Bonnechere Caves, Ontario’s Natural Underground Wonder

posted in: Blog, Canada, Caves, Ontario, Tours | 40

I have always loved visiting caves. It is quite fascinating to travel below the surface of the ground to see what wonders lay beneath. At Bonnechere Caves, you’ll get a history lesson, a cave exploration, and an entertaining tour all in one place. It might be a little off the beaten path, but you’ll be happy that you made the drive to this secluded spot between the towns of Eganville and Douglas, Ontario, Canada.

The Region

Eganville…Douglas…where are these places? A small part of me did want to deface the Eganville sign to add a “V” in front of it, making it Veganville…my kind of place! Anyway, they’re part of the Ottawa Valley, located about an hour and a half west of Ottawa, or about four and a half hours northeast of Toronto. We combined a visit to the caves with our white water rafting trip down the Ottawa River (more to come on that later!). The property of Bonnechere Caves seems to be in the middle of the country, although the Bonnechere River does flow right past the site.

It was raining a bit that day, but the best part of visiting a cave is that the weather doesn’t matter! Rain or shine, Bonnechere Caves is always open. I would recommend that you bring a light sweater even on the hottest of days as it is always cooler underground.

The Fossils

Bonnechere Caves offers guided tours every hour. We waited with our small group in front of a table covered with fossils. At the beginning of our tour, our guide gave us an introduction to the region and the types of fossils that have been found in the area and inside the cave.

There were a couple of charts displaying both a “Record of Life through Geological Time”, as well as “Fossils of the Ordovician Time Period”. We learned that the limestone at Bonnechere Caves was deposited as layers of mud and silt during the Ordovician time period. The Ordovician time period happened around 400-500 million years ago, long before the evolution of fish or a time when dinosaurs walked the globe!

We were shown many actual fossils of creatures from the Ordovician time period, including many in the chart above. 500 million years ago, our part of the world was located in the tropics! Many of the fossils found buried in the walls of the cave are coral and sea creatures that existed in a tropical climate. All of the fossils were described to us and some of the smaller ones were even passed around. This was really educational for both children and adults as we tried to guess which creatures were preserved in each rock!

After we learned about the fossils, it was finally time to descend into the cave itself!

The Cave

One by one, we descended down a wooden walkway into the cave. Immediately, we felt the temperature fluctuate and we were glad that we wore long-sleeved shirts. The cave was very well lit. While our guide had a flashlight, there were lamps set up along the path that illuminated the rock formations. Stalactites hung like icicles from the ceilings above. They grow very slowly at a rate of about one cubic inch every 150 years. Visitors should take care not to touch the stalactites as this can disrupt their growth or kill them entirely.

Stalactites hanging from the ceiling

We learned all about the history of the cave itself and how it was discovered by the owner. It is a fascinating and at times, funny story. I won’t completely spoil it for you, but let’s just say that the owner went through many trials and tribulations many years ago when first exploring the cave!

We discovered that many of the fossils existed in the cave walls themselves. You can see one in this photo:

At one point, we were asked if we wanted to explore a separate, small tunnel within the cave that looped back around towards the entrance. Justin, myself, and a group of the younger kids decided to walk through the narrower passageway (I can’t believe that so many people decided not to do it!). Our shoes got a little bit wet, and Justin had to duck down quite a bit to make his way through, but it was really fun! Our tour guide said that we were now “spelunkers” as we ventured through part of a cave without a guide. Well…I somehow don’t think that really counts, but I happily agreed to have the title at that moment!

During one portion of the tour, our guide turned off all of the lights in a section so we could see just how dark it was inside the cave. It was pitch black. We couldn’t see anything at all! I could see how exploring the caves initially would have had its challenges, and I appreciated that all of the lights were carefully placed and installed.

We descended deep into the bowels of the cave. Sometimes the ceiling would be directly above our heads, but at other times, the rocks extended way up high. Sometimes we would walk through narrower passages, and at other times, we would gather in larger rooms. It was fascinating to discover the interesting patterns carved over millions of years into the limestone walls.

After about an hour, our tour was over as we walked out into a very lush forested area. We were urged to follow the path and take a look into a giant sinkhole near the cave.

The cave’s exit
The sinkhole (hard to get a perspective from the photo, but it was really deep!)

We had a fantastic time at Bonnechere Caves. It was great to learn some historical facts about a region that is fairly close to home. It was very educational for people of all ages, while remaining exciting and fun. We walked around examining all of the patterns and grooves in the rocks, and admired the stalactites that have been growing for thousands of years. I highly recommend checking out Bonnechere Caves, especially if you’re looking for a fun activity to do on a rainy (or sunny!) day.

