- Cave and Basin National Historic Site is the the best rated tourist attraction in Canada.
Discover history in a completely new way
Since the Cave and Basin is especially interesting historically that is where the focus lies visiting this sight. In a very lovely way this sight brings back the history of the National Park and invites the visitors to look further into the past rather than to focus on the present. Various exhibits explain the spring water occurrence in the area and around the Cave and Basin in connection with other stretches of water. A short film will guide you through Canada's National Park putting emphasis on the protection of the environment and saving plants and wildlife. You will get to know much more about the National Park and the Cave and Basin. Once you understand the importance of the facility, you will look at it with a different point of view than you did before.
Expert-tours through the caves
Some of the older buildings around Cave and Basin were restored to host exhibits and artifacts. These buildings are full of information and fun stuff to learn about. The so-called Story Hall tells the tale of the surrounding area based on pictures and reports, which is a fun and interesting way to get to know the area of Banff National Park even more. If you want to get to know the sight in a more interactive way, there are guided tours through the Cave and Basin. You will be walking with an expert through the caves. The expert guide will give you much more info than any of the information boards and is open to your personal questions at any time. If you have time, you should take a small detour into the woods and experience the beautiful forest. A very special tour is available upon request and registration and should be loads of fun for smaller children. The lantern tour through the stunning caves after nightfall is not only extremely exciting but can be scary at times.
After a tour through the facility you can either buy some souvenirs at the local gift shop or grab a bite to eat at a snack-bar close by. The Cave and Basin is a must-see in Banff National Park and is certainly worth your time. It has great activities for everyone and particularly for families this is a fun and diverse experience.
Exploring the history of the National Park
The entire area around Banff National Park has a huge history to fall back on. In specific parts people found indications of people living there 10.700 years ago. The Cave and Basin play a huge part in the history of the park since the caves are a home to some of the hot springs which Banff National Park is so very famous for. Already in 1859 these springs were discovered during an excursion while the actual site of Cave and Basin was discovered years later. Joe Healy found the site 1875 but did not attach too much importance to it. Then finally the railroad workers Frank McCabe and William McCardell tried to make the caves accessible in 1883 so people would be able to see this miracle of nature. This was prohibited at first by Canadian authorities.
The history of the hot springs
The area was more and more discovered and the true beginnings of Banff National Park can be traced back to 1885. A year later a tunnel was added leading to Cave and Basin which was a touristic success. Through this tunnel people were able to see the caves much better and got to experience the nature up close. In 1912 the first bottles of pure spring water were filled and sold because the rumors of healing spring water exceeded the borders of Banff. The huge success of the hot springs in 1914 lead to the construction of a bathhouse at Cave and Basin which was in operation until 1994. Because of this huge and interesting history of Cave and Basin it was recognized as an official historic and cultural site in Canada in 1981.
How to get there
Starting in Calgary
Follow the Bow Trail driving in western direction leaving the city. At the intersection with the Sarcee Trail turn right onto said trail. After some time change onto the Trans-Canada Highway and follow the road for 110 kilometers (68.4 mi) in the direction of Banff. Take the exit to Banff and keep left onto Banff Avenue which leads directly into the city center.
Once you reached Banff follow Banff Avenue traversing the Bow River. At the first three-way junction after the river turn right onto Cave Avenue. Follow the road until you are at a sharp left-hand bend. You should see the museum on your right-hand side.
Should you arrive at Calgary International Airport there are multiple bus-lines driving from Calgary to Banff and back. In addition, there are daily bus-rides between Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff so you can reach the city center without a problem. When you are with a tourist association some round-trips include the possibility of getting to Banff by train.