When three railway workers stumbled upon a cave full of hot mineral spring waters in 1883, they inadvertently helped create Canada’s first national park. Explore the Cave and Basin, the trails, the historic buildings and the state of the art exhibits.

Banff National Park was the first national park in Canada and it all started with steam venting from a crack in the rocks on the side of a mountain. Indigenous Peoples had known of this site for thousands of years but when a trio of railway workers in 1883 noticed the vent leading to a large cavern full of mineral rich warm water they saw a chance to make money. A small structure was built so paying guests could come “Take the waters” or enjoy a warm soak.

When applying for land titles, the entrepreneurs were denied ownership. The Government of Canada saw this as the perfect first step in creating a national park system. The hot springs and 16 square kilometres surrounding the site were deemed off-limits for sale or settlement. Soon the park boundaries were widened. A town, a bridge over the Bow River and a hotel were constructed so the public could access the Cave and Basin.

Now, the Cave and Basin and the entire Banff National Park is the crowning glory of the Canadian National Parks system and is a part of the UNESCO Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.