Road Scholar : Home
Spectacular Western Canada: Grizzlies, Orcas and Totems

Program Number: 21439RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/10/2015 - 6/23/2015; 6/24/2015 - 7/7/2015; 7/8/2015 - 7/21/2015; 7/12/2015 - 7/25/2015;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: Banff, Alberta
Price starting at: $4,395.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Train Treks; Natural History; On the Road
Meals: 35; 13 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Discover the breathtaking range of the Canadian Rockies in Alberta and the magnificent wildlife and natural beauty of British Columbia. The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are richly adorned with mountain peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, limestone caves and fossils. In British Columbia, the Inside Passage teems with marine life from humpback and killer whales to dolphins, porpoises, sea lions and more, while on shore the ancient coastal rainforest provides habitat for grizzlies and many other mammals. Join expert naturalists for an exploration of the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Coast Mountains and the waterways of the West on this wildlife and wilderness adventure.


• Explore Banff, Yoho and Jasper national parks with experts and learn about their rich ecology and geology.
• Experience British Columbia’s diversity of landscapes aboard Via Rail's Skeena train and on a BC Ferry cruise.
• In the Khutzeymateen, observe North America’s highest grizzly bear concentration in their natural environment.

Activity Particulars

Walk up to two miles daily; gentle elevation gains, stops for interpretation. Embarking/disembarking ferries, trains and vessels. Please be prepared for some late night arrivals and long days due to ferry and train schedules (subject to change).

Date Specific Information

6-10-2015, 6-24-2015, 7-8-2015, 7-12-2015

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

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Vancouver, BC, 1 night; ferry and coach to Port Hardy, 2 nights; ferry to Prince Rupert, 4 nights; train to Prince George, 1 night; train to Jasper, 2 nights; coach to Banff, 3 nights. Coach transfer to Calgary. Departures from Calgary.


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.

Vancouver: Hotel across the street from beautiful English Bay. Prince George, Prince Rupert and Port Hardy: Comfortable hotels close to the ferry and train. Banff and Jasper: Centrally located hotels within the national parks.

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.
Meals and Lodgings
   Best Western Sands by the Sea
  Vancouver, British Columbia 1 night
   Quarterdeck Inn and Marine Resort
  Port Hardy, British Columbia 2 nights
   The Crest Hotel
  Prince Rupert, British Columbia 4 nights
   Ramada Prince George
  Prince George, British Columbia 1 night
   The Chateau Jasper
  Jasper, Alberta 2 nights
   Irwin's Mountain Inn
  Banff, Alberta 3 nights
 Best Western Sands by the Sea
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Best Western Sands by the Sea is conveniently located one half block from the beach at beautiful English Bay and three blocks from Stanley Park's 1,000 acres of trails and gardens. Three bus routes stop at the front door for easy access to other parts of town.
  Contact info: 1755 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC V6G 1W5 Canada
phone: 604-682-1831
  Room amenities: In-room coffee makers, iron and ironing board, hair dryers, mini fridges, morning newspaper, free high speed wireless Internet access, iPod/iPhone/iPad Clock Radios and flat screen TV’s.
  Facility amenities: Hotel amenities include a sauna and exercise room. Same-day dry-cleaning and laundry service is available, and there is a laundromat six blocks from the hotel. Restaurant and 2 bars on site.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Check for availability. Contact the hotel directly for rates & availability.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM

