The freshly renovated historic site in Banff includes a new interpretive centre. (Alana Baker/CBC)

Banff's Cave and Basin National Historic Site reopened Friday after undergoing a three-year renovation.  

The sulphurous hot springs were discovered in the late 1800s and soon became a major draw for visitors to the area.

The $13.8-million renovations to the Cave and Basin, announced in 2009, were to include restoration of its historic buildings, a new plaza and interpretive displays and restoration of habitat for the endangered Banff Springs snail.

From 1914 until the early 1990s the site had a naturally heated swimming pool but they have been removed.

The project leader Steve Malins said that was a difficult decision.

"We really laboured over that, but it frankly would have taken most of our budget to get the pool up and going and then there's just the sustainability of the pool after that."

Interpreter Amar Athwal said great care was taken during construction to not disturb the endangered Banff Springs Snaill which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

"The snails tell us how far we have come. In the early days in a national park we had hunting, we had trapping going on, and here today we're looking after this wonderful little creature, the snails."

Historical site

Prime Minister John A. Macdonald created the Banff Hot Springs Reserve in 1885, marking the beginning of Canada’s national parks system.  

Susan Kennard, the manager of heritage programs in Banff, said she wants visitors to recognize the site for its history.

"People know it as the Cave and Basin, but we really want them to know it as the birthplace of Canada’s national parks," she said.