Detailed Trip Descriptions & Difficulty Ratings

It is important to understand the challenges and difficulty ratings for the tour you are choosing. It’s just as important to consider the other members of your party before you make your booking.

Also be familiar with What To Wear for your cave tour.

NOTE: If you are the person making the booking, you have an obligation to communicate this information to all others in your party.

Riverbend Cave Explorer Tour (easiest but not necessarily easy)

Challenge Rating ✦✦✧✧✧
  • ages 5+ only (age requirement not an age recommendation)
  • approx. 1 hr. 45 min. duration (1hr in the cave)
  • good footwear and long clothing recommended – No flip-flops or crocs
  • cave temperature is 8 degrees Celsius (46 deg. F)
  • Includes a moderately strenuous UPHILL hike for 1km to reach the cave entrance. The surface trail has an average grade of 15 degrees and is broken up by 7 informative stops for brief rest periods.
  • There are steep metal stairs into the entrance of Riverbend Cave, then it is WILD Terrain with no walk ways, hand railings or lamps lining the walls.
  • Explorers must travel over loose and sometimes slippery rocks
  • Travelling through cave requires being agile enough to bend over and use rocks at knee height for balance. Should be able to walk in a crouched position. 
  • tours usually include a short “lights-out” session
  • return to Visitor Centre via another steep downhill surface trail.
  • no backpacks allowed in cave
  • please arrive 30 min. early to gear-up and sign Liability Waivers 
horne lake caves

Multi – Cave Explorer (moderate)

Challenge Rating ✦✦✦✧✧
  • ages 8+ only (except on custom Private Tours 5+)
  • approx. 2.5 hrs. duration
  • solid footwear and long clothing recommended
  • cave temperature is 8 degrees Celsius (46 deg. F)
  • Travelling through cave requires being agile enough to bend over and use rocks at knee height for balance. Should be able to walk in a crouched position. 
  • participants will likely get a bit wet on days with moderate water flow
  • includes a moderately strenuous UPHILL trail for 1km. (25 mins.), broken up by 7 informative stops
  • steep metal stairs at the entrance to Riverbend Cave
  • Participants will negotiate some tight passages, downhill slides and ladders, short climbs (up to 2.5 metres high), lots of cave scrambling and travel over WET, loose rocks and slippery walls
  • a steep downhill trail leads to additional caves
  • Main Cave has a narrow, vertical entrance squeeze 12 inches wide at stomach height. A side stepping shuffle for a few steps  that a vast majority of people can fit through. More of a mental hurdle than a physical impossibility. 
  • option to climb three short waterfalls (each approx. 2m. high)
  • to descend from top of waterfalls, participants must negotiate a ramp, a cave-slide and 2 ladders
  • tours usually include a short “lights-out” session
  • no backpacks allowed in cave
  • please arrive 30 min. early to gear-up and sign Liability Waivers

IN Fall/Winter – Although not required, you’ll be more comfortable when the water levels are moderate if you bring:

  • waterproof or rubber boots with warm socks (Rubber Boot Rentals for $6 available)
  • rain gear or nylon outer shell
  • thin hat under helmet and gloves (available for purchase at the Visitor Centre)
  • AVOID JEANS or other cotton clothes
  • complete change of clothes for afterward
  • a fun attitude

Achilles Challenge (more challenging)

