Find Yourself
EXPLORE | ADVENTURE | DISCOVER
Deep in the Canadian Rockies
Find Yourself
EXPLORE | ADVENTURE | DISCOVER
Deep in the Canadian Rockies

introductions

  • 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.

    Read Our Reviews
    About Canmore Cave Tours
  • Canmore, Alberta, Canada

    Canmore is an authentic mountain lifestyle community nestled in the spectacular Bow River Valley and surrounded by the majesty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. In this dynamic and energetic town you will find award-winning festivals, world-class mountain sports, outstanding health and wellness, vibrant arts and culture, unique boutique shopping and remarkable dining experiences, all on the doorstep of Banff National Park.

    Canmore is just a 60 minutes west of Calgary and 25 minutes east of the town of Banff so come visit us and see why in Canmore you can: Do More, Play More, Live More!

    View Larger Image
    About Canmore
  • Rat's Nest Cave

    Rat’s Nest Cave is a special place. In 1987 it was designated a Provincial Historic Resource because of its incredible archaeological significance. It is home to ancient pictographs, 7000 year old bones, and beautiful cave formations. At over 4km long, Rat’s Nest Cave is one of the longest caves in Canada.

    The water-sculpted passages of the cave offer us seemingly endless opportunities to learn and explore. At 5 degrees celsius, the cave is a cool but comfortable destination every day of the year, a trait enjoyed by cave residents like bushy-tailed wood rats, and North America’s smallest mammal - the pigmy shrew.

    With no lights, handrails or walkways we are left to enjoy the cave in its natural state, just as the original explorers did.

    Explore the Cave Map
    About Canmore Cave Tours

The Cave Experience

The thought of caving often invokes images of extreme adventure, and if that's what you're looking for we can certainly accommodate.

We also understand that not everyone is into the adventurous side of caving. If you find yourself in this category we still have plenty of great options for you too.

Every caver enjoys the cave in their own way, so let us help you discover what those stories and memories are for you.

Adventure. Inspire. Grow.


Whether your goal is to challenge yourself and push your limits or to enjoy the sights, sounds and unique beauty that the cave has to offer, your story begins here:

Go Caving
Stories of Adventure in Rats Nest Cave

Experience: Adventure

This is your opportunity to embrace your inner explorer. Climb, crawl, wiggle and slide your way through Rat's Nest Cave on one of our wild cave tours, or discover the fascinating history of the area on our interpretive hike.

Experience: Inspiration in Rats Nest Cave

Experience: Inspiration

The cave speaks to every one of its visitors differently and the unEarthed series is about bringing those stories to light. These unique experiences include musical performances 10-stories underground, guided meditations in the darkest place on Earth and many more.

Experience: Growth in Rats Nest Cave

Experience: Growth

The cave is a fantastic place for challenge and growth. We offer caving courses for those looking to take their caving adventures to the next level, and our team building programs are a unique way to hone leadership, teamwork and communication skills at all levels.

Adventure. Inspire. Grow.

Whether your goal is to challenge yourself and push your limits or to enjoy all of the sights, sounds and unique beauty that the cave has to offer, your story begins here:

Upcoming Events

unEarthed | Music

Ellen Froese & Derek Curtis

Read Our Interview With Ellen

Music in the Mountain: Ellen Froese and Derek W. Curtis

If you like music and adventure, get ready for an unforgettable experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen – or heard. Canmore Cave Tours is thrilled to bring you two amazing performers in one very unique way.

On Friday, September 29, Ellen Froese and Derek W. Curtis will be playing the Grand Gallery in Rat's Nest Cave, located 100 feet underground - and you are going to have to climb, crawl, wiggle and slide your way through the cave to get there.

As they prepare for their debut in-cave performance, we caught up with singer and leading lady, Ellen Froese, to chat about performing below the earth, the launch of her new album, and the story behind the name of her latest single.

Q: It’s not every day that an artist gets to perform inside a cave! Where did this idea come from?

