Raspberry Rising cave system

Glacier National Park

The Raspberry Rising cave system in Glacier National Park is closed to the public.

Access to the Raspberry Rising cave system is only permitted for scientific purposes. Under a Parks Canada research permit, the system can only be accessed in winter when water levels are low, and requires specialized equipment and advanced caving skills.

Raspberry Rising was named after the spring at which its entry was first discovered. Despite being known to surveyors for over a century, it has only recently begun to reveal its secrets, but this extensive cave system is remarkable for its size and decoration.

Formed in a karst landscape by glacial runoff eroding a marble band between two impermeable layers of schist and slate, its claims to fame are that it is:

  • the longest marble cave system in Canada;
  • the second longest cave system in the national parks and tenth longest in Canada;
  • one of the most decorated cave systems discovered in Canada.

After initial incursions in the 1970s were halted by an impassable waterfall, a team returned in 2012 and successfully traversed this obstacle. Mapping continued between 2012 and 2018 revealing a total of 5.5 km of underground passages, and many more routes lie yet to be explored.

Hidden treasures

This modern resurgence of exploration revealed a wondrous array of delicate and colourful speleothems. Some of the cave system’s incredible features include the longest soda straws in Canada, possibly the largest cave pearl formations in Canada, and a side passage named “crystal tube”, with a sparkling floor akin to a giant geode. 

Soda straws are thin, hollow stalactites
The “crystal tube” passage is filled with delicate calcite crystals

Caves are living environments, and often host unusual life forms not seen on the surface, providing opportunities to advance our knowledge through scientific study. Raspberry Rising has shown promise in this area, with soil and bacterial colony samples retrieved from the cave system having potential to produce antibiotics that may be able to combat drug-resistant infections.

As of 2022 the story of Raspberry Rising is still being written, with further exploration planned by the Alberta Speleological Society under a Parks Canada Research and Collections Permit. Who knows what wonders lie in store?

Related links

Related links

Date modified :