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Birthplace of Canada's national parks: Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

Cave and Basin © Paul Zizka 2013

Discovery Tour

Expérience Canadienne distinctive

As the birthplace of Canada’s National Parks, Cave and Basin National Historic Site connects visitors to the essence of Banff National Park, through nature, culture and history. The sulphurous hot springs were discovered here in 1883 and soon became a major draw. On the Discovery Tour, visitors dip their hands in steamy thermal waters, take an easy boardwalk stroll over pristine marshlands, and learn about Banff's storied past all in the location that started one of the world’s greatest conservation movements.

On a five-stop guided outdoor journey, learn how three railway workers discovered liquid gold in the form of thermal pools; meet apple seed-sized endangered species; experience the grandeur of the 1911 historic bathing pavilion where swimmers first dipped their toes in the warm waters, leading to the later development of world-famous Banff Upper Hot Springs. After the tour, explore the interactive exhibits of Story Hall and enjoy a giant 4-screen, HD journey through Canada’s stunning protected areas and see the dancing lights of the underground Cave, the place that started it all.

The 45-minute tour can be customized and is available in English and French. On-site amenities include a gift shop, café, parking, washrooms, public transit, picnic tables and 7 kms of walking trails. Most of the site, including the Cave, is wheelchair accessible. Ask about enhanced programming, including an after-hours lantern tour. 


The Discovery Tour is offered by knowledgeable Parks Canada staff daily at 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. from May to September for up to seven visitors travelling in a party.

Program Fees:

The tour is free with your site admission for up to seven visitors travelling in a party..

Daily Fees:

Adult - $ 3.90
Senior - $ 3.40
Youth - $ 1.90
Family/Group - $ 9.80 

Travel Trade:

Groups (more than seven) can reserve the Discovery Tour, or customize the national historic site experience with one of our themed experiential programs designed to enrich any visit to Banff National Park. To reserve group tours email