Cave and Basin

Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park

Useful Information

Location: Banff, Alberta. West end of Cave Avenue in the town of Banff.
(51.1691, -115.5915)
Open: 15-MAY to 26-SEP daily 9:30-17.
27-SEP to 15-OCT Wed-Sun, Hol Mon 9:30-17.
16-OCT to 14-MAY Wed-Sun, Hol Mon 11-17.
Fee: Adults CAD 7.90, Children (0-17) free, Senior (65+) CAD 6.60.
Groups (Up to seven people arriving in a single vehicle): Adults CAD 6.60.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=45 min.
Address: Cave and Basin, 311 Cave Ave. Box 900 Banff, Alberta, Canada, T0L 0C0, +1-403-762-1557
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1883 discovered by three railway workers, William and Tom McCardell, and Frank McCabe.
1885 first Canadian National Park.
1886 construction of the first log shack and the Grand View Villa and bathhouse.
1901 Grand View Villa is destroyed by fire, immediately rebuilt.
1915 Upper Hot Springs road opened.
1931 Grand View Villa burns again.
01-JUL-1932 Upper Hot Springs bathhouse opened.
1996 restored bathhouse opened.


Cave and Basin is, as the name says, a cave with a hot spring inside.

In autumn 1883 the cave and the hot springs were discovered by William and Tom McCardell, and their partnerFrank McCabe. They planned to gain ownership of the springs and then build a bathing resort. But the ownership was not easy to gain, the arguments escalated into a legal battle. The government was called to settle the dispute. As they already planned to make a National Park, and this location was ideal, they declared it as Canada's first National Park.

The water of the hot springs is rain from Sulphur Mountain. Most of this water forms the Bow River, but some of it goes down in cracks in the rocks to a depth of 3 km. The water is heated by the earth's molten mantle, and as it gets warmer, it is able to dissolve minerals from the surrounding rock.

The water of the springs contains a high amount of sulfur, which gives them the typical smell of rotten eggs. The reason is hydrogen sulphide H2S which is produced by two common sulphur-bearing minerals: Pyrite FeS2 and Gypsum CaSO4.