The upper hot springs in Banff are an excellent and relaxing way to end a busy day!
Most people seem to visit Sulphur mountain and then go to the Springs afterwards, but we didn't have the time to do both, so opted for a relaxing dip instead.
It was a great experience because we went on a day when the weather was miserable and wet...... its a good feeling to be relaxing in very warm water while rain clouds hang all around you!
We were lucky enough to have hired a car, so the Upper Hot Springs were very easy for us to reach. They are a 5 minute drive south of Banff town centre. I guess there will be buses run back and forth, but you should check just incase.
It costs around $7 per person to enter. Perhaps a little pricey, as the recommended stay in the water is only 15-20 minutes, but its enjoyable nonetheless.
My one complaint about the Upper Hot Springs is the locker system. I think however, it is just because i am used to how things work back home in Scotland.
You need a $1 coin for the lockers. Back home the coins are normally returned when you unlock the locker door.... it works almost like a deposit. However, at the springs, once you put that dollar in, thats it gone. Which means when you come out the water to get your shampoo for a shower, you have to put another $1 coin in to lock the locker again.
Oh, well, i guess this is just how it works in Canada!
We didn't stay at the Banff Springs Hotel, but we did have to walk to it to pick up our hired car (the Hertz Car Hire office is located in the Banff Springs Hotel)
Since we were there, we decided to have a look around anyway....what a place!
If you happen to be in the area, just walk into the main reception. It oozes class, and has a sort of cool medieval feel with its large bricks and arches. Excellent!
The Banff Springs Hotel is not in the centre of Banff, but it will only take you 10-15 minutes to walk to it. Or alternatively, there is a small bus runs from the town centre to the hotel every 30 minutes or so.
To walk to it, simply head south on Banff Avenue. Once at the bottom of the road (on the bridge over Bow River), turn left. This road takes you right up to the hotel.
Construction began on The Banff Springs Hotel in 1888 and was completed in 1928. It catered to the wealthier tourists coming into Banff, and still, unfortunately does with rooms topping $500 CDN during high season. As the hotel is historic, some of the rooms are also extremely small, being around 200 square feet.
However, having a look around costs nothing, and it gives you a chance to experience the grandeur of the hotel, plus explore the maze of common rooms and hallways decorated with furniture from a by-gone era. Visitors are free to wander the grounds and hotel. One time, I discovered a tiny library hidden under a set of stairs, filled with dust-covered books from the early 1900's.
An affordable way ( and I use the term loosely) to experience the hotel is to take part in their famous Sunday brunch, which is approximately $37.00 - $45.00CDN per person, depending if it is during a holiday or not. There is also an excellent Saturday lunch buffet which is probably a better deal at $28.00 per adult. It is exactly the same as the Sunday Brunch minus the breakfast items, which are the run-of-the-mill eggs benny, hash browns, bacon, etc.
Here, you can see the cave and hot springs that started all this crazy business. At the front of the cave, there is a small gift shop and the entrance to the cave. I am happy to report that the exhibits inside has been virtually unchanged for years -- there are interpretive displays, a 30-minute film you can watch, open mineral pools for viewing, plus a couple of mannequins posed in the sulphurous pool inside the cave, representing the railway workers who discovered the cave.
When I was a small child, there was a public swimming pool, and you could even rent swimming costume replicas from the 1920's. Then, the area was closed for many years. Parks Canada does deserve kudos for reopening and restoring the entrance way and pool to the original 1914 architecture, but i'm puzzled why they even bothered to do that much work on the pool, as it's no longer open to the public.
Much more interesting is taking a stroll around the area, as there are interpretive trails explaining the unique ecosystem that surrounds the area, due to the warm water. The main interpretive trail is the Marsh Loop, where you can see tropical fish someone released years ago surviving in the waters. There are also viewing platforms out towards Vermillion Lakes where you can see wildlife such as moose.
Keep your eyes peeled for pine martens (belonging to the weasel family) running around the area; observe their cuteness from a distance as they seem tame but can take your hand off without blinking.
Especially Japanese tour buses. I don't even begin to know exactly why, but Banff is very popular with Japanese tourists. I think it has something to do with a Japanese soap opera that is set in Banff.
Nonetheless, this viewpoint is relatively new -- set up in the past couple of years on a road that crosses the face Tunnel Mountain and heads back into Banff on the other side of the Bow River from Sulphur Mountain (and the Banff Springs).
