Banff is a popular spot to stop and definitely a place all our guests from out of province seem to request. Every trip through the park and within the town site of Banff we have looked at the sign for Cave and Basin and remark that we should go there one day. Well as it turned out today was that day.
The popular tourist hot spot is located south east of the town centre and is easy to find if you follow the signs. While well known to indigenous people of the area, it was first ‘discovered’ by railway workers in 1883 and ultimately became the birthplace of Canada’s National Parks in 1887.
When you enter the historic site, you are directed past a host of educational signage that describe the the cave and mineral spring before walking down a tunnel to the spring itself. Inside you find the warm mineral spring which remarkably is the only home of a tiny, endangered species of snail called the Banff Spring Snail (Physella johnsoni). The waters are a tropical, aquamarine colour More impressive than the colour is the soft echo of water falling off the various mineral formations.
Once you emerge from the ‘cave’ you are once again immersed in educational displays describing the history of the site and the historical use of national parks. It is a nostalgic journey through time.
Outside the building, the original man made pool has been transformed into a courtyard rich in displays of period craftsmanship, culinary skills and folk art. There still exists one of the “original” mineral pools outside which despite having a strong sulphur smell looks like something straight out of the Caribbean.
This was a beautiful stop full of beauty, history and a wealth of information. Certainly much more than we could have imagined. This will certainly become one of our favourite destinations to share with our guests!