We can't tell you how excited we are that you are considering joining us on the Explorer Tour. We want to ensure that your experience is the best it can possibly be, so below you'll find what we believe to be the most important imformation you'll need to prepare for your tour.
The Explorer Tour may be our shortest cave tour, but it is by no means short on fun and excitement. Your guide will introduce you to the amazing world of caves, spending approximately 2 hours underground crawling past prehistoric bones, investigating our ancient cave formations and even squeezing into places like the warm-up and challenge squeezes (if you so choose of course!).
This is a great option for families with younger members, for large groups, team building or those who don’t have quite enough time for the Adventure Tour. We promise to give you an experience you won’t forget!
You will meet your guide and the rest of your team at the Canmore Cave Tours Office in Canmore to sign the waiver and collect your caving equipment. You will then follow the guide in convoy for a 10 minute drive to the cave parking lot where you’ll pack up your caving gear then hike for 30 minutes up a mountain trail to the cave entrance.
Along the trail, your guide will share with you some of the incredible history of the Bow Valley. You will discuss how caves are formed, the geologic history of the area, discover and examine some of our local fossils, and much more. Make sure to keep an eye out for bighorn sheep and maybe even signs of a bear or a cougar. Inside the cave, you’ll get to climb, crawl, wiggle and slide your way through water-worn passages. Your route through the cave will include "the Box”, the Five Way Chamber, the Grand Gallery and finally to the Grotto. This beautiful room is the lowest point on the tour, but also one of the highlights with its crystal clear pool and walls covered in stalactites and stalagmites.View and Download the Waiver
|Tour Start Time||Meet your guide at the Canmore Cave Tours office.|
|20 min||Follow guide in convoy to cave parking lot.|
|30 min||Pack up equipment and begin hiking.|
|1 hr||Arrive at cave entrance, safety de-brief and gear up|
|1 hr 30 min||Let’s go Caving!|
|4 hr||Emerge victoriously from the cave - celebratory high-five!|
|4 hr 30 min||Arrive at cave parking lot and depart|
**Times given are the approximate time from the start of the tour
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 minimum age for the Explorer Tour is 10 years.
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.
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.
Yes, but only up until the end of the first trimester (12 weeks).
It is always advisable to seek advice from your doctor when participating in activities like caving.
Yes, all participants will need to complete a liability waiver. We recommend you review the waiver before booking your tour, but you will sign the waiver once you have arrived and have been briefed by your guide. Any minors must have their waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian before participating on the tour.View and Download the Waiver
It's as easy as 1-2-3! Simply select the date and tour time that you'd like to reserve, fill in your personal details and then make payment via credit card. That's it!
The system will automatically send you a confirmation of your tour with the relevant details and it will even send you a reminder two days before your tour so you don't forget!
We're always happy to help answer your questions and choose the best experience. We can also recommend other great activities or restaurants to compliment your cave tour.Contact Us
In celebration of everything Wild, and in support of Canmore's newest festival, on October 15th we will be offering a limited number of spots on our Explorer Tour for just $15. That's not a typo.
We are hosting two other exciting events as part of Wild:
"My husband and I both look back at this and agree this was one of the highlights of our vacation..."Read More
“AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE”
Reviewed By: Mo89564
Mar 27, 2017:
My husband and I used Canmore as a base for exploring Banff, but since I was curious about the area and the things to see/do, the Canmore Cave Tour (Grotto Mountain/Rat's Nest Cave) popped up when I was researching the area.
I decided to book this after I saw the pictures and read other people's experiences. We met our guide at the office in the morning that was very personable but clearly knew her stuff and was passionate about caving. We were in a group of about 8 which was nice - small, but nice to talk to others and everyone definitely looked out for each other during the experience.
Hiked up to the entrance and went in! This was where the awesomeness began. It is a physical and mental challenge - but so rewarding. You'll be crawling through sections, rappelling down into the dark and learning about the history. You'll be seeing things that very few people get to see. My husband and I both look back at this and agree this was one of the highlights of our vacation - and we're comparing this against the heavyweights known as Banff and Jasper.
Advice to anyone considering this:
-You don't have to be in pristine physical condition, but you should have a good base. It is a physical activity and you will be using muscles that you don't know you had.
-The squeezes weren't claustrophobic to me as a 5'8 135 lbs. female. My husband is 5'11 190 lbs and had no problem. A guy on our tour was even bigger than my husband, probably over 6'0 and 200 lbs and had no problems maneuvering. Your guide will give you the honest truth whether you're able to do things and if you can't or are apprehensive, you don't have to! But challenge yourself. You'll be surprised and it is a lot easier than you think.
-Enjoy that room with the stream running through it. It blows my mind what is underneath the ground that we walk on now that I've been under it.
-After your tour, buy the "Rat's Nest Cave" book by Charles Yonge. I meant to buy it once our tour was finished, but completely forgot and ended up getting the book through Amazon. It's full of history and science but has much more value. I personally keep it on my coffee table and when my friends/guests come over, it's a convenient excuse for me to segway into to how awesome the cave tour was and reminisce about being underground. That's how much I loved this tour. There are very few opportunities in this world to experience this kind of thing - don't let them pass you by.
"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
“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. Our tour guide, Max, was super friendly, knowledgeable, a great communicator with each member of our diverse group, and seemed genuinely interested in what he does.
We started the Adventure tour by meeting at the tour office at 10:15 a.m. Once we were given an introduction and gear, we drove our separate cars to the trail-head (about 5 min drive from the office). The hike up is about 30 min and continuously uphill, but the guide is really good about taking several breaks in between to allow people to catch their breath. Once we got to the end of the trail, we removed layers as needed and dropped off our bags.
The tour lasted a full 4 hours underground. We rappelled 16 stories to get to the base of the cave, crawled through several optional crevices, explored in the dark, and learnt a lot about the formation of the cave. The options to crawl through small spaces was my favourite part. Some spaces were so small that you had to lay down and use your forearms and legs to drag yourself through them.
Overall, incredible tour. Worth every single penny. Great for the adventurous. If you're doing one tour in Banff/Canmore, do this one over any others.
Tips: Clothing (winter): wear several layers. The hike up can be cold but the cave is 5 degrees Celsius. You'll have the opportunity to delayer before entering the cave. Wear thick socks and hiking boots (or some sturdy winter boots that are good for walking). You are provided an full body coverall, knee pads, and gloves, so take these into consideration as well.
You need to be in good/average physical condition to hike to the cave and be okay with being on your hands and knees. You don't have to crawl through the tiny spaces if you don't want to because there are other paths available.
Food: You are given a cliff bar and water bottle to keep. Since you will be crawling a bit, you do not bring your backpack or water bottle down with you. I advise bringing a small snack that can fit in your pockets to bring with you into the cave. There are no washrooms in the cave (duh), so make sure to go beforehand.