A: The idea happened back in June. I was on the road with my bluegrass-inspired band In With The Old, and we were opening for Raine Hamilton at The Bassment in Saskatoon. Raine was talking about performing the next day at Rat’s Nest Cave in Canmore. I happened to be in the process of booking the tour for my new self-titled album, Ellen Froese, and I thought it would be a really unique place to perform. So I shot the team [at Canmore Cave Tours] an email and they made it happen!

Q: What are you most looking forward to about performing in Rat’s Nest Cave?

A: The ambience of playing deep in the belly of a cave is going to be sweet! As a musician, when you book a tour, it’s great to be open to a variety of performance venues. Often you might book a fairly conventional slot at a bar, and of course those gigs are a lot of fun, but sometimes the nature of the venue can limit your engagement with the audience. So I think it will be particularly cool to perform in a cave for a small crowd who are extra stoked to be there. I think we are all going to share a really unique experience.

Touring with Derek W. Curtis will be great too. We met in February this year at the Folk Alliance Festival in Kansas City where he was playing the festival – and so was I, with In With The Old. We just got along instantly, and have kept in touch ever since. He’s been living in Nashville and he mentioned wanting to visit and tour around Canada. When I mentioned I was booking my album release tour across Canada, he said, “I’ll come too!” So we’re going to be spending a whole month touring together within the same car. It’s going to be a great adventure.

Q: Will this be your most unique gig so far?

A: For sure. At first I didn’t realise just how far underground it would be – 100 feet below the earth! It’s going to be cool to crawl through some tight spaces to get down there. Sound equipment will be minimal-to-none, eh?! It will be interesting to see how we get the guitars down there. Adam [Canmore Cave Tours’ Owner and Senior Guide] said it would be difficult if we had an upright bass player, so it will just be Derek and me with our guitars. I think it‘s awesome. Being so physically close to the audience that we don’t need to use microphones is going to make the experience a lot more intimate.

Q: Do you have any experience with caving?

A: I once stayed with some relatives in Peterborough, Ontario, who live near some interesting caves, and I was lucky enough to explore the area with them. It was wintertime so we didn’t go very far down into the depths, but it was a lot of fun and a really unique experience. Now I can’t wait for the full experience at Rat’s Nest!

Q: How does it feel to be launching your new self-titled album, Ellen Froese, in September?

A: I’m pretty excited – it’s been a long time coming! I recorded the album over a year ago but kept pushing the release day back. This is my second album, and I’m approaching things a little differently this time around. With my first album, the recording process just felt a little rushed, so I’m really excited to have had more time to work with on this new one. I recorded it on tape in my cabin. It’s just guitar and vocals, so it’s really stripped down. There’s no over-dubbing – we didn’t go in and correct any little mistakes. It’s not perfect, but that’s the way I wanted it to be, in a type of old-school folk fashion.

There are 12 songs on the album with a few traditional folk songs, and a couple of cover songs that I was really drawn towards and related to. September 13 will be the Saskatoon album release party, and then I’ll be releasing the album online on September 14.

Q: ‘I Wish I Had a Footlong Cigarette’ is the first single from your new album. What’s the story behind it?

I had been playing with In With The Old for four years before I started my solo project. Two winters ago I booked my first solo tour. It was the first time I hit the road on my own, and I booked this month-long tour all the way from Saskatoon to Montreal. There were many long stretches of driving all on my own, and after a while I got super freaking bored with driving. I smoked too many cigarettes out of boredom, and I got to wishing I had one super long cigarette that would last me the whole drive. That’s where the song came from.

It’s probably the most honest song I’ve ever written, and people seem to be drawn to it the most. I wrote it really quickly. I wasn’t trying very hard, compared to other songs I’ve written. It’s funny how that happens – but I guess it makes sense. People are drawn to authenticity, and you’re most authentic when you’re not trying. You can tell when something comes from honesty.

Q: The music video is a lot of fun – where was it filmed and who are the actors?

A: The premise was a van full of hippies just hitting the road, and picking up two golf dads along the way. One of the golf dads gets in with the hippie crew, while the other one doesn’t enjoy it. Then the first guy turns into a cigarette. It was filmed on my parent’s farm, and my friends were the actors; lots of people I met through music. The guy in the blue shirt is my boyfriend, the guy in the yellow overalls is my bandmate from In With The Old, and my best friend Ashley is also in there. I just invited a bunch of friends and these were the ones who came along for the ride!

