Banff Upper Hot Springs – A ‘Must Do’ for any visitor to Banff National Park

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As we stayed in Banff over the Christmas period we found that Banff Upper Hot Springs was a ‘must do’ for anyone visiting Banff, so we locked it in for a day or two after Christmas, as a relaxing way to wind down. See our Video here.

History –

  • Pre-1880’s, the hot springs were used by the indigenous people as a sacred place.
  • 1883 – Workers on the Canadian Pacific railway discovered the Cave and Basin Hot Springs.
  • 1884 – Europeans visited the Upper Hot Springs for the first time.
  • 1886 – the first log shack and the Grand View Villa and bathhouse was constructed.
  • 1901 – the Grand View Villa burnt down, was rebuilt and then in 1931 burnet down again.
  • 1932 – the Upper Hot Springs bathhouse opened, complete with sulfur water swimming pool, plunge baths, steam rooms, tubs, showers and dressing rooms.
  • 1961 – the pool was reconstructed and the bathhouse interior modified.
  • 1995 – Restoration of the bathhouse to its 1932 appearance occurred, and re-opened in August 1996.

Location –

The elevation of Hot Springs, at 1,585 metres, make it the highest in Canada.

The Upper Hot Springs are easily accessible on Route 1 on Roam Transit Service, the stop before the Gondola Station. Hope off the Bus and walk around the corner and up the sloped footpath/walkway to the entrance.

Time your departure from the Springs to the Roam Bus well, otherwise standing out on the road waiting for too long, sucks all the lovely warmth quickly.

Hours –

We were told that the mornings are quieter, so headed in soon after opening, however was still the busy time of year.

The cooler months most days it is open from 10am to 10 or 11pm. The warmer months opens an hour earlier at 9am.

Costs –

A single visit was $7.30 each. Plus you can hire towels and swimmers. We hired the towels, for $1.90 each, but note that they are on the small side, but we preferred the hiring, rather than carrying wet towels around.

There are also plenty of lockers, but they take coins, so ensure you take them, or there is a change machine down near the changerooms. They are $1.00 each use……so don’t do as we did and lock everything up, then realise you forgot something, as then you need another dollar.

What to do, where to go –

  1. You enter at ground level, and then head down the stairs to buy tickets.
  2. There are male and female large changeroom areas.
  3. Changerooms have showers and private cubicles, lockers, swimsuit spinners, hair dryers
  4. It is signed at entry to the changerooms to remove your boots/shoes before heading in – which makes sense so you don’t traipse snow or dirt into the area.
  5. Two exits from each changeroom – one leading directly into the ‘entry to the pool’ ramp, and one coming back into the central area, where the change machine and towel basket etc is – you then head out through doors to the ‘entry to the pool’ ramp.
  6. This area has some racks you could leave your towels or items on, but not secure.
  7. As this area is all still inside, you don’t need slippers or a robe.
  8. While still inside you then walk down a ramp which has ankle deep warm water, that leads outside and gradually descends into the pool.
  9. The water has a sulphur content from the natural springs however due to seasonal changes sometime municipal water is used to top up the pool.
  10. The pool is maintained at between 38 and 40 degrees celsius.
  11. The shallow section is .6m and deepest is 1.4m.
  12. There are ledges along the edges of the pool to sit on, however we didn’t last long as too cool sitting up there.
  13. There are also jets interspaced around the pool walls.
  14. Two life guards are on duty, one inside a cubby hole and one outside.
  15. It is recommended to limit being in the water to 10 mins, then supposedly to sit up on the ledge, however we stayed around half hour.

We loved the Hot Springs and would thoroughly recommend it as a ‘must do’ for your trip.

Further information can be found at their website.

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