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Our Little Story of Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island

 Have you been to Upana Caves on Vancouver Island?  Yes/No? Then get ready for an adventure and the chance to capture breathtaking photos. Upana Caves is in a remote and rugged region on Vancouver Island. This hidden gem is a photographer’s dream. The cave’s unique and otherworldly formations, combined with natural light, create a stunning setting for photographs.

Table of Contents

What is Upana Caves?

Upana Caves is a natural limestone cave on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is significant because it contains great opportunities for exploration and photography. Visitors can explore the 450-meter-long and 35-meter deep cave on a self-guided tour, usually taking around one hour to do so. Upana Caves offers stunning views of stalagmites and stalactites, as well as unique rock formations that are not common in other caves. The beauty of the caves makes it an ideal spot for photographers to capture stunning images of nature’s wonders.

What are the unique features of Upana Caves?

Visitors to Upana caves can explore the intricate and weathered rock formations on an easy, family-friendly hike. Starting from the parking area, the trail winds through an old-growth forest before arriving at a land bridge over the Upana River. Those looking for a day trip or weekend getaway close to Gold River won’t want to miss exploring Upana Caves.

  • This short, family-friendly hike offers visitors a chance to experience the intricate and weathered rock formations that can be found throughout the region.
  • The trail goes through the old-growth forest to the caves.
  • Explore and get a feel for the caves and the landscape.

Upana Caves: A Cave Adventure

Visitors to Upana Caves on Vancouver Island will find five caverns and a waterfall. A trail network runs through the caverns for those wanting to explore this underground environment.

For those looking for a unique viewpoint, the observation platform offers fantastic views of the Resurgence Cave. Take Caution when exploring these caves: low ceilings can trap visitors.

  • This system of underground caves is named Upana after the underground river.
  • Remember to be cautious when exploring. There are low cave ceilings easily trapping you if you’re not careful.
  • There’s a trail system leading visitors to the Upana caves, making it easy to get around without getting lost or feeling too isolated.
  • The observation platform offers fantastic views of the Resurgence cave entrance, making it a great place to take in all the sights and sounds of this fascinating attraction.

How to explore and photograph Upana Caves Vancouver Island?

Step 1: Research the Upana Caves on Vancouver Island

The first step in exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island is to prepare for potential hazards. It’s important to have a map, multiple sources of light, and extra warm clothing on hand, particularly if the temperature changes during your visit.

Step 3: Prepare for the hike to the Upana Caves on Vancouver Island

When exploring the Caves, use caution and dress appropriately. It is important to monitor any children while exploring, especially in the spring/autumn seasons when water levels are high.

There are several entrances and viewpoints, so it is best to take time and explore them thoroughly before returning to the parking lot.

Step 4: Take safety precautions while exploring the Upana Caves on Vancouver Island

  • In a cave, avoid running or jumping. Consider your every step.
  • When rain is expected in the area, avoid going inside caves. Rapid cave flooding is common.
  • Stalactites and other cave formations should never be touched or damaged. These take a very long time to develop.

Step 5: Capture moments and create memories by taking photographs

When exploring and photographing Upana Caves on Vancouver Island, it is important to pack out what is brought in. Always check your camera gear before leaving an area. It’s dark and small items can fall into the abyss.

Step 6: Leave no trace behind you

It is essential to leave no trace behind when exploring and photographing Upana Caves in order to protect the environment. This includes staying on designated trails, not littering, and not feeding wildlife. Doing so will help ensure that the natural beauty of Upana Caves remains preserved for future generations to enjoy.

inside a cave at Upana caves Vancouver Island

What is the experience like exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island?

1. Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island: Location and accessibility

Upana Caves on Vancouver Island can be found and photographed by first travelling west from Gold River towards Tahsis. After that, continue 14.5 kilometres on the dirt Head Bay Forest Service Road. They should then turn right onto Branch H-27 and park just before the bridge on the right. Finally, one must cross the bridge and start their adventure in order to go to the Upana Caves trailhead on Vancouver Island.

  • Head north on Gold River Hwy/Muchalat Dr/BC-28 E toward Nimpkish Dr.
  • Turn left onto Gold River Rd (signs for Tahsis/Tsaxana).
  • Turn left onto Head Bay Rd (signs for Tahsis).
  • It is about a 30-minute drive.

*Note – along the Head Bay road you will pass over a bridge and a perfect opportunity to photograph Cala waterfalls.

Map of how to get to Upana caves on Vancouver Island

2. Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island: Safety and Comfort

Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island can be a thrilling adventure, but safety and comfort should always be a priority. Be sure to bring a map, plenty of light sources, appropriate clothing, and a helmet for protection. Temperature inside the cave may fluctuate, so it is important to dress appropriately.

Staying safe while exploring will help ensure that your experience is as enjoyable as possible!

3. Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island: Caves Features

Upana Caves is a captivating natural attraction, boasting an extensive 450-meter long cave system of a variety of chambers and passages. It’s a great place for those interested in exploring, as its many features make for an incredible experience.