 Quarterdeck Inn and Marine Resort
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Quarterdeck Resort and Marina located in Port Hardy British Columbia Canada is a full service 3 1/2 star Hotel, complete with marina, Pubstyle restaurant, Close to downtown and all tourism or business services in Port Hardy. Guided fishing, whale watching, grizzly tours, eco tours, hiking to pristine beaches are all available nearby.
  Contact info: 6555 Hardy Bay Road
P.O.Box 910
Port Hardy, BC V0N 2P0 Canada
phone: 250-902-0455
  Room amenities: Rooms have hair dryer, individual thermostat control, high speed internet access, iron/ironing board (on request). All soaps, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers and lotions are environmentally friendly and spa quality. Comfortable beds with quality linens. .
  Facility amenities: Located on the ocean with spectacular views of the ocean and marina. Full service restaurant/lounge. Site seeing tours and fishing charters are within steps at the marina dock.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 The Crest Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Prince Rupert's Crest Hotel is situated on a high promontory overlooking the inner harbor, and enjoys one of the most scenic vantage points of Kaien Island. We offer comfortable and convenient accommodations only minutes from downtown Prince Rupert and the city’s major tourist attractions.
  Contact info: 222 1st Avenue West
Prince Rupert, BC V8J 1A8 Canada
phone: 250-624-6771
  Room amenities: All rooms feature high-speed wireless internet access, coffee makers, irons, ironing boards and hair dryers.
  Facility amenities: From free open-air or covered parking, to complimentary wireless internet guests enjoy the many perks included in their stay at the Crest Hotel. A Fitness Centre, Gift Shop and choice of restaurant enhance the enjoyment and pleasure we provide.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Ramada Prince George
Type: Hotel
  Description: Welcome to the Ramada hotel located in the heart of Prince George British Columbia. A historic city that has become a hub and gateway for transportation, commerce, and tourism for the Province of BC and now, North America. As our valued guest, our team is dedicated to ensuring your visit is one to remember.
  Contact info: 444 George Street
Prince George, BC V2L 1R6 Canada
phone: 250-563-0055
  Room amenities: Enjoy luxurious comfort in our newly renovated Premiere Guest Rooms. You are sure to have a restful sleep on our Simmons Beauty Rest, Cape Breton series mattresses dressed in 300 thread count linens. Experience convenience and make use of our audio visual panel to connect any of your personal media to our 42 LED television. When your electronics are not in use store them in your personal in room safe which can accommodate up to a 17 laptop with an in safe outlet for charging capabilities. After a hard day of work or play enjoy a relaxing hot shower with your choice of a wand or rain shower head.
  Facility amenities: Starbucks Nothing beats a perfect cup of coffee in the morning, and you don't even have to get out of your pajamas to get it! Our Starbucks is located in our Grand Lobby, open 7am – 7pm Monday – Saturday and 7am-7pm on Sunday. Sheffield Express Everyone has forgotten something at some point during their travels, and we have the solution! Sheffield Express has many items to suit your needs, from snacks to toiletries. Fitness Centre Our Fitness Centre is located on the third floor, and offers a clean, comfortable, modern space with state-of-the-art Star Trac Equipment series. A great way to begin or end your day. Swimming Pool Located next to our Fitness Centre, you will enjoy our indoor pool, and jetted whirlpool. Whether you wish to swim laps or soothe your muscles, we are open from 6:00am – 11:00pm daily. Business Centre Our 24 hour Business Center is located in the lobby, allowing our guests the privacy to conduct their business with the assistance of our computer station, fax and photocopy machine.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 The Chateau Jasper
Type: Hotel
  Description: Chateau Jasper, Luxury in the Mountains. The Chateau Jasper is an exceptional hotel with an excellent variety of accommodations and facilities. This conveniently located hotel offers 119 fully air-conditioned luxury guest rooms and suites, pleasantly furnished with mountain decor in mind.
  Contact info: 96 Geikie Street
P.O. Box 1200
Jasper, AB T0E 1E0 Canada
phone: 780-852-5644
  Room amenities: All Chateau Jasper guest rooms have private baths, mini fridges, in room safes, air conditioning and feature large flatscreen televisions, in room safes, complimentary Wi Fi, hair driers, irons and boards, complimentary coffee and tea and electric kettles.
  Facility amenities: This intimate hotel includes an indoor swimming pool, whirlpool, fitness center, a variety of meeting rooms, complimentary internet kiosks in hotel lobby, a lounge, as well as an award-winning, fine dining room. Additional features: Proud recipient of Travel Alberta Good Housekeeping Award Dining Room and Lounge Heated Indoor Pool and Whirlpool Fitness Centre Seasonal Ski Shuttle Heated Underground Parking Air Conditioning Meeting and Conference Rooms
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Irwin's Mountain Inn
Type: Inn
  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 Irwin's 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; rooms are fully air conditioned, hair dryers, in-room coffee maker, irons and ironing boards available on request from front desk.
  Facility amenities: Fitness Centre, coin laundry, small gift shop, free wireless Internet, Internet Kiosk, 10 person jetted tub, 4 person Sauna, games room, massage therapy. Located within walking distance of downtown Banff. On-site dining at the El Toro restaurant, located on the street level of the inn, it has a reputation as one of the best restaurants in Banff, El Toro specializes in steak, seafood and Greek dishes.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Call for availability & rates Contact hotel directly if you wish to stay on in Banff.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Arrivals to Vancouver, BC. Check in is 4:00 p.m. Welcome dinner at the hotel. You will be staying at Best Western Sands by the Sea that night.
  End of Program:
Morning group transfer to Calgary, AB. Departures from Calgary, AB. You will be staying at Irwin's Mountain Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
NOTE: This program starts and ends in different locations - starting in Vancouver, BC and ending in Calgary, AB. If you are driving to the program, long term parking is available at the airport in Vancouver.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Vancouver, British Columbia
  Nearest city or town:  Vancouver
  Nearest highway: Highway 1 - Trans Canada
  Nearest airport:  Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
  From End of Program
  Location:  Banff, Alberta
  Nearest city or town:  Calgary, Alberta
  Nearest airport:  Calgary International Airport
Travel Details