The guy who filmed it is Landon Johnson. His film career has been blossoming lately and lots of local musicians have been hiring him. He has a really great vision. The video was filmed with a not-so-great camera, but that was exactly the kind of retro vibe what we were going for.

Q: Tell us more about your band, In With The Old. How do you enjoy performing as part of a band compared to gigs as a solo artist? What inspired you to branch out on your own?

A: I’ve learned a lot from being in that band! Working with other people, networking and making contacts has definitely helped my work as a solo artist. It can be challenging sometimes, striking the balance between working as a solo artist and as a member of the band. It can be hard to focus on both at once, but I have truly loved the experience of both.

I think being a solo artist is something I’ve always been drawn to. In With The Old is more bluegrass-inspired because we met at a bluegrass festival, and it just kind of happened without being really intentional about it. Then we just started getting gigs. With my solo work, I’m able to be a lot more intentional about it. Selfishly, I’m able to do exactly what I want with it. I’m really drawn to old school rock and roll. I’ve started to do a few shows with a new band with different members. I’m trying to keep it a little separate because my other bandmates have other projects too. One of them is in a barbershop quartet!

Q: How did music influence you as you were growing up?

A: I grew up on a dairy farm just north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. To this day, my dad always plays the country radio station in the barn for the cows. He says it’s their favourite genre, but I have a feeling he secretly likes it too.

Since I was a home-schooled, only-child farm kid, I had a lot of free time on my hands. When I dig back to my childhood, it’s only good memories. I’d say that my parents took an “un-schooling” approach. There were a lot of homeschool programs that I enjoyed and I was in creative writing and theatre groups. My parents were always self-employed people, so homeschooling meant we could all be together at home. I think they just wanted to spend as much time as possible with me when I was growing up.

I always liked music a tonne. I have really vivid memories of hearing The Beatles and Elvis for the first time when I was about four. I remember listening to Elvis in my dad’s truck, and borrowing CDs from the library. Neither of my parents were particularly musical, but I have to thank them for exposing me to piano lessons when I was four after they noticed my interest in music. I didn’t want to practise piano at first, though – they had to bribe me with candy to play. Then over the years I enjoyed it more and more. Eventually I picked up the guitar when I was 14 and that was something I really loved from day one.

Q: In addition to piano and guitar, which other instruments do you play? Are you a self-taught singer or did you take lessons?

A: I also like to play the harmonica a lot, and I do a little bit of mandolin with In With The Old. We’ve been playing a lot of festivals this summer. In terms of singing, I have had a mix of lessons and self-taught practice. It was a solid two or three years of working really hard on my singing before I felt confident. I just kept pushing through. Eventually I started vocal lessons with my guitar teacher, Danny Downing. Learning proper technique really helped and it was really satisfying to hear myself improve.

Q: What do you enjoy most about making music? How would you describe your creative process?

A: There’s just nothing that makes me happier. It’s my main outlet. I find that if I don’t write a song or perform in a while, I get antsy. I’m thinking about writing songs right now!

It’s my self-expression, but it can be stressful. I just came out of a long period of trying really hard to write songs and not having the results I was hoping for. When I started writing songs and making music, it was just something I created out of happiness. The whole process was completely for myself.

When you start performing, the awareness that people are going to be listening to your songs can influence what you create. I was going through this phase of thinking way too hard about it, and basing my songwriting on what I thought people wanted to hear. I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, so I took a break from it.

I had this big learning curve that I just have to do it for myself, and now I think I’m finally back on track. I feel like it just has to be authentic, and if I try too hard to be authentic it just defeats the purpose. I have heard that a lot of musicians go through this phase: starting out by writing for themselves, then starting to write more for what they think people want to hear, before coming back full circle just to what they want to create.

Q: Is there a particular place that is most conducive for your songwriting? Somewhere that you think: “this is where the magic happens!”

