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Exploring Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

Program Number: 3856RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/23/2013 - 7/1/2013; 9/6/2015 - 9/14/2015; 7/3/2016 - 7/11/2016; 7/17/2016 - 7/25/2016; 7/24/2016 - 8/1/2016; 8/7/2016 - 8/15/2016; 8/21/2016 - 8/29/2016; 9/4/2016 - 9/12/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Banff, Alberta
Price starting at: $2,288.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: On the Road; National Parks
Meals: 20; 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Straddling the Continental Divide for 14,300 square miles, the seven contiguous Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are richly adorned with mountain peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, limestone caves and fossils. Explore in depth three of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites to see how they each bear distinct ecological, geological and historical characters while sharing a common rugged beauty renowned worldwide.


• Explore Banff, Yoho and Jasper national parks with experts and learn about their rich geological history.
• Experience a bird’s eye view of the Continental Divide and Victoria Glacier atop the Lake Louise Gondola.
• Travel aboard a specially designed ice explorer to the middle of the breathtaking Athabasca Glacier.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day on uneven terrain; altitudes of more than 3,000 feet in Jasper, 4,500 feet in Banff. Good walking shoes recommended.

Date Specific Information

6-23-2013, 9-6-2015, 7-3-2016, 7-17-2016, 7-24-2016, 8-7-2016, 8-21-2016, 9-4-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Independent arrival Banff, 2 nights; coach to Lake Louise, 2 nights; coach to Jasper, 2 nights; coach to Banff, 2 nights; independent departure.


A storied gateway to Banff National Park — with more than 25 mountain peaks towering over 8,000 feet — Banff welcomes adventurers and nature-lovers to take in the alpine wonders and colorful history of the Canadian Rockies.


Located within a national park, the municipality of Jasper shares its governance with the Parks Canada Agency. Born as a fur-trade supply depot in the early 1800s, the 4,000-resident town benefits from the nearly 3 million visitors that pass through Jasper National Park annually.

Banff: Family-owned inn. Lake Louise: Inn with mountain views. Jasper: Centrally located lodge.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Ben Gadd

Ben Gadd is one of Canada’s better-known naturalists and Rockies writers. Author of the ground-breaking “Handbook of the Canadian Rockies,” Ben has written eight other books and contributed to several more. His novel, “Raven’s End,” has become a prize-winning Canadian best-seller. Ben has received three Banff Mountain Book Festival awards for his work. Educated as a geologist, Ben has pursued a career mainly in natural history, including a stint as a Parks Canada naturalist. He has also taught writing at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Grant MacEwan College. For nearly 30 years, he has worked in the summer as a freelance interpretive guide — he is one of only six master guides in Canada’s professional Interpretive Guides Association — and in the winter as a writer and sought-after lecturer on Rockies topics. Heard frequently on CBC radio, Ben has also appeared in many television items and several documentaries on the Rockies.
Kirsten Schmitten

Kirsten Schmitten has spent over 30 years exploring, researching, writing and working in the Canadian Rockies. From her career as a park naturalist to her adventures with her warden husband, Kirsten’s love and knowledge of the natural and cultural history of Jasper makes her a captivating and sought after speaker. She is the owner of All Things Wild, a company specializing in connecting people to the natural and cultural history of Jasper National Park.
Colleen Campbell