From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


The cost is approximately CAD$25 - $30 (per taxi)
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approximately 20 to 30 minutes from the airport to the hotel 


At present time airport shuttle service is no longer offered to the hotel. Taxi service is readily available from the airport to the hotel.




From Airport




Public Transportation
Sky Train/Canada Line
phone: 604-953-3333


Per Person/One Way:


$7 - $10 CDN
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


35 - 45 minutes 


From the airport, take the Sky Train to Yaletown/Roundhouse Station, signs will direct you to the Canada Line. From Yaletown/Roundhouse, take C23 Davie Street bus (same ticket) west to Davie Street & Bidwell, walk ½ block south to the hotel.




From Train Station




Checker Cabs
phone: 604-683-4567


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $10 (per taxi)
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


10 minutes 


Taxis available at train station or use call box. Amtrak, Via Rail & Greyhound all provide service to Vancouver. Taxis available from the bus or train depot.




From Airport




Public Transportation
Quick Shuttle
phone: 800-665-2122
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$45 USD
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approximate travel time is 5 hours 


Visit for information on schedules and fares and to make reservations. Shuttle pick up at SeaTac and drop off at your hotel (Best Western Sands by the Sea). Passengers can purchase tickets over the phone from our Reservation Department at:800-665-2122 or 604-940-4428, on-line, from their local travel agent or directly from a driver. Shuttle service is also available from downtown Seattle to Vancouver (approximately $25).




To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle


Per Person/One Way:


Included in program cost
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approximately 2.5 hours (weather permitting) 


On the final day of the program the group will transfer from Banff to Calgary (airport). This transfer is included in the program cost.

Elevation Note: Jasper has an altitude of 1,062m or 3,484 ft

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: Arrival and Check-in/Welcome Dinner/Orientation
(Wednesday, June 10)
 Arrive To: Arrivals and check-in to the hotel in Vancouver after 4:00 p.m.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Orientation, introductions and a review of the itinerary following dinner. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Accommodations: Best Western Sands by the Sea
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Ferry to Nanaimo/Cathedral Grove/Coombs Market/Port Hardy
(Thursday, June 11)
 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: We head for the Ferry Terminal and board the BC Ferry from the mainland to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. Ferry crossing is approximately 2.5 hours.
 Lunch: Lunch at Coombs Country Market (the one with the goats on the roof).
 Afternoon: On our way to Port Hardy, we stop to visit the spectacular old growth forest at Cathedral Grove Provincial Park. The beauty and majesty of this forest of giant Douglas fir trees laden with mosses and lichen and underlain with huge ferns compares to the feeling of reverence generated in the large cathedrals of Europe. We continue on to Port Hardy (approximately 4.5 hours).
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel in Port Hardy.
Accommodations: Quarterdeck Inn and Marine Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Telegraph Cove - Orca Whale Watching Expedition
(Friday, June 12)
 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: This morning we visit the rugged coast of Vancouver Island and historic Telegraph Cove, BC’s last boardwalk community and considered by some to be the best location in the world to observe Orca (Killer) Whales. The Johnstone Strait and Broughton Archipelago are home to a bounty of marine wildlife including humpback whales, Steller sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, bald eagles and so much more. We will head out into the protected waters an ideal location to view and listen to orcas and other marine mammals as they feed, socialize and raise their young. We will cruise through the passages and around the islands that are teeming with wildlife in one of the most beautiful locations on British Columbia’s coast.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Our whale watching trip continues. The boat is equipped with underwater microphones (hydrophones) so we can listen in on the squeaks, whistles and echolocation that allow orcas and dolphins the ability to communicate and locate their food.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Killer Whale Café.
Accommodations: Quarterdeck Inn and Marine Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: BC Ferry to Prince Rupert/Canada's Inside Passage
(Saturday, June 13)

