Canmore Cave Tours


Join us YEAR ROUND, RAIN or SHINE, for a Natural History tour into Rat’s Nest Cave; a wild, undeveloped cave under Grotto Mountain, near Banff and Canmore, Alberta, Canada!

Canmore Cave Tours has been offering tours at Rat’s Nest Cave, since 1992. While we have grown since then our goal remains the same - to offer our guests the most extraordinary, unforgettable experience possible.

As passionate cavers and cave advocates we feel it is a privilege to share this amazing place with you, and when you join a tour with us you do so as our friend and fellow explorer. We hope that at the end of the day, tired and dirty as you may be, you are brimming with as much excitement and appreciation for the cave as we are.

  • Adventure Cave Tour


    Our Adventure Tour is our flagship tour and has been recognized as a Canadian Signature Experience. The longest tour we offer in Rat’s Nest Cave. Rappel, squeeze and crawl through this amazing wild cave!

     

    •     Canmore, Alberta
    •     6 hours.
    •     $165.00 + GST (Youth $145.00)
    •     Ages 12+
    •     Year Round

    Book Now

  • Explorer Cave Tour


    The Explorer Tour may be our shortest cave tour, but it is by no means short on fun and excitement. 2 hours underground crawling past prehistoric bones, investigating our ancient cave formations and even squeezing into places (if you so choose of course)!

     

    •     Canmore, Alberta
    •     4.5 hours.
    •     $130.00 + GST (Youth $115.00)
    •     Ages 10+
    •     Year Round

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  • Discovery Tour


    A family friendly interpretive hike designed to introduce our guests to the incredible history of the Bow Valley. Highlights of the tour include “catch and release” fossil hunting, wildlife tracking, and a short visit to the entrance of Rat’s Nest Cave.

     

    •     Canmore, Alberta
    •     2 - 3 hours.
    •     $55.00 + GST (Youth $35.00, 5 and under FREE)
    •     All Ages
    •     May 15th – October 1st (weather permitting)

    Book Now

  • Explainimation


    Watch a brief info video to learn more about our cave tours. It's informative, and cute.

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Need some #unforgettable inspiration?

