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The Bunker of the Bow Valley

Updated: Apr 5

During the time of the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack was no joke. In an attempt to protect Canada's most valuable documents, the government decided to build a large bunker in the Rocky Mountains. The idea was for it to be a high-tech, ultra-secure storage facility. At least this is what the story says…


The bunker is located in Mt. McGillivary and overlooks Lac des Arcs, just East of Canmore, Alberta. It is a short hike up to the entrance, with the trail head located in the same parking lot as the Heart Creek Trail. It is a beautiful, easy-moderate hike. When you come across the entrance to the bunker, it is a little intimidating to think about going inside. It is dark and you have no idea what is in there.


Cold War Bunker, Canmore Alberta, Canada
Entrance to the bunker

Cold War Bunker, Calgary Alberta, Canada
Mac wants to lead the way in

We donned our flashlights and headlamps, trust me, you will want them, and made our way inside. It is not long before you are in complete darkness and the shadows off your lights begin playing tricks on your eyes. Once inside, the bunker comes to a Y. If you stick to the right, it simply comes to an abrupt end. If you stick to the left though, it goes back quite a distance and there are large "rooms" off of the main cavern.


Cold War Bunker, Canmore Alberta, Canada
Lanterns lighting the way

When entering the rooms, be sure to watch your step as there are remnants of fire pits in there, so there are tripping hazards. Unfortunately, people have vandalized the walls quite a bit and most (not all) of the images are a little unnerving. Nothing like lifting your light to take a picture and you have a spray painted demon face staring back at you. Regardless, it is very interesting to explore and just take in the sheer size of this cave and think about the manpower that had to go into building it.


Cold War Bunker, Canmore Alberta, Canada
Terrifying face painted on the wall

Cold War Bunker, Canmore Alberta, Canada
Not so scary painting

Today, this mysterious bunker just sits peacefully in the Rocky Mountains, never used, and it's intent never truly confirmed.


If you are planning a trip to the Alberta Rocky Mountains, let me help with the planning or check out my Alberta Concierge Package and Key to the City library.

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