|Checking out the Original Thermal Water Basin at the Historic Site|
The thermal waters that the railway workers discovered in 1883 didn't exactly bring them the liquid gold or riches that they were hoping for, but they did birth the first National Park and paved the way for an entire park system across our country. THIS is history worth checking out while you are in Banff before you visit the commercial hotsprings that we have today.
|The Banff Upper Hotsprings as we have them today|
Aside from history, why else would you visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff?
First of all, entrance to the site is included with your National Parks Discovery Pass!
Few people know that, but if you have an annual park pass to get into the National Parks of Canada, you can visit historic sites like Cave and Basin as much as you want. I for one, did NOT know that. If I had, I'm positive we would have visited the source of the Banff Hotsprings a looooooong time ago because I've always been fascinated by the underground cave that contains the original mineral pool, and the protected Banff Springs Snail, found nowhere else on this planet.
|The Cave at the Historic Site|
|The Thermal Pool inside the Cave|
Second, the Cave and Basin Historic Site offers much more than a history lesson.
The site has been completely renovated or "renewed" over the last couple of years with year-round programming and interactive exhibits. What's NEW:
- Interpretive media exhibits including a new 4 screen HD video that takes you across Canada's National Parks, Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas
- Tours and guided interpretive programs
- Evening programs including a cinema under the stars on the original pool deck used by early tourists to the Banff Hotsprings, lantern tours and stargazing.
- Winter programs including ice skating on a new ice rink that's been built onto the historic pool deck
- Fun family-friendly events such as Magic Winter Saturday Nights and the Banff Winter Carnival, happening this month from March 26th through the 30th.
For a list of all events happening at the Cave and Basin Historic Site including the upcoming winter carnival, lantern tours, and cinema under the stars, visit the park website here.
|Skating on the Historic Hotsprings Pool Deck|
|The Skating Rink and Site of Cinema under the Stars|
Finally, for the outdoor family, there are hiking trails that all start right from the Cave and Basin site.
The Sundance Canyon Trail has been a favourite Banff trail of ours for years now AND it's stroller friendly once the snow melts on a scenic paved trail that's also good for a family bike ride. For a shorter stroll, check out the Discovery Boardwalk or the Marsh Loop.
|Hiking the Sundance Canyon Trail|
We did the Discovery boardwalk hike on our visit last weekend and it was really cool to see the cave vent that the railway workers would have found so many years ago. We also enjoyed checking out two small springs on the hillside that were bubbling and alive with different colours of algae.
|Looking Down into the Cave Vent|
|Exploring on the Discovery Boardwalk Trail|
|Checking out the Thermal Springs on the Discovery Trail|
It was our first time visiting the Cave and Basin Historic Site but we'll definitely be back and the marsh trails are a lot of fun in the spring when you can search for rare plants and wild orchids. Now that we know of all the cool programs happening at the site, we'll also be checking the calendar more regularly!
|Exploring the Cave and Basin Discovery Trail|
|Relaxing at the Banff Upper Hotsprings in the Snow|
More ideas can also be found in my previous story: Celebrating Spring Break in Banff.