A Stinky Pool in Paradise

Banff’s sulphur hot springs stink. There’s no getting away from it, the smell of sulphur is everywhere and it reeks.

As soon as we pulled up in the car park, the smell invaded everything and it smelt like rotten eggs. Still, we’d never visited hot springs before, and as the saying goes, try everything at least once!

We’d been up Sulphur Mountain the day before and marvelled at the amazing scenery. The basin below is home to the historical site of the first National Park, an information centre and the grotto which housed the sulphur spring.

The grotto was fairly small but the pool within was like something out of a movie.

Surrounded by rock, the green glow of the water reflected all around us. The smell of the sulphur was almost overpowering at times but it was really interesting to see the source of the ‘healing waters’ that people had once flocked to bathe in.

Outside of the cave, a small visitor’s centre provided information on the history of the site. Around the outside of the site, the pool deck provided a walkway around the edge of the pool. Standing up on the higher walls gave a great overview of the site and really highlighted how deep the pools were.

Living in the caves and basin are a species of endangered snail. Although we could get close to the pool edge, we were warned not to put our hands in to avoid upsetting their delicate eco-balance.

We spent the rest of our visit checking out the visitor’s centre and learning more about the basin site before heading up to the hot springs themselves. If you do decide to visit the baths, be warned, they are the hottest waters I have ever been in, and I like my shower set to scalding!

Although the centre only really has enough to keep you entertained for a short visit, it’s well worth a stop, especially if you look out for the red chairs – a great place to sit and take in the view.

Learn more about Banff’s cave and basin here: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ab/caveandbasin

$4 for adults, children go free.

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