Your guide to spelunking in Warsaw Caves

I bet you’re wondering, as I was, what spelunking means. Is it the noise you make when bellyflopping into too shallow a lake? Is it a super cool move all the hipster kids are doing these days? And Warsaw Caves? Is that in Poland?

Everything you need to know about spelunking at Warsaw Caves
Caving is so much fun, once you try it, you’ll probably want to do it again.

I found out last month in Peterborough, Ontario that spelunking is just another word for caving (though why they needed another name for this activity, I’ll never know). Here’s a look at what it’s like exploring the underground labyrinth of Warsaw Caves, which is in Canada, BTW, not Poland. 

Warsaw Caves Conservation Area

You’ll find the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area about a half hour drive away from Peterborough, Ontario. The best part about spelunking in this neck of the woods is that it’s not hyper legislated like you’d find at a provincial or national park. There’s no forms to sign, no mandatory equipment, you just don a headlamp and get going.

Your guide to spelunking in Warsaw Caves
Warsaw Caves is totally worth checking out. Just be sure to explore with a buddy.

The rock formations in this region are rich in geographical history. The caves are made up of these massive slabs of limestone bedrock that collapsed on each other during the last ice age.

limestone rock
Be sure to bring a headlamp!

It’s a true underground jungle gym, filled with dozen upon dozens of nooks and crannies to wedge yourself through. “There’s a million different ways to try and get around in here,” says campground operator Aaron Manser.

He was totally right. Just when you think you’re at a dead end, you only need to look up or sideways to find another crevice to squeeze through.

warsaw caves
I’d wear long sleeves, personally.

The caverns are vast and surreal. You’ll get dirty from crawling on your belly and contorting yourself in unusual positions to glide through the rock, but there’s nothing icky dripping from the ceiling and no water on the ground.

Oh, and no bats or other creatures to freak you out. You might, however, find the occasional can of beer, confirming this spot’s status for the high school set.

caves of peterborough
Find an entryway and head on in!

Seven caves are open to the public to explore, plus sink holes and underground drainage channels. Besides caving err spelunking, there are also 16 hiking trails.

Hiking in the Kawarthas 

group hiking along path
The trail is easy enough for you to hike in jeans.

When you’re hiking in the Kawarthas region, you’ll find pretty trails that ramble over roots and large rocks flanked by a cedar forest. There’s even a rushing river that disappears.

This “disappearing river” goes down into the caves then reappears 150 feet later. Natural kettles (holes in roles formed by eddying currents of water bearing stones) are a haven for kids to play in.

woman inside rock kettle
Down Jody goes!

This region is ideal for letting kids lose in. Bears aren’t common, but there are turtles, deer and even wild turkeys afoot.

The are also these ginormous limestone boulders kids can scramble over and explore. No restrictions means you can fish for perch to your heart’s content.

rocks, river
The gap is pretty big, so I wouldn’t go running from rock to rock.

Warsaw Caves info

  • Warsaw Caves was named after the area’s first postmaster who happened to be from Warsaw, New York. Note: This dude was not Polish.
  • $12/car camping, $42 for a serviced site
  • Day trips are $4.50/adult, $2.75/child
  • Canoes can be rented for $11/hour or for a flat daily rate of $42

Have you ever gone Spelunking? Where did you go and what was your experience like?

You also might enjoy reading:

Searching for belly buttons in the sand

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15 thoughts on “Your guide to spelunking in Warsaw Caves”

  1. Dana Freeman

    I have not gone spelunking since I was at sleepaway camp (a million years ago). I am not sure I could do it now, the small spaces, the bats…but you make it look great. I should probably take my kids!

    1. I think it’s fantastic that this was offered at your sleep away camp! Fortunately no bats at this one, I wouldn’t be able to handle that either…

  2. Nope, I’d never heard of spelunking until now! I must admit, I’m not sure I could handle the caverns… bats and crawling through dark caves scares me! My kids would love it.

    1. Best part about caving here is that there were no bats, icky dripping water or anything gross!

  3. Sand In My Suitcase

    Who knew there were such fun caves to explore near Peterborough! Our home country of Canada never ceases to amaze us. Easy-going spelunking would be our style – no tiny, PITCH BLACK caves and claustrophobia, thank you!

  4. Carmen | Carmen's Luxury Travel

    Warsaw Caves has been on my radar for quite some time. If I tell my kids they can let lose and climb on rocks, trees, and especially go through underground tunnels they would be ecstatic. I would feel a little claustrophobic myself getting into some of those tight spaces.

    1. Most of the spaces weren’t too tight. We had a wide variety of heights and sizes on our group and everyone was able to comfortably get to the same space. Surprising, but true!

  5. Katja - globetotting

    In theory I love the idea of spelunking but my fear of small, dark, enclosed spaces has always put me off (and I think will continue to do so!). I’ll stick to the hiking trail instead 🙂

  6. Colleen Lanin

    Looks beautiful but, um, I’m not going with! Remember the caves in the Outaouais? Yeah, it’s just not for me. It does sound like quite the adventure, though!

  7. Jolanta | Casual Traveler

    That looks like so much fun! I find caves inherently captivating, though I agree they leave you dirty, with possibly scraped off skin on your hands and in other places too. But it’s worth it! The hiking in the Cavartas Region sounds like fun as well. Thank you for sharing all those gorgeous photos!

    1. So true! You wouldn’t believe the places I found dirty on my body after this experience.

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