Note: This is a full day of travel with an early morning departure from Port Hardy (check-in at ferry terminal is 5:30 a.m.). The ferry trip is 16 hours - participants will have a cabin onboard to relax or rest during the journey. Arrival in Prince Rupert is approximately 11:30 p.m.

 Breakfast: On board the ferry.
 Morning: Depart from Port Hardy aboard BC Ferries. Cruise northward through the awe-inspiring Inside Passage to Prince Rupert. Cabins will be made available on-board the ferry which will allow participants the opportunity to rest. This 16 hour journey takes you past spectacular coastal rainforests, and majestic coastal mountains. Informal discussion and interpretation of coastal ecological issues while passing noted villages, first contact sites, sea mammals, etc.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own onboard the ferry
 Afternoon: We continue to cruise through Canada's Inside Passage. Cut from the coastal mountains by glaciers millions of years ago, the fjords of Canada’s Inside Passage provide vistas of spectacular coastal rainforests, beaches, waterfalls and mountains.
 Dinner: Onboard the ferry
 Evening: Late arrival in Prince Rupert, BC. This region of the North Coast is one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the world with its fjords, inlets, rain forests, lagoons, sandy beaches, haunting abandoned villages. Prince Rupert is located on Kaien Island at the mouth of a fjord.
Accommodations: The Crest Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Pacific Northwest Cannery Historic Site/Northwest Coast History And Culture
(Sunday, June 14)
 Breakfast: Late breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: One of the most significant sites of its kind in Western Canada, the Pacific Northwest Cannery Historic Site provides insight into life at remote salmon canneries and how the industry shaped the economy and culture of the province. Additional notes for copy: We’ll explore North Pacific Cannery’s historic boardwalks, industrial buildings, residences and wilderness surroundings on a private tour connecting participants with the salmon canning industry, highlighting the people, living quarters, workspaces, and functions of a remote cannery. Experience live demonstrations of cannery machinery, a glimpse into the unique living experiences of workers of First Nations, Japanese, Chinese, and European descent, and a journey from the earliest days of salmon canning to the modern methods that take place today.
 Lunch: At the Pacific Northwest Cannery Historic Site.
 Afternoon: Discover the natural and cultural heritage of the Northwest Coast with a museum curator. Learn about the important role of feasting and performance art in Northwest Coast culture during a real life feast experience. View ceremonial regalia and extraordinary feast art in the museum’s galleries and discover their significance with museum experts. After a short walk, enter the feast house as a guest, where song, mask dancing and storytelling inform and delight.
 Dinner: On your own.
 Evening: Free time to explore Prince Rupert. One option is The Prince Rupert Performing Arts Centre (the Lester Centre) is a state of the art 700 seat facility operated by a non-profit society for the cultural benefit of the people of the Northwest. It hosts more than 120 performances each year as well displaying art from local artists.
Accommodations: The Crest Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary - Full Day Grizzly Bear Viewing
(Monday, June 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: A presentation will set the stage for an incredible journey to the Khutzeymateen Valley, home to one of the highest concentrations of grizzly bears in North America. As we cruise north through Chatam Sound, the foliage becomes denser, and hardy Western hemlocks carpet the mountains that guard the entrance to the estuary. Along the way, watch for porpoises, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, and blue herons as you learn first-hand about this diverse marine environment. Pass through cliffs that rise up from the waters of the 14-mile long Khutzeymateen Inlet towards peaks of over 6,500 feet high. Beyond lies a valley of ancient spruce forests and the protected land of the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. Here we will have an opportunity to observe these legendary giants in their pristine natural environment. It is truly a photographer’s paradise and will be the highlight of your program.
 Lunch: Lunch on site.
 Afternoon: Grizzly bear viewing continues in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. Khutzeymateen Provincial Park [a.k.a. Khutzeymateen/K’tsim-a-deen Grizzly Sanctuary] was established as the first area in Canada to be protected specifically for grizzly bears and their habitat. It also represents the first undisturbed estuary of its size to be protected along the north coast of BC. The topography of this land and marine sanctuary is diverse, with rugged peaks towering to 2100 metres above a valley of wetlands, old growth temperate rainforests and a large estuary. An abundance of wildlife shares the area.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: The Crest Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Nasa Valley/Nisga'a Region/First Nations Culture
(Tuesday, June 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore First Nations history and culture in the Nasa Valley and Lava Fields. Here we will visit the First Nations village of Laxgalts’ap. Laxgalts'ap is located in the Nass River estuary, the spawning grounds of five species of wild Pacific salmon and oolichan, a finger-sized member of the smelt family. Each year, tons of oolichan are harvested in Fishery Bay and rendered into precious oil - a historic staple of Nisga'a trade and a valuable commodity that supplied the Northwest Coast's famous "Grease Trail." For countless generations, they have relied on the harvest of fish and seafood and most of our homes have a traditional smoke house and/or drying racks to preserve and the bounty of the river and sea.
 Lunch: Lunch.
 Afternoon: Visit the Nisga'a Museum, home to hundreds of recently repatriated cultural artifacts that help to tell the history and traditions of the Nisga'a, People of the Nass River.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: The Crest Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Skeena Train - Prince Rupert to Prince George
(Wednesday, June 17)

