loading spinner
Alberta

Best of Banff: Our Mountain Heritage

Program No. 13178RJ
Delve deep into Canada’s history as you visit Chateau Lake Louise, Banff National Park and take expert walks through the Canadian Rockies to learn about artists and outdoorsmen.
Length
6 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,699

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

Enroll with Confidence

We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jun 18 - Jun 23, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Jul 9 - Jul 14, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Jul 23 - Jul 28, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Jul 30 - Aug 4, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Aug 13 - Aug 18, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Aug 20 - Aug 25, 2023
Starting at
2,699
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
2,699
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jun 18 - Jun 23, 2023
Starting at
3,479
Jul 9 - Jul 14, 2023
Starting at
3,479
Jul 23 - Jul 28, 2023
Starting at
3,479
Jul 30 - Aug 4, 2023
Starting at
3,479
Aug 13 - Aug 18, 2023
Starting at
3,479
Aug 20 - Aug 25, 2023
Starting at
3,479
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
3,479

At a Glance

Established in 1885, Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park. Join us in Banff and Lake Louise, where history echoes through its pine forests and mountain peaks. Hear about the colonists who arrived in the 19th century and learn how the Canadian Pacific railway was instrumental in transforming the pristine landscapes of Banff into a Victorian resort. Explore rocky peaks and vast forests, and experience expert-led walks to Bow Falls, Moraine Lake and Lake Louise to see how this natural paradise inspired voyagers, artists and outdoorsmen alike. Discover the incredible geological history and rich ecology at the Cave and Basin Historic Site, and leave mesmerized by the ubiquitous beauty of the land.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles, some stairs, standing. Elevations up to 5,700 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Celebrate the environmental efforts that led to the establishment of Canada’s first national park and the unique geothermal hot springs.
  • Witness Victorian splendor at the Chateau Lake Louise, and the art of the Whyte Museum.
  • Explore the geological history of the Canadian Rockies on an indepth field trip with a well-known expert.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Hugh Southee
A Geotechnical Engineer with experience in coal mining, Hugh has been leading people around the Burgess Shale area for five summers. With his love of education, he is dedicated to helping others learn about the wonders Mother Nature has created in the West. Living in the Rockies for eight years, nothing makes him happier than getting outside. Hugh has traveled the world for over a decade seeking rock and ice climbing adventures, and he also enjoys skiing and canoeing.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Hugh Southee
Hugh Southee View biography
A Geotechnical Engineer with experience in coal mining, Hugh has been leading people around the Burgess Shale area for five summers. With his love of education, he is dedicated to helping others learn about the wonders Mother Nature has created in the West. Living in the Rockies for eight years, nothing makes him happier than getting outside. Hugh has traveled the world for over a decade seeking rock and ice climbing adventures, and he also enjoys skiing and canoeing.
Profile Image of Kristi Beetch
Kristi Beetch View biography
Kristi Beetch was raised in a Scandinavian-German family in Minnesota. Early in her adulthood, she followed her passion for skiing in Vail, Colorado where she met her Canadian husband. Ultimately, they settled down in the Canadian Rockies. Kristi has been leading for over 20 years through Banff, Jasper and multiple other National Parks in the area. She is a course instructor for the Interpretive Guides Association. Kristi often shares her knowledge on the Canadian Rockies on television, including appearances on National Geographic Channel and CNN.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Field Guide to Banff National Park
by James Kavanagh
This fold-up, laminated card features 133 color drawings and short descriptions of commonly encountered wildlife and a map.
Spectacular Canada
by Gerald Bryan Hall
Featuring 177 color photographs showcasing the diversity and grandeur of our neighbor to the north.
Lonely Planet Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks
by Lonely Planet Publications
This informative, compact guidebook in the excellent Lonely Planet series includes details on the history, geology and wildlife of the region.
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
by Jon Dunn
This guide is the veteran's choice for birding anywhere in the United States. Practical to use in the field, it has maps, illustrations and descriptions of the birds on facing pages.
Selected Stories
by Alice Munro
This collection of 28 short stories represents some of Munro's finest work. A powerful range of emotional, evocative tales set throughout the cities and rural towns of her native country.
Northern Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, Including Glacier, Waterton Lakes, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke, and Yoho
by Wayne Phillips
Compiled by a former forest service ecologist and botany teacher at Yellowstone Institute, this handy guide features 300 species, expertly photographed, explained and organized by color and family for quick identification.
After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America
by E.C. Pielou
Eighteen thousand years ago, an immense sheet of ice covered all of present day Canada and northernmost U.S. This story tells of how a harsh terrain was transformed into the environment we know today.
Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains
by James Halfpenny, Todd Telander (Illustrator)
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.
Switchbacks, True Stories from the Canadian Rockies
by Sid Marty
A native Albertan and park warden in the Canadian Rockies, Marty relates colorful anecdotes from friends, colleagues and his own youth in this collection of tales, which includes A Horse Named Candy.
Handbook of the Canadian Rockies
by Ben Gadd
Geology, plants, animals, history and recreation from Waterton/Glacier to the Yukon.
Rocky Mountain Natural History, Grand Teton to Jasper, A Trailside Reference
by Daniel Mathews
A comprehensive field guide and handbook covering the plants, animals, insects, geology and history of the region. With 480 color photographs and 11 line drawings.
Mountain Home, Tales of Seeking a Family Life in Harmony with Nature
by Adolf Hungry Wolf
PAPER, 168 PAGES, $14.95 Getting back to the land isn’t easy, as Mr. Hungry Wolf will testify, after 25 years of raising his family in the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. He shares tales of natural foods, wild animals, home schooling his four children, and living without running water, phone, TV or electricity. (Item no. CND31)
Raven's End
by Ben Gadd
A young raven, with no memory of his past, arrives to the beautiful and dangerous landscape of Yamnuska, Banff. A book that looks at the complex world of ravens.
The Amazing Death of Calf Shirt and Other Blackfoot Stories, Three Hundred Years of Blackfoot History
by Hugh A. Dempsey
A wonderful collection of stories, illuminating the history of the Blackfoot people of the prairies of southern Alberta and northern Montana.
This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada
by Colleen Skidmore
In 1912, Mary Vaux, a botanist, glaciologist, painter, and photographer, wrote about her mountain adventures: “A day on the trail, or a scramble over the glacier, or even with a quiet day in camp to get things in order for the morrow's conquests? Some how when once this wild spirit enters the blood…I can hardly wait to be off again." Vaux's compulsion was shared by many women whose intellects, imaginations, and spirits rose to the challenge of the mountains between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. This Wild Spirit explores a sampling of women's creative responses—in fiction and travel writing, photographs and paintings, embroidery and beadwork, letters and diaries, poetry and posters—to their experiences in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.
The Great Rocky Mountain Nature Factbook
by Susan Ewing
Ewing's family-friendly guide, with black-and-white drawings throughout, answers the curiosity of engaged visitors about the plants, animals and natural features of the Rockies.
Rocky Mountain Nature Guide
by Andy Bezener
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.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
6 days
5 nights
11 meals
5 B 3 L 3 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Banff, Alberta
D
The Rundlestone Lodge

