Just a Little Spelunking in the Warsaw Caves

On Saturday we decided to take our American friends on a nice Canadian excursion. So we took a break from the cottage and drove to the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area (only about 30 minutes northeast of Peterborough!), to do some spelunking.

It is a majestic cedar forest…

warsaw caves

But with holes in the ground leading to tunnels that you can explore.

warsaw caves

I don’t actually think spelunking is a typical Canadian activity, but it’s probably the coolest thing I’ve done in Ontario (aside from the Grotto in Bruce Peninsula). You may remember Evan and I visiting this place a couple summers ago.


Photo from last time

Annnd you may specifically remember that the caves are a little bit terrifying. I remember Paula being interested in them… kind of…

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We got her beer afterwards, don’t worry.

She said she’d still do it, that is interest. So when Fabian showed interest also, off we went to the terrifying caves (and if you would like to read about how the caves are formed and such, you can check that out here – it is interesting!)

warsaw caves

Fabian was so down (can you spot Evan way in the cave behind him in the above photo? You can just make out his sweater in the darkness).

More of Fabian and his beautiful smile getting all up in that cave.

warsaw caves

But doesn’t he have such a beautiful smile?!

We started off in cave one, and once you get into a small cavern that you can only crouch in, you can drop down into another slightly bigger cavern where you can almost stand. There is a third cavern even further down, but there were a bunch of people in there so we only went into the second one.

warsaw caves

Good enough. And not so scary, it’s a roomy cavern. But it is tricky getting into it because there’s a bit of a drop and then the rocks that you’re dropping onto are slick. Oh, and this cave had fossils embedded into the walls! So that was worth getting in there for sure.

Evan and I learned our lesson last time that a handheld lantern is not going to do sh*t, you need your hands free (camera has to come though, because pics or it didn’t happen, amirite?) So we bought two headlamps to share. It was a good call.


I also knew to wear pants and long sleeves, as I had a big of a leg catastrophe last time.

I don’t tend to be claustrophic (just arachnophobic, and there are spiders everywhere in there, but I dealt), but if you are I would not recommend this activity. There is one bigger cave that is open to the sky…

warsaw caves

but otherwise it’s a lot of squatting and crouching and squeezing in between giant rocks underground in the pitch black. So if that sounds like it would be your nightmare, rest assured it will be worse than it sounds. In the first cave you can actually get to the second cave by belly crawling through a narrow tunnel, but that is just too much for me.

I was really impressed that Paula and Fabian were up for this. I’m not sure how possible it would be to do this sort of thing in Florida though, so maybe they were just up for a new experience.

Happy cavers:

warsaw caves

Maybe a bit terrified but hiding it well.

Evan for scale:

warsaw caves

Can you spot Fabian and his headlamp climbing out?

warsaw caves

Climbing out of some of the caves was sometimes more difficult than lowering yourself into them.

warsaw caves

And the cave photoshoot:

warsaw caves

warsaw caves

Ignore my saggy pants crotch.

I don’t know what else to say about the caves other than it is truly a unique adventure.

warsaw caves


And I am glad we did it!

There’s also a lake and a bunch of trails and stuff in the conservation area, so we went on a hike afterwards.


Evan photobombing the romantic photo…

warsaw caves

warsaw caves

At the very end of the trail we took there is a large kettle in the limestone. Evan again for scale:

warsaw caves kettle

The pictures don’t do it justice, but it is basically a tunnel that goes all the way through the rock, maybe about 15-20 feet? There were a bunch of kettles along the trail but this was the biggest one by far.

warsaw caves kettle

The kettles formed when granite rocks that were trapped in the river current swirled in place for years and years, grinding their way down into the limestone. Pretty crazy.

warsaw caves kettle

I didn’t get quite as dirty or banged up as I did on my first adventure here (it also wasn’t raining). But I stand by what I said before, the Warsaw Caves are a unique and pretty amazing experience and I think a must-do if you are in the area.

Okay, so I saved this photo to the very end so I wouldn’t creep any arachnophobes out too badly… I saw this in the first cave while I was waiting to descend.


That is quite a lot of NOPE for one photo. It is not the cave itself that tends to freak me out, but the spiders that lurk in the caves. I am pretty legit terrified of spiders. But they aren’t poisonous or anything, they just look evil and they have too many legs, so I just tried not to think about them. And I tried to keep my eyes away from crevasses where they might be lurking. I actually feel pretty proud of myself for continuing despite that…maybe my fear is lessening!

Anyway, it was an experience. And I like to think a trip highlight for Paula and Fabian.


4 responses to “Just a Little Spelunking in the Warsaw Caves

  1. Thank you for not mentioning that I totally chickened out of that first cave. You are a true friend. The caves were totally a highlight of our trip! I know FF looooved it!

  2. I want to want to do this…but if the dark small spaces didn’t make this a big NOPE for me, those spiders did. *Shudder* Looks like you had a good time, you brave souls!

    • Oh I understand wanting to want to do it. I think I was more adventurous this time than the first time, because this time I knew what I was in for. It is much better once you get used to it. And the spiders…if I had been alone there is no way I could have continued after that, but there is safety in numbers!