By all appearances, Belleville, Ontario is a scenic small town nestled along the St. Lawrence. However, this quaint community also sits atop of one of the largest and oldest cave networks in Canada. Formed 450 million years ago, the Tyendinaga Caves lie 30ft below the surface of the earth and stretch over 150ft. 

Exploration of these historic Belleville caves is possible thanks to the efforts of geology enthusiasts Charles and Elizabeth Koch. The proprietors of Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves, the two worked for over a decade to make the portion of the caves on their property safe for visitation.

The two host tours of these scenic caves in Ontario throughout the summer, teaching visitors about the history and science behind the Tyendinaga cavern. 

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Photo credit: Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves

Descending into the Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves…

When entering the Tyendinaga Caves, a narrow concrete staircase will take you several feet underground into the largest Tyendinaga cavern. As the cavern opens up, you will be greeted by cave curtains, and perhaps a sprinkle of mineral water as droplets descend down the stalactites onto your head.

The wave-like patterns on the cave walls are a testament to the geological forces that shaped the Tyendinaga cavern and caves, as prehistoric waterways flowed across the area, followed by the advance and retreat of glaciers during the last Ice Age. 

In addition to the rock formations, fossils are spread across these Belleville caves, some of them as old as 450 million years young. A collection of the most unique fossils can be seen aboveground at the Tyendinaga caves entrance.

The truly adventurous can test their mettle by venturing into a narrow side tunnel, where they will be submerged in total, subterranean darkness…

These scenic caves in Ontario are also very kid-friendly, with a variety of safety features including railings, floodlights and flat concrete floors. Kids will also love tossing a coin into the underground wishing well and might even get to take home a cave crystal if they’re well-behaved! 

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Photo credit: Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves

Beyond the Tyendinaga Caves

Even before descending into this amazing Belleville cavern, there’s plenty to do and see in the area. The guided tours of the Tyendinaga Caves begin with an exploration of the fields surrounding the caves, showcasing several sinkholes and the entrances to caves that aren’t safe for visitation.

After visiting the Tyendinaga Caves, guests can stick around for a picnic in the fields and enjoy the sunlight after a long trek underground. One thing’s for sure, the Tyendinaga caves are a must-see for fans of caving in Ontario!

Belleville is just one of the many unique, picturesque small towns dotting the shores of the St. Lawrence. For more fun outings like the Tyendinaga caves, check out our rundown of the best attractions in Southeastern Ontario.

Special thanks to the staff at the Comfort Inn in Belleville, ON for their suggestions.

Choice Hotels in Southeastern Ontario