Activity note: Road Scholar shuttle from Calgary International Airport at 3:00 p.m; Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Our Group will transfer from the airport to the hotel. We’ll arrive around 5:00 p.m. En route, our Group Leader will conduct Program Registration. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. After you check-in to the hotel and get settled, take some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At 6:00 p.m. in the hotel, we'll enjoy a welcome dinner

Evening: We’ll begin our evening with an orientation session where we’ll get to know each other as well as review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes. We’ll go over important information as well as have time for questions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. The rest of the evening is at leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, relax, and get a good night’s sleep for the full day ahead. You might like to explore the town on your own. The hotel is steps away from a ROAM stop (Banff’s public bus system).

DAY
2
Cave & Basin Historic Site, Gondola Ride
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Rundlestone Lodge

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the course of the day; some stairs at historic site (can be avoided). Elevation of 2451 meters (8041 feet). Note: cameras are permitted on gondola ride.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: We will board our motorcoach and ride to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. In a private room we will attend a presentation by a local geologist about the geology of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We’ll also learn about the amazing thermal hot springs that resulted in the creation of Canada’s National Parks system. As we explore the site’s thermal waters and the surrounding wetlands, our local geologist will teach us about the wildlife that resides here. We’ll stroll down to the warm marshes below the springs, easily accessible along a boardwalk, and observe introduced tropical fish and warm-water plants. Bring binoculars if you have them!

Lunch: We'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant

Afternoon: We’ll head up Sulphur Mountain in a four-passenger, glass-enclosed gondola (weather permitting). As we ride, we will have a 360-degree view of the breathtaking Rockies. If you brought your camera, feel free to take a picture of the amazing view from the top!