Taking some time to admire the formations and talk about the preservation and respect of these delicate and special features! Photo by @b_mackinnon_photography #cave #caving #canmore #canmorecavetours #ratsnestcave #edmonton #yeg #calgary #yyc #travelalberta #explorebanff #explorealberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #canada #mybanff #canadianrockies #adventure #explore #getoutside #goexplore #naturalhistory #preservation
Cave formations need water to grow. Every drop that passes, every pulse, ebb and flow deposits just a teeny tiny bit of calcite that over thousands of years turns into something we can see. They look like they are frozen in time as the water drops fall from their tips. The fastest growing ones in Rats Nest Cave take 100 years to grow 1cm!#canmore #travelalberta #edmonton #yeg #calgary #yyc #explorebanff #explorealberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #caving #canadianrockies #cave #geology #adventure #explore #water #speleothems #stalactites #ratsnestcave #canmorecavetours
The cave is a comforting place and you always know what you
Our regular tours are up to 8 people, but if you have a bigger group and you all want to go on a caving adventure, give us a call and we will make it happen! Thanks @domi_pocket for having an awesome day with us! #morethemerrier #cave #caving #canmore #canmorecavetours #ratsnestcave #edmonton #yeg #calgary #yyc #travelalberta #explorebanff #explorealberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #canada #mybanff #canadianrockies #adventure #explore #getoutside #goexplore
As the snow starts to get deeper dont forget to bring some good footwear to help get you up to the cave! Hiking boots or winter boots are much better than running or cross training shoes on the slippery trail and even in the cave👍❄! #ratsnestcave #cave #canmore #calgary #yyc #explorebanff #explorealberta #travelalberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #caving #nature #naturephotography #slowmotion #geology #mountains #snow #winter
The views this time of year are spectacular here in the Rockies! The snow is starting to fly here in Canmore which is even a little early for most of the trees that still hold on to their leaves. Caving can take you many places, all over the world, and we are fortunate enough to have a beautiful cave in our backyard with this view on our way up! #canmorecavetours #ratsnestcave #cave #canmore #calgary #yyc #explorebanff #explorealberta #travelalberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #caving #nature #naturephotography #adventure #explore #flashphotography #canoncanada #canonphotography #canon60d #canon_photos #geology #mountains #snow #winter
Some of you might have heard or will hear about the bone bed. To you a mysterious place in rats nest cave, down at the bottom of a pit that you cannot see. Sometimes the guides go explore the "wild side" of the cave and this is the first squeeze that they encounter. It is quite small, full of bones, rocks, and debris and not for the faint of heart! 34 different species of mammal bones have been identified at the bottom of the pit and they are very old, around 2500 to 7000 years old! That is 34 species out of a total of 51 species that could be found, are found at the bottom of the pit! 📷@b_mackinnon_photography 
#science #geologyrocks #canmorecavetours #ratsnestcave #cave #canmore #yeg #calgary #yyc #edmonton #explorebanff #explorealberta #travelalberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #caving #nature #naturephotography #petzl #adventure #explore #flashphotography #canoncanada #canonphotography #canon60d #canon_photos #geology
For those of you that dont think the tight spots are your cup of tea we have larger passageways to suite everyones fancy! Upon exiting this area you can do an awesome roll to the side, or choose smaller sections if you want to spice it up! 
#cave #caving #canmore #canmorecavetours #ratsnestcave #edmonton #yeg #calgary #yyc #travelalberta #explorebanff #explorealberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #canada #mybanff #canadianrockies #adventure #explore #getoutside #goexplore
Sometimes all you need is a little teamwork to help you get through the tricky spots! Caving is a great way to meet new friends and challenge yourself to accomplish goals. A little encouragement and positivity goes a long way! This awesome group is just coming through the aptly named challenge squeeze, a "tighter spot" we usually get to go through on our tours!
#teamwork #highfive #caving #canmore #travelalberta #edmonton #yeg #calgary #yyc #explorebanff #explorealberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #canada #canadianrockies #cave #goexplore #adventure #adventuretime #getoutside #ratsnestcave #canmorecavetours
Winter has arrived a bit early but the cave is still nice and warm throughout winter. However, as winter sets in the entrance starts to make a beautiful wall of icicles, these drops are just the beginning! 
The cave stays nice and warm (~4.5C or ~40F) and as that warm air rises out of the cave entrance it cools rapidly and condenses on the rock and metal gate to form icicles. 
#canmore #travelalberta #edmonton #yeg #calgary #yyc #explorebanff #explorealberta #visitcanmore #banff #rockymountains #alberta #explorecanada #caving #canadianrockies #cave #geology #adventure #explore #Ice #icicles #winter #ratsnestcave
Caving is a great way to explore the landscape of the Rocky Mountains, but it
One of the often remarked upon features of our cave is a creamy white deposit covering the far wall of the 18m pitch. This is called moonmilk, adulterated from the German monmilch which means gnome
Did you know that our wild cave tours began as courses on cave science? These courses were made possible by funding from the Science Alberta Foundation whose mandate it is to transmit science to the general public via an interesting medium. I think we can all agree that exploring a cave is the perfect medium for learning about science!
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#explorealberta #travelalberta #canmore #visitcanmore #yyc #yeg #explorebanff #banffadventure #wanderlust #adventureseeker #doyoutravel #travelmore #goexplore #wonderfulplaces #openmyworld #lovetotravel #adventurethatislife #roamtheplanet #seekmoments #photography #cave #caving #adventure #banff #feedyouradventure #calgary #edmonton #rockymountains #science
During excavations of Rats Nest Cave a projectile point was found. This small dart tip was made from "Banff chert" in the Pelican Lake style which dates between ca. 1350 BC and 100 AD. Since the Pelican Lake style points are usually found on the Plains this might suggest that the Plains culture had broader reach than previously believed.
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#explorealberta #travelalberta #canmore #visitcanmore #yyc #yeg #explorebanff #banffadventure #wanderlust #adventureseeker #doyoutravel #travelmore #goexplore #wonderfulplaces #openmyworld #lovetotravel #adventurethatislife #roamtheplanet #seekmoments #photography #cave #caving #adventure #banff #feedyouradventure #calgary #edmonton #rockymountains
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Frequently
Asked
Questions

What is the difference between the Adventure and Explorer Tours?

The Adventure Tour is a total of 6 hours long, 4 hours of which are spent underground. The Explorer Tour spends 2.5 of its total 4.5 hours underground. The main difference between the two is that the Adventure Tour includes an 18m rappel (no experience necessary) and the extra time allows us to explore more of the cave. Both tours are similar in difficulty and require a moderate level of fitness.

What is the difference between the Discovery Tour and the Cave Tours?