Bonnechere Caves open on the May Long Weekend (Victoria Day) and stay close for the season on Canadian Thanksgiving (the 2nd weekend in October). Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, $13 for youth (age 13-17), and $12 for children (under age 4 is free).

Bonnechere Caves

1247 Fourth Chute Road

Eganville, Ontario

Disclaimer: We were guests of Bonnechere Caves. Our thoughts and opinions, as always, are completely our own. We highly recommend that you check out these awesome caves!

40 Responses

  1. James

    Funny how you can find amazing natural wonders in the most unexpected places … excellent tour guys!
    James recently posted…Must See Cities: Destinations in Canada!My Profile

  2. Anna

    How fun! There’s a part of me that’s fascinated with caves!! I remember on a school field trip once in elementary school, we went spelunking and it was SO much fun that I’ve been dreaming about doing it again ever since! This one looks really fun with the narrow tunnels and low ceilings!
    Anna recently posted…The locals’ guide to Warsaw: Poland’s phoenix cityMy Profile

  3. Jessi

    Yay geology! I don’t care how many caves I go to, I find them absolutely fascinating. I’ll never forget my first time underground in the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, and it tends to be one of my favorite types of treks. Now I’ll need to check them out in Ontario too!
    Jessi recently posted…Ohio Travel: 5 Types of Travelers That Should Visit the Buckeye StateMy Profile

  4. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    We love exploring caves too and this is a great one. I really like how the outside area looks too. Those fossils are so cool! How neat that you were able to see them even inside the cave. I think it’s mandatory for all cave tour guides to turn the lights off. But, it is amazing to think how this cave was discovered. Great tour!
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted…Strolling through the Golden Pavilion KyotoMy Profile

    • Lauren

      I think so too. The tour guide even did this thing where she turned off the lights and said “there is a trick where if you put your hand on your nose, you can see in the dark!” Then she turned the lights on quickly and everyone had their hand on their nose. Hahaha. Great trick! 🙂
      Lauren recently posted…Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express Pembroke with Priceline TipsMy Profile

  5. Hannah

    Hahaha I went here for a field trip when I was little! It was pouring rain and supper slippery…I remember having fun and being covered in mud by the end 🙂
    Hannah recently posted…Breaking the Law for a little Kindness on Charles BridgeMy Profile

  6. Megan Claire

    We love visiting caves as well – so glad you had such a fantastic time; sounds like an amazing attraction.
    Megan Claire recently posted…5 More Mouth-Watering Korean Foods to TryMy Profile

  7. Carmen (CarmensTravelTips)

    We’ve visited several underground caves and old mines. I find them fascinating. The best caves I’ve seen so far were in Puerto Rico.
    Carmen (CarmensTravelTips) recently posted…He proposed, Excellence Punta CanaMy Profile

  8. Christine

    The caves looks amazing! Great photos as well 🙂
    Christine recently posted…Amazing brunch spots in NYCMy Profile

  9. antonette - we12travel

    Pretty impressive! The world underneath the surface of the earth has a lot to show to us for sure…
    antonette – we12travel recently posted…Kamperen: terug naar de bron van buitenMy Profile

  10. Sandra @ Tripper

    Sounds like my kind of (de)tour! Thanks.
    Sandra @ Tripper recently posted…Lisbon By The RiverMy Profile

  11. Jowita

    What a great trip you had! I find caves scary and exiting at the same time. I would never say no to a visit like that, but when I actually go inside I’m starting to feel claustrophobic.
    Jowita recently posted…On the other side of the AtlasMy Profile

  12. Heather Cole

    Sounds like a fun experience! It’s amazing to think of all that beneath out feet, just waiting to be explored.
    Heather Cole recently posted…Afternoon tea – the London wayMy Profile

  13. Juergen

    They sound like interesting caves to explore. Unfortunately my wife gets easily claustrophobic so I can hardly ever convince her to visit any caves; when I succeed I hear complains for weeks after. Since we travel in an RV it’s often not so easy to split up and do different things for part of the day…
    Juergen recently posted…What a Perfect Day at La CampanaMy Profile

  14. Casey O'Connell

    Wanting to make the sign Veganville…. haha!! Sounds like something I would do too… 😉 I also loveeee caves, so this will definitely have to go on my list. Thanks for sharing, guys! Awesome pictures!

