For an experience under this world, visitors shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit Cody Caves Provincial Park in the Selkirk Mountains, on the west side of Kootenay Lake.
Open mid-June to mid-September, depending on the condition of the road, this unique park is dedicated to preserving a cave system and an underground stream flowing through ancient limestone formations. Cody Caves Provincial Park also has an outside display, a day-use area, and some hiking trails.
Due to the extremely delicate nature of the cave formations, and to protect the inexperienced caver, the underground experience is available by guided tour only. Cave tours usually depart on the hour with the first tour at 10 am, and the last tour at 4 pm daily, from July 1 to the end of August. Helmets, headlamps and gloves are provided at the cave mouth. Visitors must come equipped with sturdy outdoor footwear and warm clothing.
The caves in the Cody Caves System are fascinating. About 875 yards (800 metres) of passageways are explorable, revealing impressive displays of various types of calcite formations, such as stalagmites, stalactites, moonmilk, soda straws and waterfalls, bacon strips, rimstone dams, galleries and chambers. A regular one-hour tour requires no reservation, and special 3-hour adventure tours can be arranged for groups of four to six persons.
The Cody Caves were discovered in the early 1890s by Henry Cody, while out prospecting for silver. The caves were the subject of a short story written by Roger Pocock in 1899, titled The Noble Five, which described a cave whose inner chambers were walled with gold ore. The caves grew in popularity and were visited by many locals and curious individuals including, in 1908, the governor General of Canada, Earl Grey.
Though not walled with gold, the caves do contain an impressive display of calcite formations that are extremely old and have been growing at an average rate of about one cubic centimetre per century. The cave itself began formation when limestone beds laid down almost 600 million years ago were thrust upward by mountain building forces that occurred around 170 million years ago.
Cody Caves Provincial Park is located on the west side of Kootenay Lake, off Highway 31, about 2 miles (3 km) north of Ainsworth Hot Springs. The caves are reached by driving 8 miles (13 km) along a steep but well-marked road that is sometimes rough in places.
The access road is unsuitable for low-clearance vehicles, motorhomes, or vehicles with trailers. Guiding and transportation companies in nearby Kaslo can accommodate the transportationally challenged.
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