cave and basin

The Cave and Basin hot springs in Banff are hidden underground

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site, located in the town of Banff, Alberta, is so much more than just a pretty mineral pool.

Already known of by Indigenous people for thousands of years, the hot springs were discovered in 1883 by a trio of railway workers who stumbled upon the site after they spotted steam coming from a crack in the rocks on the side of a mountain.

What they discovered was the smell of rich minerals steaming up from clear, turquoise waters tucked away in a beautiful underground setting.

They jumped on the opportunity to use the underground thermal waters as a way to make money, but were later denied ownership when applying for land titles.

The hot springs and the surrounding site were deemed off-limits for sale or settlement by the Government of Canada. The park’s area widened in the coming years, becoming what is now known as Banff National Park, the first national park in the country. 

Now an official historic site, visitors can check out the hot springs on a discovery tour that takes you on a guided journey through the caves, right to the very spot that the railway workers first discovered the mineral water.

You can also take a lantern tour that brings you deep into the caves after nightfall, with nothing but a lantern for light to guide you through the cave system.

This tour is only available on Saturday nights from May to August.

There’s also an impressive trail system to be explored above ground, with four different two-kilometre routes to choose from.

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