Banff Upper Hot Springs: A First Time Visitor's Guide

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Hello Friends,

I'm excited to share a series about the Canadian Rockies and the surrounding area. I was born a few hours east of Banff, and will always be proud of my beautiful country. I love the opportunity to share tips for visiting amazing destinations in Canada.

History of Upper Hot Springs

The lower slopes of the springs at Sulphur Mountain is where 3 railway workers stumbled across the springs in 1883. A total of nine sulphurous hot springs were found. Not long after, a business operation was started and people began flocking to the hot springs. The soothing and healing properties of the mineral rich springs are still attracting visitors and locals today.

The temperature of the water outlet fluctuates with the seasons. In the winter the springs can be up to 116 degrees. Surprisingly, the water cooler in the spring- 81 degrees. During the colder months, the natural volume of the springs is lower.  To compensate,  municipal water is tapped in to top off the pool

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Why you should Go

Visiting the hot springs, is definitely a magical experience. I was born 4 hours east of Banff and never visited until a few years ago. I can't believe I waited so long!  Now every time we drive up to Calgary, this stop is a must.

If you get the chance to visit Banff National Park, do check out the 104 degree, soothing pool. The rejuvenating soak will have you on cloud nine. It won't take long to drift off into total relaxation.  The icing on the cake: The panoramic alpine view of the Canadian Rockies. It doesn't get any better than that!  Here you will find some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

The best part for a first time visitor: It only costs 8 bucks to get in. You may stay as long as you like, but 10 minutes in the water at a time is best. If you forget your swimsuit or towels, no worries- you can rent both.

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When to Go

The best time to visit Banff  Upper Hot Springs is on  weekday mornings. It's open all year around. We visited in June and it was a beautiful sunny day. We arrived about 9 a.m on a Friday morning. It wasn't crowded  and there was ample space in the pool.  The temperature at the park was perfect. Of course, it got cooler the higher we drove up the mountain.

I would love to visit the hot springs in the dead of winter, the snow capped Rockies are so breathtaking. Being surrounded my white stuff while soaking in the pool, would be epic!

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Wildlife on the Way Up

On the drive up, we got up close and personal with the big horned boys! I couldn't believe they were having breakfast along side the car. If  I'd realized sooner they were outside my window: I could've reached out to pet one. Ha ha, oh nooo!  I want to keep all five of my fingers- it was tempting though!

The morning moose munch was gumming up the works and stalling traffic up the mountain.  It was worth the wait for sure. I've never seen moose this close to me.  Ya just never know the wild creatures you will run onto in the park. Be sure to get all the scoop on this at the visitor center.

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Non-Soaking Attractions

Next to the hot pool, is the Upper Hot Springs Bathhouse. Inside are exhibits explaining the history and how the springs are today.  Spend some time here, it's great information for a first time visitor.  A poolside restaurant is also yours to enjoy, a gift shop and changing rooms with heated floors.

Hiking and walking trails abound. I don't think I'm brave enough to hike very far, there are too many 4 legged creatures lurking around. Picnic sites are also available.  If you have a furry friend, leave them in the car or at home. Pets are not permitted at the Hot Springs. If you don't make it first thing in the morning, public transportation will be your friend. The parking lot fills ups fast.

On our way up we also saw a group of horse back riders.  Banff offers the best in horse riding adventures. If I ever get brave enough to ride a horse, I'd love to explore the park this way. Horses kind of scare me, they are so huge and powerful.  If you decide to ride off into the wild blue yonder, please take a ride for me too! 

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I hope you can make to the hot springs sometime soon. If you are in the Seattle area, it's about a 12 hour drive from here. Stayed tuned and come back soon for more about the beautiful places to explore in  Alberta!

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  1. This looks surreal. I will be visiting Canada soon, and Banff is definitely on my list. Saving this post for later. Can't wait to get here :)
    Thanks for sharing ..

  2. We did this on our very first visit to the Rockies and I absolutely loved it! It was such a great way to wind down after a long day of activities!

  3. I want to go to Banff so badly! I'll definitely include a hot springs soak after a bunch of hiking when I do go.

  4. Banff is definitely on my list. So much wildlife and hiking. What a dream!

  5. Wow, banff hot springs sound perfect for a relaxing soak. I love that there's hiking trails nearby too, there's nothing better than a hot soak after an amazing hike (I imagine, anyway!)

    Gemma | mum off the map

  6. Such beautiful pictures and I'm sure the contrast in the winter makes it just that much more breathtaking. As an American, Canada has always been on my list because its so close and I will definitely be adding Banff to my itinerary.

  7. I have been wanting to go to Banff ever since I saw amazing pictures from a colleague. Although I love walking, I am not really into hiking. But I can definitely start if the reward is something beautiful like this one.

  8. Oooh I have a question for you if you've been a couple of times. I LOVE natural hot springs (I gut eczema, and they reeeally help my skin) but, at the same time I often can't cope with public swimming pools as the chlorine they put in the water makes my ski really hurt.

    The last couple of times we were in Banff, we didn't go to the hot spring because it looks quite pool-like, and I was worried it would be full of chlorine. Is it? Or do you think I should go there next time we go back to Banff?

    1. HI is more like a pool although it is fed mostly from the Hot Springs...they do top it off with muncipal city water...I am guessing yes it does have Chlorine, but cant say for sure. Id call them if you want to go again. I hope you can make it work!

  9. I haven't been to Banff yet. It looks like an epic place to soak away all your worries in that hot pool. So cheap at only $8 entry