Are you looking for an adventure? Consider taking up spelunking instead of a regular hike. Ontario boasts some incredible caves that are sure to leave you awestruck. Whether you want to do an intense self-guided exploration or take a tour on a more accessible walking trail, there are plenty of options to experience caving in a way that’s right for you. Just make sure to wear a good pair of hiking shoes—and don’t forget your flashlight.
Scenic Caves Nature Adventures in Blue Mountains, Ont.
Scenic Caves Nature Adventures is situated on a UNESCO heritage site and has 15 km of trails to explore. Visitors must pay an admission fee to enter the park, and proper footwear such as running shoes or hiking shoes is required for entry. Admission includes access to the caves, hiking trails, Southern Ontario’s longest suspension bridge, and more. Cave trails are self-guided, allowing you to explore at your own pace. With various family-oriented activities and children’s play areas available, visiting Scenic Caves Nature Adventures is a great way to spend a day outdoors with the whole family.
Bonnechere Caves in Eganville, Ont.
Family-owned and operated for over 55 years, Bonnechere Caves is a great stop for those who want to go on a guided tour—it’s the only way to explore the cave system, so be prepared to go in as part of a group when you visit. Bonnechere Caves also runs many events during the summer, some of which you can still catch! Join the Bonnechere Museum for one of their many group activities or attend a concert in the caves featuring local musicians. Bonnechere Caves is open until early October, so there’s still plenty of time to plan your visit before the season is over.
Bruce’s Caves Conservation Area in Wiarton, Ont.
Located northeast of Sauble Beach, Bruce’s Caves is home to stunning rock formations formed between seven and eight thousand years ago. Visitors to the conservation area can expect natural marvels from grand cavernous spaces to waterfalls and are sure to be rewarded with great views and plenty of areas to explore. Be prepared to pay for parking at the entrance to the conservation area, which costs 10 dollars.
Rockwood Conservation Area near Guelph, Ont.
With tons of glacial potholes and caves full of stalactites, rock columns, and flowstone, visitors to Rockwood Conservation Area will not be disappointed. Grand River Conservation Authority recommends that people who plan on exploring the caves wear long sleeves and pants and bring a helmet and a flashlight. Since bats hibernate in the caves during the winter months, the caves are closed from mid-October to April. You can also enjoy a wide range of other activities at Rockwood Conservation Area, like paddling, swimming at the sandy beach, and fishing, which makes it a great place for a day trip or overnight camping.
Warsaw Caves Conservation Area in Warsaw, Ont.
Warsaw Caves Conservation Area is for those looking to do some heavy-duty exploration. Check out this handy spelunker’s guide to the Warsaw Caves, which maps out all of the different entrances to the cave network and gives tips on how to access them. The regular hiking trails are just as exciting, offering views of the area’s characteristic limestone bedrock and interesting rock formations such as kettles. Other activities available in the area include canoeing, kayaking, and camping. You’ll have to pay admission to the conservation area, but then you’re free to explore as you please.
Greig’s Caves in Lion’s Head, Ont.
Another self-guided cave trail, Greig’s Caves has around 10 limestone caves that are relatively easy to access, making this a good option for families. The site also has a lookout with great views of Georgian Bay. Before you visit, be aware that you’ll need to sign a waiver to enter the area and pay a cash-only admission fee. Greig’s Caves is open until Thanksgiving.
Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves in Belleville, Ont.
Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves is another family-run business, and it offers tours of an underground cave in the Bay of Quinte area. It’s one of the more accessible caverns to explore—visitors can expect stairs, concrete floors, and lighting throughout the tour. Guests will learn about how the cavern was formed, the practice of spelunking, geological rock formations, and how a site like this is preserved. Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves also has a fossil exhibit with specimens up to 450 million years old. Reservations can be booked online in advance.
The Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park in Tobermory, Ont.
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a mermaid, the Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park will be well worth a visit. The hike to The Grotto takes around 45 minutes and is full of tall cedar trees and plant life. Within the cave is a gorgeous turquoise pool—be sure to wear a bathing suit in case you want to swim. The Grotto is a hugely popular tourist attraction in the summer months, so expect that you probably won’t be the only ones visiting. You’ll need to book your parking for the Grotto ahead of time to secure your spot, as there is no other way to access this part of the park.
Eramosa Karst Conservation Area in Stoney Creek, Ont.
Home to a cave that is 335 metres long and full of unique karst formations, Eramosa Karst Conservation Area is another good option for those looking to explore at their own pace. With trails that are well-marked and easy to walk, this is one of the more accessible areas to see some caves and is a must-see spot for those exploring hiking trails in the Hamilton area. Eramosa Karst Conservation Area is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the week and requires a small parking fee for entry.