Colleen Campbell is a Victoria, B.C., native who has lived all over Canada and in many parts of the world. She holds three degrees in visual arts, has studied in the sciences and has worked as a wildlife field researcher, concentrating on coyotes and grizzly bears. She notes that studying wildlife means learning about all their interactions — plants and other animals — and about how and where they travel. Colleen was also full-time faculty at Mount Royal in Calgary for more than 30 years.
Meals and Lodgings
   Irwin's Mountain Inn
  Banff, Alberta 2 nights
   Lake Louise Inn
  Lake Louise, AB 2 nights
   Amethyst Lodge
  Jasper, Alberta 2 nights
   Irwin's Mountain Inn
  Banff, Alberta 2 nights
 Irwin's Mountain Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: Family owned and operated for over thirty years, Irwin's Mountain Inn was completely reconstructed by the fall of 1995 making the property one of Banff's newer accommodations. Originally built in 1967 by Paul and Elizabeth Irwin with their two sons, Arlen and Larry, Irwin's Motor Inn was recognized as one of the best values in Banff. With farming as their previous livelihood, the Irwins extended the same hospitality to their guests at the motel as was characteristic of the way they greeted and treated visitors and friends to their farm. A tradition of hospitality and friendliness was established in those early years and the Management to this day still endeavors to live up to Paul and Elizabeth's example in the service and quality of comfort they provide guests to Irwin's Mountain Inn. The name has changed and three times the motel has undergone major rebuilding phases, but the standard of excellence in hospitality that Paul and Elizabeth Irwin exemplified over thirty years ago still serves as the benchmark for the next generation of Irwins that share in the ownership and management of the Irwin's Mountain Inn.
  Contact info: 429 Banff Avenue
Banff, AB T1L 1B2 Canada
phone: 403-762-4566
  Room amenities: Satellite TV and movie channel.
  Facility amenities: •The El Toro Restaurant serving Breakfast and Dinner •10 Person Jetted Tub •Fitness Centre •Elevator •4 Person Sauna •Free Wireless Internet •Cable TV •Coin Operated Internet Kiosk •Coin Laundry •100% non-smoking
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call for availability & rates Please contact the hotel directly on your own OR if you require personal assistance contact Maritime Travel toll free at 1-888-905-5959. A service fee MAY apply.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call for availability & rates Please contact the hotel directly on your own OR if you require personal assistance contact Maritime Travel toll free at 1-888-905-5959. A service fee MAY apply.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Lake Louise Inn
Type: Inn
  Description: The Lake Louise Inn is a modern mountain resort nestled in a picturesque setting near the Pipestone River. Situated in five buildings, the 232 tastefully appointed guest rooms offer something to fit every style and budget. Most of the eight room types feature a view of the outdoors. Amenities include: a heated indoor pool, whirlpool, steam room, gift shop/newsstand, games area, and laundromat. The Village of Lake Louise is a 5-minute walk away with access to a variety of shops and services. Free parking available. On-site dining facilities include Legends restaurant, Timberwold Pizza and Pasta cafe, and the Explorers Lounge.
  Contact info: 210 Village Road
Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0 Canada
phone: 800-661-9237
  Room amenities: Color TV, telephone, clock radio, coffee maker, hairdryers and 4-piece private baths in all guest rooms. Dial-up internet service available in guest rooms.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Amethyst Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: The Amethyst Lodge is close to the center of Jasper and just a short walk from rail and bus terminals, museum and art galleries. Amazing wildlife viewing and unspoiled wilderness are just blocks away.
  Contact info: 200 Connaught Drive
Jasper, AB T0E 1E0 Canada
phone: 780-852-3394
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a number of amenities, including: in-room coffee makers and hair dryers and two outdoor hot tubs. A coin-operated laundry facility is nearby.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Independent arrivals, Banff, Alberta. Hotel check-in is 4:00 pm., welcome dinner is at 6:00 pm. You will be staying at Irwin's Mountain Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Breakast is at 7:30 am; independent departures after breakfast, Banff, AB. Check-out of hotel is 11:00 am. You will be staying at Irwin's Mountain Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. A passport is required for ALL travel to/from Canada. A US law known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires those traveling to/from the United States by land & sea to also have a passport or other appropriate secure documents (NEXUS card). Passport requirements are subject to change. Visit for information.
  Parking availability:
Complimentary parking is available at the Banff hotel for the duration of the program, based on availabilty. Subject to change. For more information, please contact the hotel directly at 403-762-4566.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Banff, Alberta
  From End of Program
  Location: Banff, Alberta
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Calgary to Banff


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Banff Airporter
phone: 888-449-2901
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $55 CDN
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


1.5 hours 


The Banff Airport offers regular scheduled service from the Calgary airport to Banff. For current fare & schedule information visit or call-toll free 1-888-449-2901. Shuttle fee is non-refundable (insurance is available - please enquire with the shuttle company). Shuttle fee is non-refundable (insurance is available - please enquire with the shuttle company).




