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Basin Cave Pictographs | Alberta, Canada

Archaeological Site

This site invites reflection upon the thousands of years of First Nations society in the Rocky Mountains, and the subsequent imprint of just a few decades of non-native occupation. Inside this astounding little cave, are a number of ochre-pigmented pictographs depicting local wildlife. The pictographs were carefully positioned around the cave's spring basin so still and clear that you cannot discern the water's surface. Sadly, these priceless and irreplaceable artworks have been desecrated by layers of graffiti, left by recent visitors to mark their casual passage.

Best Places to Go Basin Cave is clearly visible from Provincial Highway 3 on the opposite shore. It is not, however, so easy to get to. You really need a boat.

Visitors with paddle or power boats can launch at the Crowsnest Lake parking lot, or from the eastern shoreline, and motor across the lake to the cave. A broad cobble fan marks the entry of the Cave's short stream into Crowsnest Lake, and provides decent beaching for watercraft.

Walking is not recommended because of the danger posed by the many daily trains using the rail line along the lake's north shore. Outlaw hikers do start from the abandoned power house at the lake's eastern extremity, or from the parking area at the western end of the lake. While it is unlawful and ill-advised to walk the CPR railway line, there is usually room to step well away from the tracks in the very likely event that a train will pass during the hike. Prudent scofflaws ensure that no trains are coming before walking the tighter sections of rail line.

Best Times to Go Windless summer days are best for boating on Crowsnest Lake.

In spring, the gush of water from Basin Cave creates a substantial waterfall, easily visible from the opposite shore.

What You Should Know Before You Go It is dangerous and unlawful to walk along railway tracks in Canada.

Approach to Basin Cave on Crowsnest Lake. – David Thomas

Driving Directions from Nearest Town or Landmark

Park at the abandoned power house at the eastern extremity of Crowsnest Lake. Alternatively, boaters can start from the parking lot at Crowsnest Lake. Scofflaw hikers sometimes start from the Island Lake Recreation Area at the western end of the lake.

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