There is something grand about the Banff Springs Hotel.
Touted as "Canada's Castle in the Rockies", this hotel boasts "opulence and seclusion". It was styled after a Scottish Castle, and only its spectacular setting overlooking the Bow Valley can rival the grandeur of its architecture.
The Banff Springs Hotel opened in 1888 and has been meticulously maintained since then. It has a 27 hole championship golf course, dining, skiing and a spa. If the $500 plus charge for a room is too steep, at least stop by for a look around and perhaps a cup of tea. It makes for a good rainy day pastime. But beware, there is apparantly a ghost lurking in the corridors. It is supposedly that of a young bride who died here on her wedding day after a fall down the stairs.
The Canadian Pacific Railway company began the massive task of constructing a track that spanned the entire country in the 1880's. The company envisioned the potential tourism of the Canadian west and saw the need to build accomodations for those that would ride the rails. At strategic stops along the way, the company constructed magnificent luxury hotels to house their guests, the Banff Springs of course being one of them. These hotels are as much a part of Canadian history as hockey and thankfully they have been preserved very well. The hotel was immaculate and definately worth a look!
A monumental part of Canada's heritage, the Banff Hot Springs were directly responsible for the creation of the first National Park in Canada. In 1885, there was a dispute over who actually owned the hot springs, and the decision to create a National Park ultimately suggested that all Canadians, present and future, had ownership in this Canadian treasure.
First developed in 1901, the springs were laid out in their present form in 1932 and completely renovated in 1996.
At 38 degrees this outdoor pool provides a steamy temptation. It's great if you're not a good swimmer, or a non-swimmer, or if you have arthritis, or any aches and pains from hiking and shopping, to just sit around the edge of the pool and soak up the hot, healing minerals from the natural spring waters.
Our family used to come here at least twice a year (from Calgary where we lived) so my mom could have her replenishing soaks. My brother and I would just goof off like most of the kids and make fun of the "old people" (anyone over 30 was old in our eyes!) sitting around like lumps. Our most enjoyable times were the days it would snow!! Nothing beats sitting comfortably in this big hot jacuzzi watching gigantic snowflakes drifting softly down to the water to melt instantly!
It was Heaven!!!
The hotel was first built on 1888 shortly after the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed. Today it can accomodate 1700 guests in its 770 rooms. it has became one of the major attractions near Banff townsite.
All the amenities of a modern facility are featured in this splendid, historic spa and bath house. Banff's premier attraction features:an outdoor hot pool,day spa, email kiosk, giftshop and cafe. Swimsuits, towels and locker rentals available. Open year-round.
The famous Banff Springs Hotel is one of the biggest attractions in town. It's located above Bow River where it curves and creates Bow Falls.
Bow Falls is not as tall as other waterfalls in Banff National Park. It's more like a cascade but the water can be powerful. On the south bank of Bow River there's a large parking lot that can accommodate dozens of tour buses.
The photo was taken from the north bank of Bow River, along Otter Street, I think. Looking down from hill side, you can see Bow Falls below your feet, and busloads of tourists walking and posing for photos along south bank. And of course, the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel in the backdrop.
I was recommended to go to the Banff Hot Springs when I was there. It is a nice relaxing thing to do after a long hike or even after skiing at the local mountains. They have swimsuits and towels for rent if you aren't prepared. The view of the mountains from the springs is breathtakingly beautiful. When we went, there were not too many people, but some regulars told me that the springs can get quite crowded on the weekends. It's great with chilly weather because staying in the water too long can make you dizzy, yet you can sit out of the water and cool down and get back in after. They have a shallow pool for young children. The facilities are clean and well maintained. Lockers are available.
Well one thing ...i forget what my bathing suit then my mum had to go buy me another one and wasnt not pleased about that at all,until i discorved i had my bathing suit on the entire time underneath my clothes! It was nice going up there it was when i usd to live in alberta I reember for a trip we all went up with carmen and anka to see banff it was AWESOME!
They're extremely relaxing!
You can't stay in too long or you start to get dizzy, but you CAN'T miss it!
It's even more of an experience in the winter, when it's cold outside and you're bathing in hot water.... with snow slowly falling down....
Even if you can't afford to stay there, make sure you make it up to the Banff Springs Hotel. The views from the hotel are spectacular!! If you go at the right time, chances are you'll see some elk walking around the golf greens below the hotel.