Note: Today we embark on the first section of our train trek on Via Rail's The Skeena train. Board the train at approximately 8:00 a.m. Travel in “totem class”, from the shores of the Pacific in Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Prince George, British Columbia on this first leg of our journey by train. Approximate arrival in Prince George is 9:00 p.m. Please note that train schedules are subject to change and delays are possible due to rail traffic or other conditions.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Today we embark on a two-day journey aboard Via Rail’s Skeena Train from Prince Rupert, BC to Jasper, AB, with an overnight stop in Prince George, BC. Board the train at approximately 8:00 a.m; travel in “totem class”, from the shores of the Pacific in Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Prince George, British Columbia on this first leg of our journey by train. Experience the magnificent scenery along the route including British Columbia's lush Skeena River Valley and the giant cedars and hemlocks that line the western slope of the Pacific Coastal mountain range.
 Lunch: Lunch will be served onboard the train
 Afternoon: Travel aboard the Skeena train continues as we make our way to Prince George. High in the coastal mountains of northwestern British Columbia, at the edge of the Spasizi Plateau, the Skeena River begins its 570 kilometer run to the Pacific. Draining a total area of 54,400 square kilometers, the Skeena is the second largest river in the province, and one of the longest un-dammed rivers in the world. Informal discussions onboard the train will highlight the biodiversity of the landscape and the issues of conservation and preservation. Spacious assigned seats in the glass enclosed Panorama Car provides an unbeatable opportunity to observe the landscapes under study.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the train.
 Evening: Arrive in Prince George late evening. Known as British Columbia's northern capital, Prince George is situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers. The origins of Prince George can be traced to the fur trading post of Fort George, established in 1807 by Simon Fraser.
Accommodations: Ramada Prince George
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Skeena Train - Prince George to Jasper
(Thursday, June 18)

Note: We board the Skeena for our final leg of our train trek from Prince George, BC to Jasper, AB. Train departs approximately 11:00 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Jasper, AB around 6:30 p.m. Please note that train schedules are subject to change and delays are possible due to rail traffic or other conditions.