A: When a wave of inspiration hits, the music and lyrics usually both come at once. I strum a few chords, hum a bit of a melody and it slowly comes to life. It usually happens in my cabin at home on the farm, when people aren’t around. I’ve never successfully written a song with someone else. There’s a lot of trial and error, and I would feel quite vulnerable. I love performing with others but I really like songwriting alone. It’s almost like journaling. I write my best songs when I’ve experienced a really strong emotion, rather than just experiencing a level mood – that’s when I like to practise.

Q: What does the rest of 2017 look like for you?

A: I’m looking forward to kicking off my album release tour with Derek, and also touring with In With The Old for three music festivals and gigs in August and September. Right now I’m still living on my parent’s farm where I grew up, but I’ll be moving out this winter. I don’t know where to just yet, but I think there’s lots of change on the horizon!

Only 24 spectators will get the chance to see this one-off performance, so don't miss out, get your tickets now!

More Info & Booking

More Info & Booking

Upcoming Events

unEarthed | Music

Ellen Froese & Derek Curtis

Ellen Froese and Derek Curtis perform in the Grand Gallery at Rat's Nest Cave

Sept 29, 2017

Ellen and Derek take us on a musical adventure of a lifetime - over 100 feet underground!

More Info & Booking

Testimonials

We think caving is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread, but then we are pretty enthusiastic about life underground overall. So don't just take our word on it. Here are some thoughts from some of our newsest cavers to inspire you!

Review by Mo89564

“AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE”

Reviewed By: Mo89564
Mar 27, 2017:

"My husband and I both look back at this and agree this was one of the highlights of our vacation..."

Read More
Review by Kristen B.

“BEST ADVENTURE”

Reviewed By: Kristen B
Sept 4, 2016:

"Had a great time exploring the Rats Nest Caves with Canmore Cave Tours. "

Read More
Review by Michelle L.

“BEST TOUR IN THE BOW VALLEY AREA!”

Reviewed By: Michelle L
Feb 13, 2017:

"I've been on several tours in the Bow Valley area and this is by far the best tour I've been to, hands down."

Read More
Review by David M.

“EXCITING CAVE ADVENTURE!”

Reviewed By: David M
Aug 20, 2016:

"We went to Canmore for my birthday and came across Canmore Cave Tours in our search for something fun to do. We were not disappointed!"

Read More

Explore the Rat's Nest Cave Map

Cave Entrance
Entrance to the Cave

In winter, fixed ropes aid access to the entrance.

Bushy-Tailed Wood Rats
The Bushy Tailed Wood Rat

The cave is named after these critters, which make their homes close to the entrance.

The Grand Gallery
The Grand Gallery

This is the largest room in the cave

The Laundry Chute
The Laundry Chute

Visit this amazing squeeze on our Adventure tour

The Bacon Strip
The Bacon Strip

See this ancient formation on our Adventure tour

The Grotto
The Grotto Pool

This is where our cave divers brave the unknown, and 'push' the cave. Visited by both the: Adventure tour and Explorer tour.

  • Cave Entrance
    Entrance to the Cave

    In winter, fixed ropes aid access to the entrance.

  • Bushy-Tailed Wood Rats
    The Bushy Tailed Wood Rat

    The cave is named after these critters, which make their homes close to the entrance.

  • The Grand Gallery
    The Grand Gallery

    This is the largest room in the cave

  • The Laundry Chute
    The Laundry Chute

    Visit this amazing squeeze on our Adventure tour

  • The Bacon Strip
    The Bacon Strip

    See this ancient formation on our Adventure tour

  • The Grotto
    The Grotto Pool

    This is where our cave divers brave the unknown, and 'push' the cave. Visited by both the: Adventure tour and Explorer tour.

    Our Partners and Friends

    We work with a number of like-minded experience providers to help you find your next great adventure.

    Book your pre or post-caving activities here, or Contact Us and we'd be happy to help.

    Canmore Raft Tours
    Kananaskis Outfitters
    Boundary Ranch
    Mad Dogs & Englishman
    Calgary River Experience
    Get Outside Adventures
    Mukwah Rafting
    Mahikan Trails
    Wild Life Distillery
    Bow Valley Stand Up Paddle Boarding