  15. Paul (@luxury__travel)

    This takes me back to my days of studying geography and geology at Uni… sounds like a really interesting spot – would love to see all those fossils close up!

  16. Elena

    Those fossils look impressive! And I wouldn´t mind going to that cave either!
    Elena recently posted…Greece on my birthday. Thessaloniki, Meteora, HalkidikiMy Profile

  17. Sammi Wanderlustin'

    Eganville! Maybe that’s where my family is from !

    The location looks stunning, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to caves, and don’t think I’d want to venture too far underground. I visited Salt Mines in Poland and it was consistently on my mind how far down we were. I would definitely have been one of the wimps about the narrower route.
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted…Poppies in the MoatMy Profile

  18. Christine

    Looks like a fun trip! Those fossils look so interesting. And the cave looks super fun but I get a bit claustrophobic sometimes. Looks like a cool adventure though!
    Christine recently posted…DFTM’s Travel Print GiveawayMy Profile

  19. Claudia

    I actually think the forest outside the cave looks just as fabulous!

  20. Els

    Love the tunnels! Although a bit creepy!
    Els recently posted…Ithaca: into the footsteps of OdysseusMy Profile

  21. Karen Warren

    I don’t really like caves – I felt claustrophobic just looking at your pictures – but I can see that these ones must be very interesting.
    Karen Warren recently posted…Ruins and Wild Flowers: Visiting Jervaulx Abbey in the Yorkshire DalesMy Profile

  22. Brianna

    Wow, I love that you can see fossils still in the rock!
    Brianna recently posted…Melk Abbey- Austria’s golden shrineMy Profile

  23. Wow, who would of thought that caves like this were in Ontario. I guess I just never associated fossils and caves like that with Canada. I need to expand my horizons! 🙂 The pictures are beautiful! Thanks for sharing, I’ll definitely have to make my way up to that part of Canada soon.

  24. Allison @ A Foodie in Europe

    Great post! I love going in caves. I like that they showed you some fossils before you went it, I think it makes the tour a little more exciting when you know what has come out of that cave. So many of the tours I have been on are like “this is a cave, let’s walk through it. Ok any questions?” It sounds like this one is really interested in educating their visitors.
    Allison @ A Foodie in Europe recently posted…The Only Drink You Need for Summer in SpainMy Profile

  25. Veronika

    Wow, you got great photos from the caves – I imagine the light conditions were not ideal but you nailed it! Canada has so much to offer.. I wasn’t aware there are stunning caves there as well. Good to know!
    Veronika recently posted…Street Pianos in the World: How It All StartedMy Profile

    • Lauren

      The lighting conditions were less than ideal but we were able to snap some photos! There were many that didn’t turn out, too, so I’m thankful that a few did!
      Lauren recently posted…Go To Jail at the Morrin Centre in Quebec CityMy Profile

  26. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling

    That is SO cool that you were in a place that formed before dinosaurs had even evolved! 😀
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted…Get Lost On Robinson Crusoe IslandMy Profile

  27. Cory Lee

    this cave looks so cool! I love all of the fossils. I would love to do this, but it doesn’t look very wheelchair accessible. Lol
    Cory Lee recently posted…Go Anywhere Shower Chair: A Perfect Solution for Wheelchair TravelersMy Profile

    • Lauren

      Unfortunately, it was not very wheelchair accessible…there were many stairs to go up and down. Although since reading your blog, I have thought more and more about which places are wheelchair accessible or not – I’m happy to see when places are accessible to all!
      Lauren recently posted…Go To Jail at the Morrin Centre in Quebec CityMy Profile

  28. Stacey Veikalas

    Wow these caves are really cool something my kids would also love to explore. The fossils in the rock and pretty amazing and how they are just out there in the middle of nowhere makes them even cooler. Growing up in Colorado I am a cave fan love them – thank you so much for sharing – cool story and great photos.
    Stacey Veikalas recently posted…Haunted Castle EltzMy Profile

  29. Jon @

    This place looks awesome. I’ve visited a lot of caves in Southeast Asia – they are always fun to explore.

  30. Rachel

    I have a love for caves too. There is something so moreish about wanting to delve deeper into the dark secrets of the other world…. seeing what is in the next cavern, looking at the rock formations and sculptures…. and for me, as an ecologist, I am always on the lookout for bats! I can’t help myself 😛
    Rachel recently posted…A Unique Experience In VisbyMy Profile

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