Back in 1883, three employees of the Canadian Pacific Railway stumbled across a random hole in the ground. Upon closer examination they decided to lower part of a tree trunk down into the darkness and bravely descended below. What they found was an underground thermal hot spring. Shortly after it was made into Canada's first National Park. Today you can walk through a low rocky tunnel and see the beauty that is in this cave. A small hole in the ceiling casts a ray of light making the water sparkle and shows off the amazing natural colors on the walls. The Banff Spring Snail (Physella johnsoni); which is an endangered species of snail no bigger than a small kernel of corn, can be found here.

From there you can venture into the small museum inside that takes a step back in time and shows what life was like back in the 1800's and early 1900's. You then exit out the museum and get a look at the Basin portion of the 'Cave and Basin'. Depending on the time of year it is sometimes filled with all sorts of algae or other interesting looking things on the surface. If you look really closely there is an abundance of the Banff Spring Snails slowly inching along. There is also a theater that has many pictures along the walls showing the good ol' days of the basin when people used to bath in there. And some of the funnier swimsuits that went along with the 1800's. The theater is of decent size and plays a short film that explains the history and founding of the Historical Site pretty well.

The large bathing pool outside closed in earlier 2010 for renovations and is suppose to open in late 2011.

On the outside of the Cave and Basin, there is a 2.7km Marsh Loop that takes you behind and above the Cave and Basin. The majority of the walk is done on a boardwalk with the warm Hot Springs flowing beneath you. It also takes you to the top of the hole where the Cave was first discovered. Elevation is minimal at about 10 meters.

Cave and Basin Historical Site Photos


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