The Discovery Tour is an interpretive hike to Rat's Nest Cave, and does not venture beyond the entrance of the cave. You will have the opportunity to briefly visit the "twilight zone" where you can see pictographs and bones, but the majority of the tour will be spent exploring the approach trail to the cave.

Is there a minimum age?

The minimum age for the Explorer Tour is 10 years.

The minimum age for the Adventure Tour is 12 years.

There is no minimum age for the Discovery Tour, however small children who are unable to walk to whole distance must be carried in an approved backpack and must wear a safety helmet when nearing the cave (If there is no other party in your group then you may also opt to limit the distance you travel i.e. not visit the cave)

Is there a maximum size?

Generally speaking, fitness is more of a concern than size. However, all participants must wear a safety harness which has a maximum waist size of 46" (116 cm) and a maximum leg size of 33" (84 cm). If you have any concerns about size please don't hesitate to contact us.

How large of a group can I bring?

For the Explorer and Discovery Tours we can accommodate up to 48 people in a single group. Usually we will break this group up into smaller groups as we travel throug the cave or along the trail, but you will all be in the cave together. On the Adventure Tour the most we can accomodate at a single time is 16 people. Our specialty programs will list the maximum group size for that particular activity.

Despite these general restrictions we will always endeavour to make something work for you. We are limited by the number of staff we have available on a particular day, but we are willing to get very creative with logistics if you are! Give us a call to discuss your ideas and if we can, we will make something work: contact us.

What is included and what should I bring?

We provide all of the necessary caving equipment including coveralls, kneepads, gloves, helmet & headlamp, harness & safety lanyard, and backpack. The backpack will be shared by two people and will not go into the cave. We will also provide you with a Clif Bar energy bar, and a 500mL bottle of water (in a reusable bottle that is yours to keep).

You will need to bring good footwear, warm clothing, a camera (optional) and if you have any dietary restrictions, please bring a snack that you know works for you. Also, if you will require medication during the tour it is a good idea to bring 2x what you would expect to use, just in case.

Footwear must be closed-toe and should have a sturdy tread. Hiking boots or shoes are best, but a sturdy running shoe will also work. Other options include rubber boots or winter boots (in the winter)

The cave is 5 degrees celsius, so warm clothing is recommended. Imagine what you would wear if you had to spend a few hours in a refrigerator. We recommend long pants, long sleeves, a warm sweater, hoodie or jacket. Synthetic fabrics are best as they will keep you warm even if you get wet.

Any cameras going into the cave will need to fit into your pockets. We do not allow backpacks in the cave. Small point-and-shoot cameras or smart phones are welcome but please keep in mind that the cave environment is not particularly friendly towards electronics. High humidity and dust can damage equipment, and screens can break if you accidentally sit on it. Electronics are brought at your own risk.

Is transportation provided?

No, transportation is not provided. If you do not have your own vehicle we can arrange a taxi to the cave for you at an additional cost. You can use Canmore's public transit to get to our office.

How hard is the tour?

The hike to the cave takes approximately 30-40 minutes and is uphill the whole way on a mountain trail. Most of our guests find this to be the hardest part of the day, but we do take lots of stops along the way to enjoy the scenery.

Once in the cave the pace is quite slow as we maneuver through the passages. This is not a flat walking tour. There are no handrails, walkways or fixed lighting. We climb, crawl, slide and wiggle our way around the cave so it is best to have a moderate level of fitness.Even more important though is your sense of adventure!

Are there rats or bats?

Rat's Nest Cave is named after the nests of Bushy-tailed Wood Rats found in the entrance. This species of super-cute rodents is native to the area and they use the cave as a home due to it's constantly warm temperatures and protection from predators. We rarely see the rats, and if we do there is usually just one.

Bat's are rarely seen at Rat's Nest Cave. The cave is not a hibernaculum (a place where bats hibernate through the winter). We usually only see the occasional bat in the summer as they are passing through the area.

What if I'm pregnant?

Please make sure the inform us if you are expecting. We are happy to speak discretely with you about it if it hasn't been made public knowledge, but for your sake and the child's it is important that your guide is aware of the situation.

Participation on the Adventure and Explorer Tours is limited to first trimester (12 weeks) only. The Discovery Tour has no restrictions as long as this level of activity does not dramatically exceed that to which you are accustomed. Feel free to Contact Us if you'd like more information.

It is always adviseable to consult with your physician before participating in an activity like caving while pregnant.