Cave and Basin National Historic Site

#10 in Best Things To Do in Banff
Cave and Basin National Historic Site picture1 of 2
Cave and Basin National Historic Site2 of 2
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Key Info

311 Cave Ave.

Price & Hours

CA$3.90 (about $3) for adults; free for youths...
9 or 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Details

Natural Wonders, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
3.5

scorecard

  • 3.5Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

This is a popular attraction among nature lovers and history buffs alike. Experts refer to this site as the birthplace of Banff National Park and the natural hot springs have lured travelers in search of solace for years. Although the original springs are no longer open to the public (the Banff Upper Hot Springs are the new hot spot for comfort-seekers), the Cave and Basin National Historic Site does feature interactive displays educating visitors on local wildlife and the history behind the park's establishment.

Travelers who stopped here while in Banff said this a must-visit, not only for its historical significance but also for the stunning views. Others commend the informative displays and friendly staff. If you have time, you should plan to tag along on the hour-long, guided Discovery Tour, which is included in the cost of admission. The tour explains how railway workers first discovered the thermal pools and their uses and allows participants to dip their hands in the steamy thermal waters.

Sitting a mile west of Banff Town, the Cave and Basin National Historic Site operates different hours depending on the season (a detailed schedule is available on the Parks Canada website). Generally, it welcomes visitors from 9 or 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission costs CA$3.90 per adult (about $3) and free for youths 17 and younger. Along with the site's interactive exhibits, you'll also find a gift shop, a cafe, parking, restrooms, picnic tables and more than 4 miles of walking trails. 

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#1 Banff Sunshine Village

Located miles 11 miles west of Banff Town, Banff Sunshine Village offers 12 lifts, more than 3,300 skiable acres and a peak elevation of 7,200 feet. And thanks to its location straddling the Continental Divide, Sunshine sees more snow than its neighbors, meaning the ski season here is long – typically from early November to late May. The powdery terrain beckons skiers of all levels (another point of praise from recent travelers), and the Sunshine Mountain Lodge offers a great setting for dinner and drinks after a day on the slopes. 

If you're not in Banff for ski season, you should still make a point to visit Sunshine, according to reviewers. From mid-June to early autumn, the Sunshine Meadows are open for hiking and provide visitors spectacular alpine views of the surrounding peaks, including Mount Assiniboine. Hiking is free and so is the shuttle from town, which runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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