To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Banff Airporter
phone: 888-449-2901
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $55 CDN
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approximately 1.5 hours 


The Banff Airport offers regular scheduled service from Banff to Calgary airport. For current fare & schedule information visit or call-toll free 1-888-449-2901. Shuttle fee is non-refundable (insurance is available - please enquire with the shuttle company).

Driving Directions
  Calgary (East) Take the Trans-Canada Highway # 1 towards Banff. Take the Banff exit and turn left onto Banff Avenue. Continue to follow Banff Avenue and you will see the hotel on the right, at 429 Banff Avenue. Approximate distance from Calgary is 86 miles (140 km) along the Trans-Canada Highway.
  Kootenay (South) Travel North on Highway BC-95N. Turn right onto Kootenay Hwy/BC-93N. Continue onto AB-93N and take a slight right toward Trans-Canada Highway/AB-1E, taking the AB-1E ramp to Banff. Turn right toward Banff Avenue and right onto Banff Avenue. You will see Irwin’s Mountain Inn on your right, at 429 Banff Avenue.
Elevation Note: Altitudes reaching up to 4,540 feet in Banff and up to 3,484 feet in Jasper.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Independent Arrivals/Introductions
(Sunday, June 23)
 Arrive To: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Independent arrivals and transfers to the program hotel after 4:00 pm. Please note that rooms are not generally available until mid to late afternoon.
 Dinner: Enjoy casual dining at the hotel.
 Evening: INTRODUCTIONS: Following dinner, you will meet for introductions, a review of the program and site orientation.
Accommodations: Irwin's Mountain Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Cave and Basin National Historic Site/Early Explorers
(Monday, June 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Cave and Basin. For generations, warm waters percolating through Sulphur Mountain were used for ceremonial purposes. In 1883, the same hot springs were rediscovered by CPR railway workers, and the notion to protect natural and cultural treasures in Canada was born shortly thereafter. Meet with a Parks Canada expert and learn about the birthplace of Canada's National Park system. Travel the Bow River by a voyageur canoe, beneath towering, snowcapped peaks, and search for elk, coyotes, bears, and bighorn sheep.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Whyte Museum. Explore one of Banff's most culturally significant museums, and learn of the remarkable history of some of the locals and their cultural past. The museum features an art gallery and a vast collection of photographs telling the history of early explorers, artists and the Canadian Pacific Railway.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: FREE EVENING: Explore independently the sights and sounds of Banff. For live entertainment, check out one of the local pubs or the Banff Centre (
Accommodations: Irwin's Mountain Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Yoho National Park/Takakkaw Falls/Moraine Lake/Emerald Lake
(Tuesday, June 25)

Note: Trail walk around Emerald Lake is an easy 3 mile (5 km) walk with no elevation gain.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at your hotel.
 Morning: PRESENTATION/FIELD TRIP: Lake Louise and Yoho National Park. Discover the geological highlights of the Rockies with Ben Gadd, renowned naturalist and author of the ground-breaking Handbook of the Canadian Rockies.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Trail walk around Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake is another jewel of the Canadian Rockies, and is one of the few lakes with a trail all the way around it. Thanks to its position of the west side of the Great Divide in Yoho National Park, a 360 degree tour of Emerald yields up four very different environments: a huge avalanche path, the normal forest, a dry and dramatic alluvial fan and the towering trees of the coastal rainforest.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel in Lake Louise.
 Evening: Free evening. You may remain with your Group Leader to continue exploring local sites or take the opportunity to head off on your own to discover Lake Louise.
Accommodations: Lake Louise Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Grizzly Bears and Glaciers/Victoria Glacier/Lake Louise
(Wednesday, June 26)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: PRESENTATION: Meet with an expert biologist and conservationalist who will present on "Sharing the Land with Grizzly Bears". The Bow Valley is considered an internationally significant wildlife migration corridor. The Lake Louise area is considered significant for its critical grizzly bear, elk, lynx, bighorn sheep and mountain goat habitat. As protected areas, the mountain national parks make a significant contribution to grizzly bear conservation in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem. These parks can contribute refuge in the greater landscape. But this requires special considerations for how we share this landscape with bears. Hear how Parks Canada is managing land use and management policies. FIELD TRIP: The Lake Louise Gondola is one of the best places to see grizzly bears in their natural environment. You may experience this rare and awesome spectacle of nature if lucky fromt he comfort of an enclosed gondola. Enjoy views of Lake Louise and Victoria Glacier from the top of the mountain. Moraine Lake, surrounded by peaks and a deep teal in color, is nothing less than stunning and sits in the gorgeous Valley of the Ten Peaks.
 Lunch: Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
 Afternoon: EXCURSION: Explore the Chateau Lake Louise with a local historian. For those looking for a moderate hike, consider the 2.8 miles (4.5 km) Lake Louise Loop.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Lake Louise Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Mountains to Glaciers/Icefields Parkway/Columbia Icefields Glacier Adventure/Arrive in Jasper
(Thursday, June 27)