 Breakfast: Breakfast.
 Morning: Depart Prince George en route to Jasper, Alberta aboard the Skeena train. Experience the magnificent scenery including Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. The train covers the entirety of its 725-mile journey during daylight hours.
 Lunch: Served onboard the train.
 Afternoon: Our rail journey continues as we make our way towards Jasper, Alberta. Jasper National Park is 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: Scheduled to arrive in Jasper at 6:30 p.m. for a late dinner.
Accommodations: The Chateau Jasper
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Jasper National Park: Maligne Canyon/Pyramid Lake/Pallisades Stewardship Centre
(Friday, June 19)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: 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 (weather permitting).
 Afternoon: Once a homestead of an early pioneer family, Palisades Stewardship Education Centre is an historic ranch 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.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: The Chateau Jasper
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Icefields Parkway/Athabasca Glacier - Ice Explorer/Banff National Park
(Saturday, June 20)

Note: Travel in a specially designed Ice Explorer to the middle of the Athabasca Glacier, on a 3 mile/5 km round trip journey. At the mid-point, you will have the option of stepping out onto ice formed from snow falling as long as 200 years ago.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We travel from mountains to glaciers as we depart for Banff along the Icefields Parkway; linking Jasper to Lake Louise, the Parkway 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. Interpretive commentary along the way.

Travel in a specially designed Ice Explorer to the middle of the Athabasca Glacier, on a 3 mile/5 km round trip journey. Your driver/guide will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features as you travel in safety and comfort. At the mid-point, you will have the option of stepping out onto ice formed from snow falling as long as 200 years ago. With advance notice we can offer an option to do Glacier Icewalk approximately 2 - 2.5 hours. Walking up to 1.5 miles/2.5 kms.

