Originally Posted by Kid Eh
Awesome.Please tell me more about the hot springs.
The original impetus for the creation of the National Park was when two railway workers in the 1880's discovered a hotspring and pool in a cave on Sulphur Mountain. They descended through a hole in the roof and an industry was born. The original Cave and Basin is now a historic and environmentally protected site (home to the snail darter and other species adapted to the warm water) and was closed as an active swimming pool in the late 1980's (I believe). The Upper Hot Springs which was developed somewhat later (probably in the 1930's) sits just above the base of the Sulphur Mountain sightseeing gondola. Pool temperature is usually around 39 to 40 degrees celsius, and it's a great way to ease muscle aches after a day on the slopes. There is also an undeveloped Middle Hot Springs which was reachable by trail and was the site of numerous nocturnal trysts, but it is now thoroughly wired up and under electronic monitoring to protect snails and other sensitive and unique aquatic life.
The changing rooms, spa, cafe, and gift shop are located in a building that is a fairly typical example of Canadian National Park architecture: granite, rundlestone, and large rough logs or beams. Since you are staying at the Banff Springs you'll see a lot of that anyway. There are three major developed hot springs in the Canadian Rockies parks, Banff, Radium (near Panorama), and Miette (in Jasper but closed during the winter season). If you are really into hotsprings and skiing (as I am) there is also a superb loop between Revelstoke, Whitewater, and Red Mountain that has Halcyon, Nakusp, and Ainsworth hot springs.
Here is the way they look today:
And here is the way they looked in 1932 when they opened:
The two best times to go into the hot springs are when it is snowing big fluffy flakes, or when it is 30 below and the ice and frost form in your hair while you are comfortably staying below water.
Enough on the hot springs yet?