Rocky Mountain Archives - Kananaskis - Hiking Alberta

 

Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives was a failed business venture which created man-made caverns in the Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada.

 

Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The most common access into the tunnels, bored into the south face of Mount McGillivray in the Bow Valley Corridor west of the turnoff into Kananaskis Country via Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40), is achieved from the Heart Creek parking area or parking areas west of the Heart Creek on the south side of the TransCanada Highway across from Lac des Arcs.

Hiking west from Heart Creek parking, and across the big dip, will encounter a left tun on old gravel road heading uphill.  The second intersection right will begin a more gentle ramp along the base of Mount McGillivray to the cave entrance.

 

Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

An alternative approach is achieved by parking at a flat turnout on the TransCanada Highway across from Lac des Arcs where the hike begins off-trail uphill to the east towards the target on the side of the mountain.  Early on, the route may pass the locked and shuttered hut which was once the site of the 'Lac des Arcs Rock Climbing School'.  The famous climbing school ceased to exist in 1997 when founder and owner, Hans Kahl, passed away.  Many nearby vertical walls are bolted and anchored as an ongoing reminder of the training at the climbing school

 

Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Entrance into the cave will require lamps within a short distance.  Headlamps accompanied by powerful hand-held lamps will improve the ability to locate side tunnels and alcoves in the overall structure.  Rock helmets will provide some protection from potential falling rock and warm clothing will provide comfort from the perpetually cool temperatures.

A survey conducted in 2012 provides excellent information from Ben Gadd with Pete and Nate Foster at this link to a pdf file.

 

Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The caverns at the base of Mount McGillivray were an ambitious effort initiated by Stan and Joe Rokosh of Rokosh Engineering in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to provide secure, impenetrable storage for valuables other than currency or explosives.  Five years of planning began in the 1960's when paranoia from world nuclear armament escalation combined with the logical need to provide safe storage for personal and corporate valuables.

The project was abandoned in the early 1970's when more common sense prevailed and more sensible storage alternatives were created.

 

Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The man-made caverns are part of the Bow Valley Wildland Park component of Kananaskis Country which is protected by Alberta's Provincial Park Act.  There are serious penalties for vandalism, and common courtesy will preserve the nature of this historical oddity for others to enjoy in future years.

 

Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountain Vaults and Archives, Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

This feature near the base of Mount McGillivray is a popular destination and with appropriate caution creates a unique experience in the Bow Valley Corridor.  The entrance to the bunkers on McGillivray Slabs is less visible from the TransCanada Highway than it is from Highway 1A west of Exshaw, Alberta.

Please leave the resource in its natural state for others to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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