Dinner: We'll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant in Banff

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Yoho National Park
Banff, Alberta
B,L
The Rundlestone Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 120 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the course of the day; flat, groomed trails.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: We’ll ride via motorcoach to Lake Louise. En route, a local expert will point out highlights and teach us about the history of the lake and the surrounding area. On arrival, we’ll have independent time to explore the lake shore and the Château. Those who wish to may join our local expert on a walk. Those who would prefer not to walk may continue exploring independently. We’ll ride via motorcoach to Moraine Lake. En route, our local expert will provide an overview of the area’s history. We’ll walk with our local expert to the base of the Rockpile trail. Those who wish to may walk up the Rockpile with our local expert. Those who do not wish to climb the rock stairs will have some time to explore the lake shore on their own. After the elective walk, we’ll board the bus and ride to the Field Visitor Centre in Yoho National Park. We’ll stop to stretch our legs and have independent time to observe the fossil exhibits.

Lunch: At a scenic spot near the Visitor’s Centre, we’ll enjoy a boxed lunch from a local restaurant

Afternoon: We’ll ride via motorcoach to Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park with our local expert. Due to its position on the west side of the Great Divide in Yoho National Park, we’ll have a fantastic view of not only Emerald Lake, but also the diverse habitats of the surrounding area, including a huge avalanche path, pine forest, a dry and dramatic alluvial fan and the towering trees of the rainforest. We’ll take in the beauty of the landscape as we learn about the history behind this jewel of the Canadian Rockies. We’ll learn about the significance of the Burgess Shale Quarries. Those who wish to will set out on a trail walk with our local expert to learn about the flora found on the western side of the Rockies. Those who choose not to go on the trail walk will have independent time to explore or relax. The local expert will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Dinner on your own this evening to explore local flavours

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Icefields Parkway, Columbia Icefields & Athabasca Glacier
Banff, Alberta
B,L
The Rundlestone Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 150 miles, approximately 4 hours throughout the day. Getting on/off Ice Explorer; driving about 3 miles roundtrip, approximately 1.5 hours. Elective stepping off of Ice Explorer; icy conditions.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: We’ll travel via motorcoach along the Icefields Parkway, one of the most spectacular stretches of scenic driving in Canada. The highway follows a lake-lined valley along the Continental Divide. We’ll spend the majority of the day in the Main Ranges; the mountains here are the highest, craggiest and arguably the most scenic in all the Rockies. En route, we’ll stop at scenic overlooks and our Group Leader will provide an overview of the surrounding area.

Lunch: At a scenic spot, we’ll enjoy a boxed lunch from a local restaurant

Afternoon: We’ll ride via motorcoach to the Icefields. On arrival, we’ll board an Ice Explorer and travel to the middle of the Athabasca Glacier. As we travel in safety and comfort, our driver will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features. At the mid-point, we will be able to step out onto ice formed from snow that fell about 200 years ago. After, we’ll board our motorcoach and return to Banff.

Dinner: Dinner on your own this evening to explore local flavours

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Women of the Rockies, Historic Banff & Museum, Free Time
Banff, Alberta
B,D
The Rundlestone Lodge

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the course of the day. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: At the hotel, we will attend a presentation by a local historian on the Women of the Rockies. We’ll learn about the legendary women who influenced backcountry travel, ranching, climbing, scientific research, writing, drama and art in this area. We’ll transfer by coach to explore the Whyte Museum, one of Banff's most culturally significant museums, and learn about the remarkable history of some of the locals and their cultural past through self-guided exploration. The museum features an art gallery and a vast collection of photographs telling the history of early explorers, artists and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Then take a walk back in time and get to know the colorful individuals who built the town of Banff. This guided exploration meanders through history to take you near the riverside site where Tom Wilson established one of the first outfitting operations in the area, St. Georges-in-the-Pines Anglican Church with its unique stained glass windows, and the Luxton Home and Garden. These and many other intriguing stops reveal the fascinating history of this town.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Continue exploring local sites with your Group Leader or head out to explore on your own. You might like to experience High Tea at the Banff Springs Hotel (must book in advance), take a boat cruise on Lake Minnewanka, or just relax at the hotel.

Dinner: Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Banff, Alberta
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. in the hotel

Morning: We’ll then check out of the hotel and transfer to Calgary International Airport (YYC); approximate arrival at the airport is 10:30 a.m. This concludes our program. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.