Current Water Flow Situation
100% natural mineral water is flowing at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Water Temperature is kept between 37 and 40 degrees celsius or 98 and 104 Fahrenheit.
The top five minerals found in the Banff Upper Hot Springs are:
• Sulfate 572 ppm
• Calcium 205 ppm
• Bicarbonate 134 ppm
• Magnesium 42 ppm
• Sodium 6.6 ppm
At 1,585 meters of elevation (5,200 feet), the Banff Upper Hot Springs is the highest in Canada. This is significant because it's thermal waters must be driven vertically over 2,000 meters, through a big crack in the layers of rock, called the Sulfur Mountain Thrust Fault. That is a remarkably long journey for a hot spring, from deep in the earth’s crust, where it is heated, pressurized and laden with the myriad minerals, which make it unique.
Banff Upper Hot Springs is yours to enjoy year-round. During changes in natural flow, the facility maintains the same level of service and the same operating hours, including the restaurant, gift shop and spa.
How are the hot springs on Sulphur Mountain created?
Travelling beneath the scenery, water may traverse the valley from Mount Rundle to the Upper Hot Springs via cracks and faults in the Rocky Mountains.
When hot springs water reaches the surface, it has not seen daylight for hundreds of years and has travelled over 3 kilometers into the earth's crust. Scientists believe the journey begins as precipitation seeps into Mount Rundle's high western slopes. As the water slowly descends through the sedimentary rock layers, it is heated and pressurized and dissolves high concentrations of minerals. Charged with minerals and warmed by the heat of the earth's crust, the water flows up to the surface along a fault plane. This fault is the Sulphur Mountain Thrust Fault - a big fracture in the mountain where rock layers have slid on top of each other. The fault provides an easy avenue for water to flow along until it emerges at one of the outlets here on Sulphur Mountain.
Each of the hot springs on Sulphur Mountain show seasonal effects as they emerge at the Cave and Basin, the Middle Springs, and the Upper Hot Springs outlets. Cold winter temperatures prevent water from entering the hot spring system. As a result, the pressure drops and the stream of hot water ebbs to an average of 500 liters per minute at the Upper Hot Springs. This rate of flow would fill your bathtub 2 times in a minute and be as hot as 47°C/116°F.
When spring arrives, the reverse happens. As the system is replenished by rain and melting snow, the pressure in the system rises. You could now fill your tub 4 times in a minute with this flow of 900 litres or more. The temperature normally drops at that this time of year reaching a minimum of 27° C/81°F.
This amount of water is more than we can pump into the Hot Springs at once, so not all source water in the system is used.
What makes hot springs water unique?
Like gourmet blends of coffee, a hot spring's water features a signature mix.
Each Rocky Mountain Hot Spring has its own unique blend of minerals, gases and temperature. Even the Sulphur Mountain hot springs show variations in mineral content and temperature. The Banff Upper Hot Springs is the hottest of these springs. Other hot springs in nearby parks come from different underground systems.
Miette and Radium Hot Springs exhibit the same ebb and flow effects that seasonal changes cause. However, the volumes of water emerging from these springs are much greater than at the Banff Upper Hot Springs and flow in winter is never interrupted in spite of drought or other conditions.