Banff Upper Hot Springs Dried Up

1923 – The first year the Upper Hot Springs Dried Up

Banff Upper Hot Spring Dried Up
Okay, so it isn’t this kind of drying up.
Not even close. But it is a cool photo.

Yes its true. It happened in 1923. Banff Upper Hot Springs dried up. Then again in 1970. Now if you go to the Upper Hot Springs in Banff this winter there will be water in the pool. Plenty of it. The only problem is, the water will be from the Town of Banff and not mineral water from the hot springs.

For quite a few years now, each winter the flow from the spring slows to a trickle or stops altogether necessitating the (some might say drastic measure) filling of the pool with town water, then heating it artificially. Because the elevation of the Upper Hot Springs is so high, it takes a great deal of underground water pressure to bring that water to the surface. During the cold winter months, there is very little water seeping into the Sulfur Mountain thrust fault to be heated and pressurized and sent all the way back up the mountain. Thus the Banff Upper Hot Springs dried up. When warm spring temperatures arrive, the snow pack melts increasing the supply and pressure of H2O down there and thus sending enough piping hot water up to the higher elevation to fill up and replenish the pool.

A Casualty of When the Hot Springs Dried Up

Banff Upper Hot Springs Dried Up
In the winter there is plenty of water about.
It’s just locked up as ice and snow
until the Spring.

Now the Banff Springs Snail is a victim of this seasonal drought. They have adapted to warm water that is lower in oxygen but higher in hydrogen sulfide which the Hot Springs are. Because the Banff Upper Hot Springs dried up for a number of winters in a row, the snail has completely disappeared from the Upper source. Though there is some good news in that you can still see the largest population of the Banff Springs snail at the Cave and Basin. Yes it is open again. It seems like it has been years since it has been open. Every time I went to take the persons of smaller stature there it appeared to be in a constant state of renovation. They were beginning to think that I had made up the whole idea of the Cave. Even after walking overtop the thing and seeing the grated hole in the ground they were still skeptical. I’ll show them… one day. I will.

Banff Upper Hot Springs Dried Up
Catching snowflakes never gets old.

The Banff Upper Hot Springs Are Important All Year

It is no secret by any means that Banff Upper Hot Springs dried up each winter for a number of years now. I suppose the Parks Canada folks could close the Upper Hot Springs down for the winter but man that would sure bum out a pile of snow boarders and skiers. And me. I don’t mind the town water so much. I still get to stare at Mount Rundle while trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue – all the while chillaxing in that really big bathtub.

As of February of 2014 there has been an update on the water flow at Banff Upper Hot Springs. To continue being kept informed about all things hot springs, check-in with Hot Springs Guide often.


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