 Lunch: Box lunch
 Afternoon: We continue our journey to Banff 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.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Free time to enjoy Banff.
Accommodations: Irwin's Mountain Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Lake Louise/Emerald Lake/Yoho National Park
(Sunday, June 21)
 Breakfast: At the inn.
 Morning: Discover the geological highlights of the Rockies in Lake Louise and Yoho National Park with Ben Gadd, renowned naturalist and author of the ground-breaking Handbook of the Canadian Rockies including a trail walk at Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake is another jewel of the Canadian Rockies.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Explore Yoho National Park; thanks to its position on the west side of the Great Divide, a 360 degree tour of Emerald yields up four very different environments. Learn about a huge avalanche path, the normal forest, a dry and dramatic alluvial fan and the towering trees of the coastal rainforest on a guided walk.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own in Banff.
Accommodations: Irwin's Mountain Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13: Cave and Basin National Historic Site/Johnston Canyon
(Monday, June 22)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Creating the Canadian Cordillera – Fifty years ago we thought that the Rockies popped up out of a “geosyncline”, and we had no reasonable explanation for the weird rock making up the mountains to the west. Now we know! Join one of Canada's better-known naturalists and award-winning author, Ben Gadd, as he shares the fascinating story of the Canadian Rockies.
 Morning: Explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site with naturalist Ben Gadd. The warm waters issuing from Sulphur Mountain were known to aboriginal peoples. These hot springs later became the centrepiece of Canada's first national park (and the world's third.) We will also stroll down to the warm marshes below the springs, easily accessible along a boardwalk, to see birds and tropical fish. Bring your binoculars!
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Explore Johnston Canyon on a trail walk while learning about the area flora/fauna; examine the measures taken to preserve the ecological integrity of the area.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner in Banff, AB.
Accommodations: Irwin's Mountain Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Coach Transfer to Calgary/Program Concludes/Departure
(Tuesday, June 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel in Banff.
 Morning: Coach transfer departs Banff at 8:00 a.m. Approximate arrival at Calgary airport is 10:30 a.m. Departures from Calgary as per individual travel plans. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Banff, Alberta Banff Hot Springs
All the amenities of a modern facility are featured in this splendid, historic spa and bath house – against a backdrop of spectacular alpine scenery. Luxuriate in the comfort of soothing hot water where travelers have come to “take the waters” for more than a century. For additional information, visit
  Banff Park Museum
The Banff Park Museum is a national historic site because the museum's original exhibit collection reflect and commemorate an early approach to the interpretation of natural history in Canada. Also, the architectural style and detailing of the 1903 log building are characteristic examples of early federal buildings in the Park. The museum displays an extensive collection of natural history specimens (more than 5,000) which are characteristic of early museum practices. The emphasis is on changes in attitudes toward natural resource management. Although the building, the collection, and the grounds have been modified over time in response to the demands of the day, the developments and treatments are "in keeping" with the historical significance of the building and collections themselves. For additional information, visit
  Lake Minnewanka Cruise
Lake Minnewanka (home of the 'Banff Crasher Squirrel') lies in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park, just a short 15 minute drive from the townsite of Banff. Banff Lake Cruise provides a unique sightseeing tour experience on one of two 43 passenger Lake Cruisers or the 65 passenger Alberta Explorer operating several times daily from mid-May to mid-October. This magnificent interpretive lake cruise of Minnewanka and the scenic Canadian Rockies is 1 hour and provides unique photo opportunities unavailable elsewhere. Our experienced crew will guide you through this rugged paradise richly steeped in history, native folklore and geology. The narration is intriguing, entertaining and informative. You will learn about the wildlife and vegetation that inhabit these mountains, the early explorers who named them and the tremendous forces that created them. The Lake Minnewanka valley offers some of the most interesting and spectacular scenery found anywhere in the Canadian Rockies For additional information, visit
  The Banff Centre
A globally respected arts, cultural, and educational institution and conference facility, The Banff Centre is a leader in the development and promotion of creative work in the arts, sciences, business, and the environment. It is the largest arts and creativity incubator on the planet. Over 8,000* artists, leaders, and researchers from across Canada and around the world participate in programs at The Banff Centre every year. Through its multidisciplinary programming, The Banff Centre provides them with the support they need to create, to develop solutions, and to make the impossible possible. For additional information, visit
  Vancouver, British Columbia Capilano Suspension Bridge
Voices from Vancouver’s past mingle with the sounds of nature, beautiful gardens skirt colourful totem poles, British Columbia First Nations artisans chisel legend into cedar and Capilano Suspension Bridge takes you to the serenity of a West Coast rainforest. Cross the suspension bridge, try out Canada’s award-winning tourist attraction, Treetops Adventure which offers a squirrel’s eye view of a thriving coastal rainforest in the mid-story of 1300-year-old old growth Douglas-firs; or take the Cliffwalk with a labyrinth-like series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms. For additional information, visit
  Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Step back in time to 15th Century China at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The first of its kind outside of China, the Garden offers a glimpse into life as a Chinese scholar during the Ming dynasty. Scholars lived and worked in their gardens, sharing these enchanting spaces with friends and family of all ages. Like any home, a scholar's garden was filled with energy, but also offered quiet moments for contemplation. As a bridge between cultures, the Garden offers lively demonstrations, Chinese festival celebrations and diverse art exhibitions. We also feature musical concerts such as the summer Enchanted Evenings Concert series. For additional information, visit
  Granville Island
Early in the morning, the first Aquabus of the day putters across False Creek, heading towards Granville Island. Home to 300 businesses, studios and facilities, the destination still retains an old-fashioned, timeless feeling. Craftsmen and artists take up residence here, and it's clear that the tradition of apprenticeship and mastery is alive and well. You can see it in the detail of a ceramic bowl or the gentle curve of a freshly blown glass vase, the intricacy of a piece of jewellery or the flick of a painter's brush. Granville Island's charming public market overflows with fresh produce, breads, seafood and a bounty of other goods is reason enough to visit Granville Island. Be sure to also stroll the narrow lanes of the island to check out its unique shops and photo-worthy views of downtown across False Creek. Street music is one of the most distinctive characteristics of Granville Island. Singer/songwriters strum away in open courtyards, drum circles form out of nowhere, and a clear strain of a melody from violin or saxophone melody often seems to make its way to the ears of an unsuspecting visitor For additional information, visit
  Harbour Cruise
Vancouver's best sightseeing, dining and special event cruises. Join Vancouver's most popular Sunset Dinner Cruise, an amazing opportunity to enjoy the fabulous sunset view. Enjoy Vancouver's only authentic paddlewheeler and narrated tour of the inner harbour or relax with Indian Arm Luncheon Cruise through a secluded mountain fjord. A unique experience, since the area is only accessible by boat, in 4 hours you will pass Deep Cove to Indian Arm and finally reach Silver Falls. For additional information, visit
  Vancouver Aquarium
Canada’s largest aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium is dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life through display, interpretation, education, research, and direct action. You can experience all of this and more when you visit us. Research is ongoing at Aquarium labs and with display animals, by graduate students and staff. For additional information, visit
  Vancouver Museum
The Vancouver Museum houses permanent displays, exhibitions and educational programs about the natural, cultural and human history of the Vancouver region. Canada's largest civic museum moves into its second century, it continues to explore the human and natural history of the Vancouver region, the Pacific Northwest Coast and Pacific Rim with exciting, ever-changing new exhibitions. The Vancouver Museum continues to celebrate the rich legacy and heritage of our diverse multicultural society through varied programs. For additional information, visit
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

