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.
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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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.