The 10 Best Caves to Explore in Canada
Some of nature’s most awe-inspiring wonders can be found underground. These great Canadian caves—one in every province—reward the curious with an experience that's truly unique.
The Best Cave Exploring in Every Province
Horne Lake Caves, British Columbia
Few people realize North America’s highest concentration of caves lies on Vancouver Island. Home to over 1,600 known caves, you can explore four of them on a visit to Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park. Tours operated by Horne Lake Caves and Outdoor Centre offer challenges by choice, where you decide if you’re up for crawling through the beautiful passageways in search of crystal formations and ancient fossils. Open year-round at a constant temperature of 8°C (46°F), highlights include cable ladders, crossing over underground streams and (optional) tiny crawl spaces.
Cave and Basin, Alberta
When three railway workers stumbled upon this cave in 1883, it set about a course of events that would culminate in the creation of Canada’s first national park. (Of course, Indigenous peoples had known about this cave for hundreds of years prior.) Cave and Basin is now a recognized National Historic Site situated in Banff National Park. Visitors can explore the cave, filled with mineral-rich thermal water, but for swimming, they take to the waters of Banff Upper Hot Springs.
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Rat’s Nest Cave, Alberta
Canmore Cave Tours has exclusive access to Rat’s Nest Cave, about an hour’s drive from Calgary. A designated Provincial Historic Site, this cave takes you through 300-million years of natural history and some 3,000 years of human history. Guided cave exploring tours operate year-round and involve catch-and-release fossil hunting, plus wildlife education and tracking. You’re sure to spot animal bones and pictographs made by early Indigenous peoples while you trek underground.
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Outlaw Caves, Saskatchewan
Back when the West truly was wild, rum runners and horse thieves needed a secure hiding spot to dodge the law—ideally with close access to the border. Natural caves made an ideal hiding spot and Big Muddy Badlands, just outside of Coronach, Saskatchewan was a preferred spot for outlaws back in the day. On full- and half-day tours from May to October, visitors can not only examine the hideout, but also learn about the early Indigenous peoples who lived in the region for thousands of years, as evidenced by the remaining tipi rings.
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Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba
Not far from the Ontario border lies a haven for outdoor adventurers. Part of the rugged Precambrian Shield, Whiteshell Provincial Park is home to two caves of distinction. With picturesque views of the lake and refreshing swimming holes, there are many highlights along the Hunt Lake Trail. The most popular attraction along the route, however, is the tiny cave inside a vertical rock wall. With trees poking their way through the rocks, it makes for a pretty spectacular photo opp.
Accessible by boat are the Caddy Lake Tunnels, created when engineers blasted through granite for the railway. Though technically not caves (because they receive direct sunlight), these caverns are simply spectacular and can easily be visited by renting a canoe or kayak from the Green Bay Resort on Lake Caddy.
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Scenic Caves, Ontario
Carved out of glacial ice and dating back 450-million years, the Scenic Caves in Ontario’s Blue Mountains are a network of caverns and lookout points formerly inhabited by Tionontati Indigenous peoples, explorer Samuel de Champlain and even the Jesuits. Self-guided tours take visitors along a trail dotted with signage explaining how the caves were used for different purposes. The first cave you’ll come across is a natural refrigerator thanks to the steady flow of cold air, while the cave next to it is dubbed the “ice cave,” with deep crevices that could store snow and ice all year long. Fern Cavern is where you’ll find exotic vegetation. After cave exploring, stroll along southern Ontario’s longest suspension bridge or hit the zip lines for an adrenaline jolt.
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Laflèche Cavern, Quebec
The largest natural cave in the Canadian Shield is located in Arbraska Laflèche Park, about a two hour drive from Ottawa. The park is riddled with invigorating outdoor experiences that range from the tops of trees to deep underground. And underground is where anyone over the age of five is welcome to go year-round on cave exploring tours. After clambering up the chimney (that’s caving lingo for a steep, narrow climb) and crouching through low passageways, you’ll marvel at the frozen stalactites and stalagmites—and too many hibernating bats to count.
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St. Martins Sea Caves, New Brunswick
The tides that flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world. This significant tidal action has carved deep fissures and crevasses into the cliffs hugging New Brunswick’s Fundy coastline, leading to the formation of St. Martins sandstone sea caves. A haven for rockhounds, birdwatchers and nature lovers, these impressive natural grottos are best explored at low tide, so be sure to consult a tide chart to gauge the best time of day to walk the ocean floor.
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Ovens Natural Park, Nova Scotia
Not far from Lunenburg on Nova Scotia’s southern shore lies Ovens Natural Park. During the summer season, visitors can follow the cliffside trails to view the stunning sea caves. Many of these jagged caverns were formed naturally, but some were expanded by dynamite during the 1861 gold rush. On guided one-hour tours, you’ll dive deep into the park’s coastal environment and dramatic geology, in addition to learning about the region’s surprising gold rush history.
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Corner Brook, Newfoundland
The west coast of Newfoundland is a trove of natural wonders and the Corner Brook Caves are no exception. Tours with Cycle Solutions allow cave explorers aged eight and up to experience this subterranean world. For the adventurous sort, there are small passages to squeeze into, while those new to spelunking will appreciate the large passageways, where you can walk fully upright as you admire the natural cathedrals. If you fancy swimming in an underground steam, you’ll want to bring your bathing suit!
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