Wild Guide: Bears

Author: Charles Fergus

Description: This full-color guide to the world of bears includes black bears, polar bears, and grizzlies; and information on dealing with bears in the wild. Feared and reviled by many, bears are woefully misunderstood creatures. This natural history guide clears up many of the misconceptions about the animals and offers a glimpse into their extraordinary lives. Covering everything from hibernation to their storied fishing abilities, the book also examines the difficulties that bears and humans often have coexisting and gives invaluable guidance on how to act should you encounter a wild bear. Illustrated throughout in full color.

Grizzly Heart

Author: Charlie Russell and Maureen Enns

Description: An absorbing first-hand account of living with bears, from the acclaimed author of The Spirit Bear. To many people, grizzlies are symbols of power and ferocity -- creatures to be feared and, too often, killed. But Charlie Russell, who has had a forty-year relationship with bears, holds the controversial belief that it is possible to live with and truly understand bears in the wild. And for five years now, Russell and his partner, artist and photographer Maureen Enns, have spent summers on the Kamchatka peninsula, located on the northeast coast of Russia, and home of the densest population of brown bears in the world. Grizzly Heart tells the remarkable story of how Russell and Enns have defied the preconceptions of wildlife officials and the general public by living unthreatened -- and respected -- among the grizzlies of Kamchatka. In an honest and immediate style, Russell tells of the trials and successes of their years in the field, from convincing Russian officials to allow them to study, to adopting three bear cubs left orphaned when their mother was killed by a hunter (and teaching these cubs how to survive in the wild), to raising environmental awareness through art. Through a combination of careful study and personal dedication, Russell and Enns are persuading people to reconsider the age-old image of the grizzly bear as a ferocious man-eater and perpetual threat. Through their actions, they demonstrate that it is possible to forge a mutually respectful relationship with these majestic giants, and provide compelling reasons for altering our culture. "We have been able to live beautifully with these animals, with no serious threat, because of what we've learned. Hopefully, sharing what we learn will help people -- and be a big help to our bears, too."

Operation Orca: Springer, Luna and the Struggle to Save West Coast Killer Whales

Author: Daniel Francis, Gill Hewlett

Description: In 1964 when the Vancouver Aquarium obtained its first killer whale, Moby Doll, the prevalent attitudes towards killer whales was that they were fierce and vicious man-eaters. Over the years, attitudes have begun to change, and orcas are now revered as loveable, intelligent creatures and iconic symbols of the marine environment. In January 2002, a young killer whale was discovered alone in the waters of Puget Sound near Seattle. Determining that the whale would not survive alone so far from home, a team of scientists captured "Springer" and transported her by boat north to her home range where she rejoined her family. At the same time Springer was making her historic journey, another lone whale turned up in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The people of Nootka Sound adopted "Luna" as their own, but he was a large, boisterous youngster who liked to cuddle boats and the government feared he would get into trouble. Another rescue was planned to return Luna to his family but this time there was no happy ending. In Operation Orca, winner of the 2008 Foreword Magazine Nature Book of the Year award, author Daniel Francis and long-time Vancouver Aquarium staff member Gil Hewlett give breadth to the complications, contradictions, and political posturing that twice engulfed the debate of whether to interfere or let nature take its course. Through the amazing story of these two "orphan" whales, Operation Orca tells the larger story of orcas in the Pacific Northwest, the people who have studied them and the transformation of the whale's image from killer to icon.

Coastal Bears

Author: Keith Scott

Description: A complete guide to the bears of the British Columbia Coast. Stories and an abundance of pictures of Black, Grizzly, and even Spirit Bears.

Handbook of the Canadian Rockies

Author: Ben Gadd

Description: Geology, plants, animals, history and recreation from Waterton/Glacier to the Yukon.

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