Location: 311 Cave Ave, Banff (minutes from the town centre)
Length: Depends on which trails you pick, how long you stay on the boardwalks. Short and sweet!
Time: As long as you want to make it
Elevation Gain: Basically none
I love when an outdoor adventure is accompanied by some local history and ecological exploration. Banff’s Cave and Basin is all of those things! Located just minutes from the town centre, the Cave and Basin is a historic site with a hot spring cave, boardwalk and hiking trails.
There is a large parking lot outside of the first building. It’s a short walk up to the main building where you will find a museum hall with artifacts and information about Banff and the Cave and Basin itself. Walk through a tunnel to the actual cave where the main hot spring is located.
When it was first discovered it was used as a recreation pool for tourists, until it was restored to its natural state in order to protect the endangered Banff Springs Snail and other local species. The snails are tiny and hard to find, so look closely!
Outside there is a great walk in the marsh area where the warm spring water trickles down into the surrounding wetland. Here you can find a ton of species including local as well as tropical ones that were introduced in the 20s. Unfortunately this delicate ecosystem has suffered some extinction of local species like the Banff Longnose Dace Fish due to the introduction of foreign species.
The area is great for bird watching and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous! There are also trails to check out including the Sundance Trail if you want to extend your trip. The Cave and Basin has tons of maps and signs so you can easily find a route. This is definitely a fun place for the whole family to check out.