest and then the passage turns southeast. He is down that passage."

Spencer Coles said... | November 30, 2009 at 9:36 AM

A copy of the map can be viewed here:

jayboy said... | November 30, 2009 at 10:00 AM

i know exactly the spot now. that is a terrible spot and i agree, it should have been blocked off years ago.

if you go to jon jasper's save-the-cave presentation...

on slide 4 there is a great 3-D map of the cave - you can see the exact passage heading downward (first up and SW, then down and SE). it is actually the deepest part of the cave.

and here is a blog from one of John's friends who was there:

here's what he had to say:

"...It is this part of the story that I keep recalling over and over in my head, because at this point I asked John if he wanted to explore the spot, which we later would learn is called the "Ed's Push" area. He went in to the spot face first because he was climbing up, but then it curved and started heading downwards, then it got too small for him to push himself backwards up against gravity, so he slid down further and became wedged..."

Shane C. Coles said... | November 30, 2009 at 6:16 PM

Here is a link to Brandon Kowallis's blog with some more comments.

Spencer said... | December 2, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Thank you for posting this information about Nutty Putty Cave, and for your support of John's family following the tragedy of last week. The family welcomes you and everyone to post any and all of your stories, pictures, and condolences regarding John to the website we have established for these purposes: Emily (John's wife) hopes to gather as many stories and pictures as possible to share with her children about their dad. Anyone can also make a donation to the memorial fund that has been established for Emily's family at the website. Thank you, and may God bless.

Anonymous said... | October 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM

I realize I am ressurecting an old thread here but I just came across this and had to comment. Fifteen years ago or so when I was in college a friend of mine introduced me to Nutty Putty. We went out a few times and usually weren't too adventurous. We would usually just go down to the end of the main shoot to the slanted room above Ed's Push and hang out for a few then climb back out.

On our third trip I though I would explore a bit deeper and I dropped into the hole at the bottom of that slanted room and saw the rainbow like tunnel that extends onward out the other side of the hole. I crawled up head first and peeked over the top then backed back down. I told my friend I was going in for a better look to see if it opened up further on and he said he would follow and pull me out if I got stuck.

So I crawled up and over head first since I wasn't quite flexible enough to flip around where the tunnel bends and starts heading back down (yes stupid I know). I continued on down the other side and forward where it turns off to the right until I realized it wasn't going to open back up anytime soon. I could see a ways ahead but it was all very narrow and dropped away below me.

I was upside down but lying on my back, not my stomache and I couldn't quite take a full breath because of the narrowness of the tunnel. My hands were also stuck at my sides. When I tried to back out I couldn't move. I couldn't seem to make any progress. At this point I dropped my flashlight and a pocketknife that fell into the pit. They disappeared.

I called to my friend, trying to fight off the panic, as visions of Rescue 911 flashed through my head. He came over the rainbow hump as I did but couldn't see my feet. He crawled to the bottom of the rainbow and looked off to the right where I had gone and was able to see that I had gone over a small lip and that when I was backing out, my feet were not getting up above the lip where they needed to be for me to escape. He directed me and I went back deeper into the cave and then reversed again and got my feet up into the right spot and was able to back out a bit. But when the rest of my body got to the lip I didn't have enough strength to overcome gravity and get the bulk of my torso over the lip. At this part of the cave, I was still in too tight to take a full breath.

My friend asked me to wait a minute, he was going to turn around and come in feet first and try to pull me. Unfortunately he tried to turn around at the top of the rainbow tunnel and managed to get stuck with one leg going down each side. He called out saying he was stuck and I really started to worry.

After a few minutes; however, he managed to get unstuck and came down feet first after me. His feet threaded between mine which were now just out of sight at the bottom of the rainbow tunnel where it turns off to the right.

He could only get in just far enough to grab the sole of one of my shoes with his fingertips. On a count of three he pulled and with that little bit of extra force and a lot of adrenaline I managed to get the rest of my body over the lip. I was lying face up and realize now that had I been face down, I might have had more trouble getting my ribs over the lip.

As soon as I was over the lip I yelled at him to clear out and I had enough room and leverage to get the rest of the way out. Needless to say I got out of the cave as fast as I could at that point as my nerves were shot.

Reading this thread and realizing I was in the same spot where that poor guy got stuck and died is extremely sobering. It never occured to me that you could die in there just from being stuck until I heard about the incident.

Anyway, thanks for all the posts, some very interesting information here that didn't quite make it into the news stories.

leonpwhirl said... | September 14, 2014 at 11:14 PM

Thank you for the pictures of the cave, this was the first cave I ever explored as a youth. My dad used to take me here all the time but I never took any pictures.