My kids have the hearts of explorers. So last week when we had the chance to stay at Blue Mountain Resorts, Westin Trillium House for a family blogger retreat and we saw that a visit to Collingwood Scenic Caves was on the schedule, well I knew we had to bring walking shoes and take photos.
When I was a child my Mom drove us to Collingwood for family vacations in the summer. I vividly recall exploring Collingwood Scenic Caves and the Blue Mountain Resort area way back in the late 1980s. Collingwood was one of my Mom’s favourite Ontario destinations actually. Wondering how much the caves and the resort itself had changed, I headed off on a quick hosted vacation with my kids in tow and ready for an adventure.
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Blue Mountain Resort and Collingwood Scenic Caves
Just a 5 minute drive from Blue Mountain Resort, Collingwood Scenic Caves are curious and educational too, well worth the admission price. Some of my favourite childhood travel memories are set here in Collingwood where we visited many a summer in the 80s and 90s. Together, with my Mom and brother I would trek up the mountains and into the scenic caves a few times as children. As a child that was a big adventure for us.
Thirty years ago the Scenic Caves were a simple experience, a charming day trip spent observing natural Ontario at its best. I also recall the Scenic Caves being larger than life back then and I remember squeezing through crevices and being a little bit awestruck and slightly overwhelmed by the size of the natural rock formations.
What a hoot to be able to take my kids through the caves too. These are the moments I live for as a parent. Being able to see things I enjoyed as a child through their eyes now is all the feels.
My girls are 9 and 11 now and they are active fit girls, so I knew they were up for the climbing. Payton took everything in and challenged herself climbing on several natural shelves with footholds in the hopes she might zip line at the top of the caves soaring high over the mountains. We were warned at the bottom before we went up that her height might not yet be tall enough to safely zip line and we poo pooed that until we actually saw the zip line for ourselves.
As daring as my children are, the Thunder Bird, Canada’s longest twin zip line is an experience that I think my daughter may need to grow into. Her short height, and my fear of heights, meant we took a pass on the Thunder Bird this year. I fully anticipate she will return and ride that thing with her father next year or the year following that.
Other Things To Do
Take an entire afternoon here at the caves and explore the property itself along with several other attractions. A train ride, a gem mining activity, miniature golf and a pond where you can feed the trout if you can keep the seagulls away long enough, all await. There is also a playground and snack bar too. Not too far off there is also a suspension bridge, but we didn’t have time to do that.
A Canadian Natural Wonder
The caves each have names and a history that accompanies them. In fact, the Scenic Caves are a Canadian natural wonder. Located at the highest part of the Niagara Escarpment, Collingwood Scenic Caves were once under water and are now a key tourist attraction above Georgian Bay in the Blue Mountain area.
Forming Collingwood’s Scenic Caves
These curious caves formed over hundreds of millions of years followed by ice movement in the Glacial ages. Earliest written records of the area come from Samuel De Champlain and the Jesuit Missionaries, who once lived with the Huron and Petun peoples.
The first cave you see is a natural refrigerator which meant I had to climb inside to believe it. Caves that maintained the cold temperatures like this one were naturally used to preserve food for early peoples. A key piece of the Collingwood Scenic Caves experience is the ice cave where snow sometimes stays until mid-July. I didn’t see any inside the ice cave but my daughter swears she did. Some lookout points have history posted and more importantly also allow a view of the deep blue waters of Wasaga Beach, Collingwood and Georgian Bay.
After we explored the caves, my girls spent some time mining for gems and then identifying them. They both enjoy science so that was a treat.
A Spiritual Experience
I couldn’t resist this shot at the end. There is something spiritual about hiking and climbing these caves, the same ones my Mom used to take me to as a kid, well that was a bit of magic. Last year my Mom passed away suddenly after her battle with Alzheimer’s, but sometimes I still feel her near me. This was one of these moments when my heart was open to hearing from her and reminiscing about the years we lived together with her always building magical summer experiences for our tiny family.
Pausing to Take it all in
When we came back down the trail we heard a snake before we saw it and it rapidly slithered away. The beauty of the place, Scenic Caves, and the memories I already had there made the day special to begin with. Being able to share these moments with my girls was priceless. At the end of the trail, still high up in the mountains, my oldest daughter and I took a moment to remember her Grandma and tell her she would have enjoyed such a beautiful day, in a magical place steeped in history.
I was invited to take part in the Blue Mountain Family Blogger Retreat. We stayed at the Westin Trillium House and enjoyed food, accommodations and attractions as a guest of Blue Mountain Resorts. This post also contains affiliate links as a service to readers. My opinion is all my own.