Province/Territory: Alberta

See the Canadian Rocky Mountains from the inside out on an Adventure Tour through caves

  • 4 hours in underground caves
  • 18 metre rappel into a big dark cavern lit only by your headlamp
  • 55 metres of elevation below the entrance is your destination before returning via another route
Join Canmore Cave Tours on the Adventure Tour into Rat’s Nest Cave to discover the natural beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains from the inside out. No lights, no ladders and no walkways to take away from your chance to crawl, climb, rappel, slip and slither on your way through the caves and caverns. Push your comfort zone by learning how to explore caves using a headlamp and your own ability. Encourage your friends to slide through challenging tunnels like The Laundry Chute and Five Way Chamber.  Your guide will explain how the four kilometres of tunnels were formed and what each geological feature is. Spend time in the spectacular Grand Gallery then work your way down to the Grotto full of stalactites and stalagmites and a crystal clear pond of water. Turn off your headlamps and listen to the musical sounds of the water as it drips and trickles around you. A different route will have you back to the surface with a new appreciation of the mountains and of your own new found ability.
Why you should visit
• The 6 hour Adventure tour includes 4 hours in the caves using challenging routes. Test your sense of adventure rappelling, crawling, slipping or inching on your belly.  • Extra activities on the Adventure Tour include opportunities to do challenge squeezes through narrow caves or finding your way in short sections without headlamps.  • The 4.5 hour Explorer Tour includes 2.5 hours in the caves without the rappelling but still offers adrenaline pumping adventures.  • Discover unique cave formations that started as a drip of rainwater seeping through the ground. Learn what minerals and conditions create stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and flowstone. •  No handrails, interior lighting or walkways are in the caves. It’s a totally wild adventure where you learn to trust yourself to explore beyond your own limitations. • While hiking to the cave, watch for wildlife, learn how the mountains were formed and see pictographs on the limestone at the caves made by travellers over 7000 years ago. • Skeletal remains of over 30 mammalian species have been discovered in the bone bed. Watch for the resident pack rats at the entrance. • Due to the unique combination of archeologic artifacts, the bone bed and the geological formations, Rat’s Nest Cave is a Provincial Heritage Site and kept locked to control human access.

Weather

It is always 5 degrees Celsius in the cave but the mountain regions of Alberta experiences long harsh winters and brilliant summers. Both seasons have unpredictable weather and snow can fall even in the summer months therefore cold weather precautions should be taken any time of the year.

• The cave tours are offered all year long. In the summer be prepared for the hike up to the cave in light layers that can be removed as you warm up. In the winter, the hike can be cool so dress in warm layers and wear hats, gloves and winter boots.

•Summer days (June to August) are long with daytime temperatures reaching highs of 15 C and cooling in the evenings to 5 C. Less than 10 cm of rain is expected each month but it can be misty. So always bring sun protection, a sweater and rain protection.

•November through March expect lots of snow (up to 2.6 metres) and an average temperature of -10C.

•Spring (April – May) still has a large volume of snow falling but the daily temperature is warming up. April’s average daytime temperature is 4C and May is 8C. Warmer coats, gloves and boots are advised.

 • Canmore weather.

Visitor information

• Caving is a rewarding but strenuous activity needing a good level of fitness. The tour is not wheelchair accessible.

• Safety gear and coveralls are provided but warm comfortable clothes and hiking or running shoes with good tread are necessary.

• Tours are offered all year long at Canmore Cave Tours. Reservations are by phone 1-877-317-1178 (Canada and U.S.A.) or local 403-678-8819.

• All guides are professional and certified by local and international caving, backcountry and wilderness governing associations.

• Guests need their own transportation to get to the caves.

When to go
• Tours are offered all year long for groups of two or more.  • Tours in the summer include a hike to see fossils and alpine flowers but expect higher volumes of visitors.  • Winter tours include hikes on snow-packed trails watching for animal tracks in the snow. Winter tours are cooler on the approach and departure but offer smaller group sizes. 
Need to know
• The Adventure Tour takes 6 hours to complete • The tour is available for people ages 12 and up that are reasonable fit and willing to try new adventures including rappelling in a cave. • Bring your camera to capture the adventure. • A water bottle and snack are provided. The office has more cave approved snacks for sale. • Bring spare socks and shoes for after the adventure. The pair of hiking shoes or runners with good treads used in the caves will get muddy.  
Getting Here
• Canmore is situated at the gateway to Banff National Park. It is 120 kilometres (70 minutes) west of Calgary or 22 kilometres (15 minutes) east of the town of Banff.  • Meet your guides and collect your safety gear and coveralls at the office in Canmore.  • Follow the guide in your own vehicle for 5 – 10 minutes to the parking area near Rat’s Nest Cave.  • Hike to the cave entrance is 20 to 30 minutes depending on how much you explore on the way up the trail.