Challenge Rating ✦✦✦✦ (must be fit enough to climb hills and vertical ladders) 
  • Ages 13+
  • approximately 4 hrs duration
  • Rubber Boots highly recommended! (Rentals available for $6 or bring your own)
  • Tour Must Have At Least 2 Participants to Run (Max of 6)
  • please arrive 30 min. early to gear-up and sign Liability Waivers 
  • cave temperature is 8 degrees Celsius (46 deg. F)
  • warm clothing required (2 layers min.). Avoid cotton jeans or shirts. Recommend nylon or poly-pro pants, shirt, sweater / jacket
  • good solid footwear  like running shoes or boots is MANDATORY. No flip-flops or crocs
  • nice to have kneepads, gardening gloves and a warm hat or toque in case you get cold
  • no backpacks allowed in cave
  • bring an energy bar or easy to eat snack that fits in your pocket
  • includes a moderately strenuous UPHILL trail for 1km. (25 mins.), broken up by 5 informative stops
  • steep metal stairs at the entrance to Riverbend Cave
  • explorers must navigate in  the cave over loose and slippery rocks
  • explorers must pass through 3 crawl passages (kneepads are available), about the same size as crawling under a picnic table. 1st belly crawl is 1.5 body-lengths, 2nd crawlway is a mix of hands and knees and belly crawling and is 4 or 5 body lengths, 3rd crawlway is 1.5body lengths of belly crawling and 1 body-length of hands and knees. 
  • the guide will drain a submerged section of the cave (a crawl known as “the siphon”) in order for explorers to crawl into the second half of Riverbend Cave. This may take up to 20minutes for the water to drain, giving enough time for a nice “lights out session”.
  • this trip does not require any rappelling, but does require negotiating 2 different rope stations starting with a downclimb of 5.5 metres (17ft), and then climbing down a 15ft Cable Ladder. 
  • Returning to the surface requires re-tracing your steps, climbing back up all the vertical drops, back through “the siphon” and the crawlways.
  • return to Visitor Centre via a steep downhill trail
  • max. harness size: WAIST =114 cms. (45 inches). THIGH = 69 cms. (27 inches)

Max Depth Adventure Cave Tour (most challenging – Not for the faint of heart!)

Challenge Rating ✦✦✦✦✦ (must be fit enough to climb hills and vertical ladders) 
  • Ages 13+ (Minors under 19 years of age must have a responsible adult accompanying them)
  • Approximately 6hrs duration including 1hr min outdoor rappelling demo/practice prior to tour. Around 4hrs 15 minutesis spent in cave. Some “emergency toilet bags” are available if necessary.
  • Rubber Boots highly recommended! (Rentals available for $6 or bring your own)
  • Tour Must Have At Least 2 Participants to Run (Max of 6)
  • please arrive 30 min. early to gear-up and sign Liability Waivers 
  • cave temperature is 8 degrees Celsius (46 deg. F)
  • warm clothing required (2 layers min.). Avoid cotton jeans or shirts. Recommend nylon or poly-pro pants, shirt, sweater / jacket
  • good solid footwear  like running shoes or boots is MANDATORY. No flip-flops or crocs
  • includes a moderately strenuous UPHILL trail for 1km. (25 mins.), broken up by 5 informative stops
  • steep metal stairs at the entrance to Riverbend Cave
  • explorers must navigate in  the cave over loose and slippery rocks
  • explorers must pass through 3 crawl passages (kneepads are available), about the same size as crawling under a picnic table. 1st belly crawl is 1.5 body-lengths, 2nd crawlway is a mix of hands and knees and belly crawling and is 4 or 5 body lengths, 3rd crawlway is 1.5body lengths of belly crawling and 1 body-length of hands and knees. 
  • the guide will drain a submerged section of the cave (a crawl known as “the siphon”) in order for explorers to crawl into the second half of Riverbend Cave. This may take up to 20minutes for the water to drain, giving enough time for a nice “lights out session”.
  • this trip requires negotiating 5 different rope stations starting with a rappel of 5.5 metres, (17 ft.), climbing down a 5m. (15 ft.) cable ladder followed by a 8 metre (25 ft.) traverse line then a 21 metre (68 ft.) rappel, always secured by rope.
  • Returning to the surface requires re-tracing your steps back up all the vertical drops, back through “the siphon” and the crawlways
  • tours usually include a  short “lights-out” session
  • return to Visitor Centre via a steep downhill trail
  • max. harness size: WAIST =114 cms. (45 inches). THIGH = 69 cms. (27 inches)a
  • nice to have kneepads, gardening gloves and a warm hat or toque in case you get cold
  • no backpacks allowed in cave
  • bring an energy bar or easy to eat snack that fits in your pocket