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contains over one thousand mysterious subterranean caves and tunnels,
offering spelunkers a challenging underground maze of cathedrals
and corridors, bones and skulls, mineral formations and ancient
the Island's underworld!
a headlamp and willingly descending into the murky, unmapped bowels
of the earth is your thing, then spelunking on Vancouver Island
will thrill you to the core!
all 100 or so of them, are located about 17 km west of Gold
River, on Head Bay Forest Rd. They provide an awe-inspiring
adventure for those who like to explore the interior of the earth.
There are fifteen known entrances within the system. The combined
length of cave passages is approximately 450 meters (1 475 feet).
The individual caves vary in size from single rooms to branching
passages of considerable length. The overall passage and room dimensions
are comparable with those of other Vancouver Island caves. Dress
warmly, as these caves, the deepest north of Mexico, extend more
than 2,000 feet (610 m) into the honeycombed limestone rock. You
can take a self-guided tour through a network of caves or join a
guided tour. For an even deeper adventure, join a guided tour of
the "White Ridge" caverns. Cavers named the system for the river
that flows through one of the caves. The underground sequences of
the television series, Huckleberry Finn and His Friends, were filmed
at the cave - Gold River is home to the B.C. Speleological Association.
There are about 1 050 known caves on Vancouver Island. Most of these
caves are found in the Quatsino Formation limestone deposits of
Northern Vancouver Island..
Cave Park, nestled in the Nimpkish Valley near Port
McNeill, offers visitors a chance to view the fascinating Quatsino
System - a network of caves that honeycomb Vancouver Island between
here and the Strathcona Provincial Park/Gold River region. If you've
never experienced the sensation of spending time underground, it's
like mountaineering in the dark with the sight of a smooth, white
world revealed in the beam of your headlamp. Cave climates are damp
and clammy, so dress accordingly. Little Huson's caves are a good
place to begin caving or even to begin considering the possibility.
A short trail leads from the parking lot to a view of several caves
through which the Atluck River bores.
Lake Caves, is located north of Qualicum
Beach - a gravel road leads to the parking area and trailhead
at the far end of Horne Lake, about 14 km west of Hwy 19A. You
can take a self-guided tour of Main Cave and Lower Main Caves throughout
Although the distance covered isn't great, you'll have to bend,
duck, and squeeze your way through a series of narrow passages.
A footbridge spans the Qualicum River, from where a rough limestone
trail leads to the Main Cave. If you're here in summer, plan on
joining the challenging Karst Trail and Riverbend Trail tours, which
last about two hours. Tours leave the trailhead on the hour between
10am and 4pm.
No matter when
you arrive, prepare yourself for a tour by dressing warmly, wearing
sturdy boots, and carrying a bright flashlight. (Helmets and lights
are provided on guided tours). For those with a lust to squeeze
deeper into the cave system, the three-to-four-hour Riverbed Bottoming
trip leads down through a series of vertical pits, the deepest of
which is nearly 19
There are several hundred significant caves to explore on the island,
including Karst Creek Trail in Strathcona
Provincial Park. A fascinating look at weathering appears along
this trail, which begins beside the picnic area on the east side
of Buttle Lake. New caves and unusual land formations are being
discovered all the time, especially in the North Islands region
where amazing natural oddities such as the Artlish River Caves,
the Quatsino Limestone Formation, Devil's Bath, Eternal Fountain,
and Disappearing River are located. The longest cave on Vancouver
Island is Thanksgiving cave with a mapped length of 7.6 km (4.7
miles). Several other island caves exceed 2 km (1.2 miles) in length.
Keen to spelunk further? For the more ambitious and adventurous
souls, wild cave tours can be arranged to larger and more dramatic
North Vancouver Island cave systems, with unique surface and subsurface
features. Local Info Centres provide details and maps and make suggestions
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Services in BC
Canada - The Canadian Caving and Karst Information server