Summer Activities: Explore the world beneath the Canadian Rockies in Banff's Rat's Nest Tour

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Written by bike posted on Monday, February 15th, 2010

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BANFF, Alberta – In the Canadian Rockies, what’s underground can be just as exciting and interesting as what’s above ground. A tour through Rat’s Nest Cave will show you what we mean.

This isn’t just a small cavern in the side of a hill. You’ll be crawling through twists and turns, through passages carved by water over thousands of years. It’s a different world down here, but it’s just as beautiful as the world above, and it’s well worth exploring.

There’s no car ride up to the opening, either. Ha! You’ll begin with a half-hour’s hike through pine forests and canyons to reach the cave’s entrance. Once there, your guide will provide caving equipment for you and go over safety regulations. Then you’re off, into the cave itself.

From the moment you enter, your guide will give you a fully interpretive natural history of your surroundings. As you journey into the twisting passageways, you’ll come across large underground chambers and even a pool grotto. If you’ve never been down a cave before, don’t worry about it; your guide is well-trained and experienced, and will gladly help you along.

That caving equipment includes a helmet, headlamp, coveralls, kneepads, gloves and a backpack. You yourself must remember to wear proper footgear – light hiking boots or sturdy walking/running shoes – and wear warm, old clothing. You’re going to get dirty down there! And the cave is always a chilly 5 degrees celsius (41 fahrenheit). Also, be sure to bring plenty of water for before and after the caving, and a supply of granola/energy bars to keep you going.

You have to be at least 9 years old to take this tour, and it is geared for the physically fit. The less demanding version of this tour requires walking, crawling, and other forms of physical exertion. If you’re looking for a more adventurous excursion, you may also choose to explore the “laundry chute,” a vertical shaft down which you rappel along a 60-foot rope.

The tour departs at 9 a.m. From Sobeys Grocery in Canmore. It does not include transportation from further locations such as Banff and Jasper.

For more information on this cave exploration, call 1-877-565-9372.

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