The Banff Hot Springs is one of those must-do things to do in Banff National Park. They are the perfect thing for any visitor to do when you want a chill day or after a long hike or day out skiing in Banff. Besides soaking in the hot springs, there’s a lot of interesting history here too!
Here’s all you need to know about visiting the Banff Hot Springs!
What are the Banff Hot Springs?
Back in 1883, railway workers discovered natural hot springs at the base of Sulphur Mountain. It was well known to the Indigenous community, who often went. Hot water and steam were flowing out of a cave on the lower slopes of Sulfur.
They found this hot spring was one of nine sulfurous hot springs on the mountain (hence the name). Soon people from all over were flocking to Banff to soak and be cured in these natural waters, which were said to have healing properties.
These mineral-rich springs then became known as the Banff Hot Springs. Today the Banff Upper Hot Springs are still open to the public.
These Alberta hot springs are located at 1,585 meters of elevation, making them the highest hot spring in Canada.
How Hot do the Banff Hot Springs Get?
The Banff Upper Hot Springs water is geothermal, coming from the earth’s crust 3 km down.
The hot spring water flows from the earth’s crust through a big crack of rock called the Sulphur Mountain Thrust Fault. As the water flows down the mountain, it picks up more heat and minerals.
In the spring, the water flows at over 900 liters per minute (highest in the year). In the winter, the water flow is drastically decreased.
The natural temperature of the water depends on the season. In the winter, you can expect a temperature of 45-50°C; also, the water flow is lower during this time, and municipal water heated is used to top up the water. Typically water temperatures are kept between 37-40°C (98-104°F)
Where are the Banff Hot Springs?
At the base of Sulphur Mountain, which is located at the end of Mountain Ave. Near the Banff Gondola and parking area for Sulphur mountain. Here is the exact location on Google Maps.
How to Get to the Banff Hot Springs?
There is really limited parking at the Banff Hot Springs, so to ensure you get to enjoy the hot springs to the fullest it may be worth it to take public transport to the Banff Hot Springs during the peak season.
If you have a bike in Banff it’s a short bike up to the Upper Hot Springs, or you can catch the bus. The Banff Upper Hot Springs can also be reached by ROAM bus Route 1. Take Route 1 up Sulphur Mountain to the Upper Hot Springs parking lot then follow the sidewalk along the road up a short hill to Banff Upper Hot Springs.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Banff Hot Springs?
I personally love visiting the Banff Hot Springs in the winter, when the snow is falling ever so nicely all around. It’s a feeling of peace one doesn’t get often. I would also suggest visiting the Banff Hot Springs in either the early morning or the evening.
It gets crowded come midday hours, and essentially turns into one big swimming pool. The Banff Hot Springs are one of the most visited attractions in Banff. It’s estimated that over 300,000 people visit every year, take with that information what you will when determining your Banff itinerary.
What Facilities are at the Banff Hot Springs?
The Banff Hot Springs has a cafe on the upper level and is where you grab a meal or coffee. There are also changing facilities with washrooms, showers, and one-time use lockers.
Everyone must shower with soap before entering the pool. You can rent swimsuits and towels as well. There is also a gift shop at the hot springs as well.
What are the Minerals Found in the Banff Hot Springs?
Sulphate, Calcium, Bicarbonate, Magnesium, Sodium.
How Much are the Banff Hot Springs?
- Adult – $16.50
- Youth – $14.25
- Child (Under 3) – Free
- Senior – $14.25
- Family – $53.00
- Swimsuits – $2
- Towel – $2
- Locker – $1.25
Things to Know About Visiting the Banff Hot Springs
- Entry to the Banff Hot Springs are first come/first serve. You cannot make reservations for the hot springs.
- The Banff Hot Springs are open daily from 10am to 10pm.
- Banff Hot Springs asks that you limit your stay to under 60 minutes.
- The last entry is at 9:30pm.
- There are lifeguards on duty.
- Rental towels may be purchased. Alternatively, you can rent a towel or swimsuit if need be.
Are the Banff Hot Springs Worth Visiting?
This may be a very unpopular local opinion, but I don’t think the Banff Hot Springs are anything more than a warm swimming pool in the mountains. Sure, the views are amazing and it is a cheap thing to do in Banff, but if you have a limited amount of time in Banff you may want to utilize your hours somewhere else.
In the summer months, the hot springs are very popular unless you visit first thing in the morning, and you may find them to be one of the more crowded experiences in Banff. This is certainly not my cup of tea when in the mountains.
That being said they are an iconic piece of history and if you are dead set on visiting, you’ll be able to spend a great 1-2 hours here. The Banff Hot Springs can easily be combined with the Banff Gondola experience as well.
You can often get great views in a hot tub at one of the best Banff hotels. My personal favorites are the hot tubs and sauna at The Moose Hotel on Banff Avenue or head to Canmore and book a stay at The Malcolm. Hot tub views of Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle don’t get much better!
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking in the Rockies: Purchase an AllTrails subscription to have a mobile map on you as you hike.
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out Safetywing or HeyMondo offers competitive rates for all travelers.
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our complete Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest either renting a car to get around, you can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip with companies like Outdoorsy.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards.
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The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for the Canadian Rockies’ travel advice and information. Including hike info and off-season travel information. This is also where you can meet one another when you need adventure buddies.
3 thoughts on “All You Need to KNOW About Visiting the Banff Hot Springs (2023)”
Very helpful coming to Banff June 22 for only about 36 hours lake Louise tour 4 hours is already pre planned but I will be definitely try to fit in gondola and hot springs after reading your article
Thank you ..as coming from Scotland trying to squish in as much as possible
Hi Natasha, your information has been very helpful regarding planning our upcoming stay in Banff at the end of May. We are staying at the Rimrock Hotel for 3 nights so will be taking the gondola up Sulphur Mountain and visiting the hot springs and you answered some of my queries. Is it worth taking the chairlift from Banff and lunching at the Cliffhouse Bistro, or should we eat at the restaurant at the top of Sulphur Mountain? We’ve booked afternoon tea at Lake Louise, is it worth the money, as we can still cancel. Your opinion would be gratefully received.
Thanks again for your help, Ann
Hi Ann, I would say if you are already doing the Banff Gondola up Sulphur and have lunch at the Sky Bistro you should skip the Cliffhouse Bistro and chairlift. Although the views are different, the experience is similar so perhaps plan another activity.
Personally, (as I don’t care much for afternoon tea+small plates) I do not think that afternoon tea is worth the price tag. As you can enjoy the views of Lake Louise for free. However, everyone’s opinion is different and some really enjoy afternoon tea. If you are going to do it, it’s hard to find a more beautiful place. Another option is to hike to the Lake Agnes Teahouse and have tea and a scone there https://thebanffblog.com/lake-agnes-teahouse-hike/