Note: There are stairs leading up to the entrance of the Columbia Icefields Interpretive Centre, but there is a higher parking lot with a ramp for easier access. The remainder of the field trip is completed by coach, which is wheelchair accessible.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at your hotel
 Morning: PRESENTATION: Mountains to Glaciers. The Icefields Parkway, linking Lake Louise to Jasper, remains one of the most spectacular stretches of scenic driving in Canada. The highway follows a lake-lined valley between two chains of the Eastern Main Ranges, which make up the Continental Divide. The mountains here are the highest, craggiest and maybe the most scenic in all of the Rockies. FIELD TRIP: The Columbia Icefields Glacier Adventure. The vast Columbia Icefield is a big frozen river whose meltwaters feed many rivers, creeks and lakes. Experience this amazing landscape by stepping out onto the glacier.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: We continue our journey to Jasper National Park. This scenic drive is lined with beautiful mountain lakes and more than 100 glaciers providing a dramatic backdrop. This scenic drive along the Icefields Parkway is lined with one beautiful mountain lake after another, with more than 100 glaciers providing a dramatic backdrop. Keep an eye out for mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the cliffs along the way. In the spruce forest above the Sunwapta River, watch for for grizzly bears during spring, summer and fall.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel in Jasper.
 Evening: PRESENTATION: History of Jasper. Our expert naturalist will discuss the history and development of Jasper National Park.
Accommodations: Amethyst Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Maligne Canyon/Pyramid Lake/Jasper National Park
(Friday, June 28)

Note: Please note, the day's field trips may include up to 2 guided walks, no more than 1 mile (1.5 km) each in length on paved or maintained trails.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at your hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Maligne Canyon & Pyramid Lake. Meet your local expert naturalist who will introduce you to Jasper National Park. Explore together Maligne Canyon and Pyramid Lake. Discover the Maligne Canyon trail, rich in natural history, with impressive geologic features and wildlife. Search for fossils and find out how this deep canyon formed during glacial ages. The forests of these wilderness areas are home to mountain goats, elk, moose, and bears as well as a variety of birds, including Bald Eagles. Scenic trails let you explore the spectacular vantage points, flower meadows, and sapphire blue mountain lakes.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch en route (weather permitting)
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Jasper National Park. Discover the history of Jasper National Park - Canada's largest and most northerly Rocky Mountain park, encompassing over 4,200 square miles. Healthy wildlife populations, including grizzly bears and wolves, live among its grand peaks and emerald-green lakes. The combination of these startling blue-green mountain lakes, soaring peaks and broad, forested valleys makes this one of the world's premiere national parks.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own to explore local fare or join the Group Leader at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Amethyst Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Palisades Stewardship Education Centre/Return to Banff
(Saturday, June 29)

