"Mountain Park: Coal, Caves, Cadomin" Mountain Park by Darby2

Mountain Park Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 30 photos

The Mountain Park area was once a thriving coal mining town but is now totally abandoned. The only mining activity is a limestone quarry that supplies raw materials for the Inland Cement plant in Edmonton. There is a recreation area and campground nearby. It is a wonderful area to explore though, with many subalpine meadows, creeks, and nearby caves, the most famous of which is Cadomin Cave.

This area is now under development by a large mining company for the coal in this area. It's known as the Cheviot MIne. I took a drive through here on July 31, and much of the old roadway is buried as they build a new haul road for the huge Haulpaks that will lumber down the roads in future. It's sad to see the despoiling of such a beautiful area in the name of commerce.

Once past the Mountain Park Area, the road continues south reaching the summit of the Cardinal Divide, an open subalpine area at 1981 meters above sea level. Here is where two great river systems begin. The McLeod River will flow north into the Athabasca and eventually end up in the Arctic, while the Cardinal River will flow east into the North Saskatchewan and end up in Hudson Bay.

Cadomin Cave

Cadomin Cave
Entrance elevation; 1891 m
Length, Depth; 2791 m 220 m
When discovered & by whom; Unknown

Probably the earliest known cave of any extent in Alberta, Cadomin Cave. (The name Cadomin originates from the acronym for Canadian Dominion Mining). The cave entrance is believed to have been discovered by prospectors early in the century (Prosser 1972). As with many well known caves, colorful rumors circulate about the length of the passageways and the existence of other entrances. It is said that in their free time, miners used to travel through the mountains to Miette Hot Springs for a soak, a distance of at least 32 km, making a round trip of impressive length. Not content with this accomplishment, they found a back entrance to Cadomin Cave and were thus able to make the trip underground. Cavers, while eager to believe this since it would produce a cave of staggering length, have yet to find the miles of passage. Nevertheless, Cadomin Cave does continue to provide surprises, and has more than doubled in known length and tripled in surveyed depth since 1976. The cave was first surveyed in 1959 by W.L. Bigg and R.S. Taylor, and an updated version appeared in Cave Exploration in Canada (Thompson 1976)

Cadomin Cave is under the Alberta Government Stewardship Program for Alberta Environment. As stewards for Cadomin Cave under this program, the ASS mandates the caving protocol, education and conservation efforts for the cave which is now protected by Whitehorse Wildland Park. Cadomin Cave is closed for the season from September 1st to April 30th because Cadomin Cave is a hibernaculum for a large colony of bats. It is against the law to disturb hibernating bats and if you access Cadomin Cave during the restricted time period you may be charged since the area is monitored. Although this page does give some background on Cadomin Cave and its activities, the ASS does not promote the distribution of the location of caves entrances, including the well known Cadomin Cave.

As for hiking to the cave, it's a rather steep 2km climb and scramble up the mountainside and should be considered a full day trip (4km return) Those wishing to explore the cave must have proper safety equipment and lighting, preferably 3 light sources, lug soled boots, coveralls and warm clothing. Never go caving alone.

June, 2007. I hiked up the trail to the cave entrance. Regarding the trail, even though it's only 2 km from the parking lot to the cave, it's a very vigorous hike. The first 1.5 km is not too bad, but the last 500 meters or so is very steep (about 45 degrees or more) on a rather exposed slope and can be slippery when wet. There were still patches of snow in early June. The roots of some of the alpine fir trees form sort of a staircase and allow handholds as you are ascending.

Once you drive past Cadomin and begin the climb to the Cardinal Divide, an interesting stop on the way is the little cemetery at Mountain Park. Many of the early miners in this area came from Scotland, Ireland and other parts of Europe. You will notice the graves of many young children and babies. It must have been a cruel existence here even though the magnificent scenery belies it. Neverthless, its a beautiful place to be laid to rest.

Coal mining, modern style

The huge Cheviot mine nearby opened in 2005. There were many protests because of its proximity to Jasper Park, but they fell on deaf ears.

The access road parallels the main mining road with a berm between. There are several 240 ton Kress coal haulers to be seen along with the Haulpaks

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A beautiful subalpine area worthy of exploration
  • Cons:Caving is dangerous and cold if you're not properly equipped
  • In a nutshell:An incredible panorama awaits at the Cardinal Divide
  • Last visit to Mountain Park: Jun 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (1)

Comments (2)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2009 at 10:52 PM

    I'd like to eat and get gas at the Hole in the Wall, too!...

  • Callavetta's Profile Photo
    Jun 21, 2006 at 10:11 AM

    Love your Continental Divide photos. Where I live in Colorado I'm about 10 minutes from a sign like that, at 11,999 feet.

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