Nakimu Caves

Cave of the Cheops - Deutschmann's Cave


Useful Information

Location: Glacier National Park, Flat Creek.
Open: No longer open to the public
Fee: n/a
Classification:  Karst cave
Light: none
Dimension: L=5,900m.
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Jon Rollins (2004): Caves Of The Canadian Rockies And Columbia Mountains, paperback, 320pp, Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd, March 2004, ISBN: 0921102941.  amazon.com
This is a detailed guide book, written by a caver for a caver. It contains numerous photos, surveys, maps etc., nearly one a page. Nakimu Caves on pp 288-294 with description, location map, survey, and photos.
n.a. (1914): The Nakimu Caves, Glacier Dominion Park, B.C., Dominion Parks Branch, Dept. of the Interior in Ottawa,
Address: Nakimu Caves, Mount Revelstroke and Glacier National Park, P O Box 350, Revelstroke, BC VOE 2SO, Tel: +1-250-837-7500. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:52:20 $

History

 
1904discovered by C. H. Deutschmann, prospector and hunter.
1909Deutschmann sold his claim to the Federal government for $5,000, and was appointed guide and custodian of the caves.
1935caves closed to the public.

Description

Deutschmann knew this was bound to be a popular visitor attraction for the adventurous tourists who stayed at the nearby Glacier House. He constructed wooden walkways and staircases, even a floating bridge, to facilitate the tourist traffic. In the cavern known as the 'Subway Passage', he blasted a trench 110 meters in length to enable his guests to walk rather than crawl its length. In 1909, more than 1,000 people visited the caves, but with the closing of Glacier House these numbers declined. Only a few people were interested in cave exploration when the park closed Nakimu to the public in 1935.

Nakimu Caves is one of the largest cave systems in Canada, 5.9 kilometers of passages have been explored and mapped to date - far more than Deutschmann knew - and the caves are still growing. The Nakimu caves are formed in a limestone mountain that is almost 95% calcium carbonate (the 'lime' in limestone), and consequently the rock is far more subject to the erosional properties of rain and snow meltwater. The sound of thundering water is never far away. Deutschmann named the caves Nakimu - a Shuswap word meaning 'grumbling spirits'. The rushing water also makes the caves exceptionally dangerous, flooding previously dry chambers and dislodging large chunks of rock.

One of the most fascinating features of Nakimu is something called 'moonmilk' which has the appearance of cauliflower heads and the consistency of cottage cheese. Thought to be caused by calcium carbonate crystals growing on bacteria on the cave walls, it is extremely fragile. Unfortunately, visitors failing to resist the temptation to touch this rare display have left scars dating back to the early 1900's.

It is a three-hour hike with an elevation gain of 800 meters to reach the cave entrance, and therefore public access is very limited. The Cougar Brook valley is Grizzly bear country. The trail here may be closed at any time if bear activity is threatened.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.


See also


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