While many head to British Columbia in the fall in search of snowy mountain slopes, there are also plenty of excursions below the earth’s surface that are worth checking out. At Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, unique crystal formations, fossils and underground waterways are on display in the highest concentration of caves in North America. With more than 450 square miles of karst and limestone caverns on the island, there are many opportunities to embark on your first spelunking adventure.
Above and below the surface, numerous programs at Horne Lake have educated visitors about cave ecology since its inception in 1971. With tours ranging from one to five hours, visitors can explore the Main Cave or delve deeper to rappel down a seven-story waterfall in the Riverbend Cave. The visitor center explains the history of the underground world while highlighting the low-impact processes that are crucial to safeguarding the natural integrity of the area.
Because the caves stay at the same chilly temperature (47°F) year-round, a visitor should come prepared with solid hiking shoes and warm, non-cotton clothes. Backpacks are not allowed below ground, but hip pouches and fanny packs are recommended for carrying food and cameras. Reservations for tours are recommended, and gear is provided. Rock-climbing, canoeing and camping are all available at Horne Lake.
For more information on the caves, go to hornelake.com. To plan your Vancouver Island travels, go to hellobc.com/vancouver-island.aspx.