  • Upana Caves has many fascinating features waiting to be discovered.
  • This cave system stretches over 450 meters long and contains a variety of different sized chambers and passages.
  • The various features of Upana Caves make it an incredibly interesting place to visit and photograph.

4. Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island: Lighting

Lighting is of great importance when exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island. It is essential to carry a map, light sources, and extra warm clothing to protect from potential hazards.

As temperatures can change drastically in caves, it is important to be prepared for such changes.

Although unnecessary, helmets can provide protection from bumps or falls in the tight space of a cave. For this reason, lighting should always be considered an essential part of any exploration into Upana Caves.

5. Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island: Photography

Normally, I would suggest you leave the tripod at home. However, there are several larger caves, where using the tripod can be essential. While there, look for the smaller details in the caves.

6. Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island: Cave Passages

Upana Caves on Vancouver Island is a fascinating and wonderful place to explore and take pictures. Visitors may simply enter it and explore the extensive network of underground caves. The overall length of the Upana caverns is 450 meters, and its vertical depth is 35 meters. It takes around an hour to complete the self-guided tour.

7. Exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island: Cave Entrances

Upana Caves system has multiple entrances, varying sizes and features. These entrances provide access to the cave’s 450 meter-long passages, allowing visitors to explore and photograph the various rooms and corridors.

Cave opening at Upana caves on Vancouver Island

How can you prepare for a trip to explore and photograph Upana Caves Vancouver Island?

Step 1: Research the trail to Upana Caves

By taking the time to investigate the different entrances and viewpoints, you can identify which one best suits your interests.

Step 2: Bring a camera and other photography equipment

I love photographing the Upana caves it something different. It challenges you by limiting the equipment you can use. It will test your photography knowledge.

Because of the dark nature of cave exploration, a phone flashlight will not provide enough light for photography. It is therefore necessary to bring along an appropriate head torch, flashlight, or LED lights to capture these memories.

Step 3: Prepare a plan for the trip

When exploring the caves, it is important to come prepared with the right supplies. Sensible footwear and water are essential. A change of clothes and a packed lunch are recommended if visitors plan on exploring the cave system in its entirety. Warm layers are also advised, as temperatures are cooler inside caves.

Step 4: Let someone know about your plans

As with any outdoor expedition, it’s crucial to let someone know when you expect to return. Just in case anything goes wrong. It is never recommended to go caving alone; always explore with at least one other person for safety reasons. Also cell service is not available once outside of Gold River. 

Final Thoughts of Upana Caves Vancouver Island

When exploring Upana Caves Vancouver Island, it is important to take safety precautions. It is advisable to bring a flashlight or head torch to see in the dark. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear as temperatures inside the cave can be cooler than expected.
Pack snacks and water for both during and after your exploration, as well as a change of clothes. Bringing along a first aid kit. Check the weather before heading and drive slowly when passing logging trucks.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our little story of exploring and photographing Upana Caves Vancouver Island. If you’re looking for more adventure, be sure to check out our other post.

Frequently Asked Questions

Upana Caves on Vancouver Island offers a unique, family-friendly outdoor experience. Visitors can explore the interconnected caves and take in the views from two overlooks that offer spectacular vistas of the river canyon and waterfall. The cave system is easily accessible with clear signs and trails for visitors to follow, although proper footwear and outdoor gear are necessary for safety. The weathered rock walls of Upana Caves provide an ideal atmosphere for photography, particularly during spring or autumn when water levels may be higher. Children should be extra cautious during these periods to ensure their safety within the cave system. With just an hour’s worth of exploring, any family can make lasting memories at this breathtaking destination!

  • This short, family-friendly hike offers a self-guided tour through the cave system that takes about one hour. You’ll see:
  • Old-growth forests
  • Platforms for photographers (one overlooking the waterfall, another the river canyon)
  • Underground trails
  • Waterfalls
  • Four interconnected caves
  • While there are clear signs and trails to follow, common sense and appropriate outdoor gear are necessary to keep visitors safe and keep the caves in good condition.
  • The key features of Upana Caves include: weathered rock, moist atmosphere, short descent into caverns.

Upana Caves was formed by thousands of years of erosion caused by the nearby Upana River. Over time, the river slowly carved out a path through limestone and other sedimentary rock, creating beautiful and unique cave formations. Visitors can explore this intricate subterranean world while taking in breathtaking views from the observation platform at the entrance to Upana Caverns.

Exploring Upana Caves can be dangerous if appropriate safety measures are not taken. Fast-flowing underground rivers can pose a threat, and getting lost inside the cave is another risk. To minimize the risks, explorers should always carry a map of the cave system and enough supplies to get them through an unexpected stay in the cave. Additionally, appropriate clothing for different seasons should also be packed as caves experience little temperature change throughout the year.

It is estimated that there are more than 200 caves located on Vancouver Island. Some of these are among the longest and deepest cave systems in Canada. Upana Caves, located near Port Alberni, is one of the most popular caves to explore and photograph on Vancouver Island.

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