Ever wanted to star in your own action movie, or try meditating in absolute blackness? How about proposing to that special someone in one of the most unique ways possible? Solitude is the opportunity to create your own custom cave experience.
The cave is a special place and spending time underground can be a life-changing experience. It's an opportunity to push your limits and face your fears, or learn new skills. It is a unique venue to embrace your creative side with music or the visual arts. Or perhaps it's a time to disconnect and enjoy the peacefulness of absolute quiet and darkness. With Solitude, it's exactly what you need it to be.
Solitude means you have the entire cave to yourself. Just you, your guide and the cave. This gives us the ability to create a fully customized experience that is limited only by your imagination:
Prior to your tour your guide will contact you to get a sense of how best to spend your time in the cave. Nothing is set in stone and you will always have the opportunity to adjust your goals as you go. If you are hoping to bring in any special equipment like cameras or musical instruments, or if you want to plan a special event like an engagement, this is your chance to work through the logistics with your guide.
On the day of your tour you will meet your guide 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.
From this point forward the experience is yours to create based on what you and your guide have discussed. You will spend up to 4 hours underground making memories that are not to soon be forgotten!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!|
|5 hr 30min||Emerge victoriously from the cave - celebratory high-five!|
|6 hr||Arrive at cave parking lot and depart|
**Times given are the approximate time from the start of the tour
With Solitude it's just you, your guide and the cave. We will not add anyone else to your tour and you will have the whole cave to yourself. This allows us the flexibility to fully customize your experience based on your interests.
Do you love adventure? We can explore every possible nook and cranny or do multiple laps on the rappel. Or how about trying your hand at cave photography? You will have plenty of time to set up that perfect shot. Maybe you're musically inclined and want to try playing in the majestic Grand Gallery. (We can even arrange for a professional sound engineer to record for you)
There are too many options to list, but you get the idea.
The minimum age for Solitude is 10 years. For some activities in the cave, like rappelling, the minimum age is 12. We will work with you to create an experience that suits the abilities and needs of everyone in your group.
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, 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.
Solitude allows us the option to bring specialty equipment like instruments and professional cameras into the cave. Your guide will speak with you about your ideas to determine what is possible and appropriate. Please keep in mind that the cave environment is not particularly friendly towards electronics and delicate instruments. High humidity and dust can damage equipment, and screens can break if you accidentally sit on them. Any extra equipment should we protected for travel through the cave and is brought into the cave 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!
Once we receive your confirmation your guide will contact you to work out the details of your Solitude experience. Please ensure to include your phone number and e-mail address when booking, as well as the preferred time for us to contact you.
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
"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.