Note: Please note, the day's field trip may include a guided walk, no more than 1 mile (1.5 km) in length on paved or maintained trails.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at your hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Palisades Stewardship Education Centre. Once a homestead of an early pioneer family, the historic ranch is now operated by Parks Canada as one of Canada’s premier outdoor education facilities. Located in the spectacular Athabasca Valley, the Stewardship Palisades Education Centre’s innovative programming is designed to stimulate a new kind of relationship with nature and to embrace the values of protected areas. During a visit to the Centre, learn about the role of the National Parks in fostering conservation ethics from a Parks Canada expert.
 Lunch: Lunch at the centre.
 Afternoon: Return to Banff
 Dinner: Dinner on your own to explore local fare or join the Group Leader at a local restaurant.
 Evening: This evening is free to head off on your own to explore Banff, remain with your Group Leader or relax at your hotel.
Accommodations: Irwin's Mountain Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Banff Springs Hotel/Farewell Celebrations
(Sunday, June 30)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at your hotel.
 Morning: PRESENTATION and FIELD TRIP: Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel & Bow Falls. Discover the history of the town of Banff, located within Canada's First National Park. Banff lies in a mountain-rimmed valley carved by the Bow River. Its development has always been determined by the federal government, tourism and the railway. In 1930, the Rocky Mountain Parks Reserve was renamed Banff National Park, Canada's first nature reserve, to encompass 2,564 square miles of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers. Beneath the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is gushing Bow Falls. The spectacular falls is fed upstream by the Bow Glacier which in turn feeds the Bow River. An easy stroll along the Bow Falls Trail gets you up close to the rapids and roaring water falls.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Banff on your own, remain with your group leader or prepare for tomorrow's departure from the program.
 Dinner: Dinner at El Toro
 Evening: Farewell celebrations
Accommodations: Irwin's Mountain Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Independent Departures
(Monday, July 1)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at your hotel at 7:30 am.
 Morning: Independent departures from Banff. Approximate travel time from Banff to the Calgary International (YYC) Airport is 2.5 hours. When booking your departure/return flight, confirm with your airline the amount of time required for pre-flight check-in procedure. Make sure you have enough time upon arrival at airport to comfortably make your flight.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Moon Handbook Canadian Rockies

Author: Andrew Hempstead

Description: GUIDEBOOK, 2010, PAPERBACK, 347 PAGES Canada resident and avid outdoorsman Andrew Hempstead knows the best way to experience the Canadian Rockies, from rafting on the Bow River and hiking Lake O'Hara to staying in a remote log cabin. Packed with information on dining, transportation, and accommodations, Moon Canadian Rockies has lots of options for a range of travel budgets. With must-see sights, maps, aadvice on planning and itineraries -- and an essential dose of humor.

Canadians, A Portrait of the Country and Its People

Author: Roy MacGregor

Description: CULTURAL PORTRAIT, 2008, PAPERBACK, 320 PAGES A journalist and popular author, MacGregor takes the full measure of Canadian life in this irreverent, entertaining portrait of a people.

Switchbacks, True Stories from the Canadian Rockies

Author: Sid Marty

Description: PAPER, 328 PAGES Marty recalls the colorful tales of his friends, colleagues and his own youth in this collection of tales. (Item no. CND186)

Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains

Author: James Halfpenny | Todd Telander

Description: FIELD GUIDE, 2001, PAPERBACK, 145 PAGES An essential pocket guide to tracks, scats and signs of not just the mammals of the region, but also of the reptiles, amphibians and birds. Each of 70 species gets a double-page spread, with line drawings of the animal, scat and track, range map and description. Winner of the 1999 National Outdoor Book Award in the Nature Guidebook Category, it features shaded pencil drawings by Todd Telander.

Rocky Mountain Nature Guide

Author: Andy Bezener

Description: FIELD GUIDE, 1999, PAPERBACK, 192 PAGES This guide includes information on mammals, fish, birds, trees, shrubs, wildflowers, insects and reptiles from the entire span of the Rockies - Alaska to New Mexico. Featuring over 300 exact full-color illustrations.

Banff & Jasper National Parks Map

Author: Gem Trek Maps

Description: A driver's map of Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, at a birds-eye scale of 1:400,000. This is a good planning map for anyone contemplating a trip to Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes or Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National parks. Two Sides. 39x27 inches

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