Banff, Alberta is one of a kind, but it was also a first-of-its-kind!

Located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains this enchanting destination is the foundation of Canada’s National Park system and it all started at the Cave and Basin.

Now a place to gather and share stories about conservation, these beautiful thermal springs were known to Indigenous Peoples for over 10 thousand years, but weren’t recognized by the government until 1883 when three railway workers happened to stumble upon them.

“Considering the archaeological evidence of human habitation in the Bow Valley that dates back 10,000 years, and First Nations stories about the cave and warm waters we know that these Canadian Pacific Railway workers were not the first to discover these springs,” it says on the Parks Canada website.

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Photo via Parks Canada / Kahli April

“But, recognizing the potential profit flowing in these mineral waters, the railway workers erected a fence around their “discovery” and built a log cabin near the entrance to the cave.”

Since then, the area has been well established and people have come from all over the world to see its incredibly blue water and breathtaking boardwalk.

Swimming, in the mist-filled cave, however? That’s no longer allowed.

While people used to be able to go for a dip in the water, they are now encouraged to visit the interpretive exhibits, hike, bike or snowshoe the Sundance Trail nearby instead – but it’s still worth the visit, especially in the warmer months!

From June to September, visitors are also able to take lantern-lit tours in the evenings – a must as long as you’re not afraid of the dark.

Still want to visit? Admission costs $9 per adult, $7.50 for seniors and is free for those 17 and younger – so check it out and watch, listen, learn, and be respectful.

This is truly one of the most important spots in the country!

Cave and Basin, Alberta

Where: 311 Cave Ave, Banff, AB
Cost: $9 (for adult general admission)