Afternoon: Arrivals and transfers to the program hotel in Banff in the afternoon; check-in is 3:00 pm. Airport transfer available from Calgary airport; departs Calgary airport at 3:00 p.m. Meet your Group Leader between 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the hotel to register and get your welcome packet; or pick up your package at the front desk if you arrive after 5:00 p.m.
Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel at 6:00 p.m.; plated meal; coffee, tea water. Other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Orientation. Back at the hotel, the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless otherwise specified, transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach which will require going up/down a few steps when getting on/off. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. 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.
Activity note: Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; some stairs at historic site (can be avoided).
Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, buffet with hot and cold items; juice, milk, coffee, tea.
Morning: Explore Cave and Basin National Historic Site with a local expert and learn about the amazing discovery of the thermal hotsprings which led to the birthplace of Canada’s National Parks system. Learn about the establishment of Banff National Park and explore the site; from its thermal waters and historic bathing pavillion to the surrounding wetlands and the wildlife that inhabit it. 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 with our naturalist to the springs, easily accessible along a boardwalk, to see introduced tropical fish and warm-water plants. Bring your binoculars!
Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Step into the 1931 home of artists and Whyte Museum founders Peter and Catharine (Robb) Whyte, whose home illuminates their simple yet classic mountain style. Then journey back a generation to soak in the rustic elegance enjoyed by collectors Phillip and Pearl (Brewster) Moore in their 1907 home. This field trip provides an intimate look at both homes and the intriguing people who lived in them. In addition, visit to the galleries and exhibits in the Whyte Museum
Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water. Other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: An expert from the Whyte Museum will introduce you to the "Women of the Rockies". This presentation will introduce you to historical and current figures that have shaped our mountain culture landscape. Discover the women whose lives are a part of a legacy of backcountry travel, ranching, climbing, scientific research, writing, drama and art.
Activity note: Walking 1.5 miles, approximately 2 hours over the course of the day; easy, flat lakeside trail with no elevation gain. Stops along the way for interpretation. Total time on the coach is approximately 1.5 hours.
Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.
Morning: Discover the geological highlights of the Rockies, Lake Louise and Yoho National Park with a local expert. At Moraine Lake, learn about the geology of the area in trailside discussions.
Lunch: At Lake Louise in a scenic spot, we’ll have boxed lunches with a sandwich, drink and dessert.
Afternoon: After lunch we head for Emerald Lake, another jewel of the Canadian Rockies, with a stop at the Spiral Tunnels. We’ll go on an expert-led trail walk to learn about the interesting plant species found here and at the Burgess Shale quarries along Fossil Ridge. Thanks to its position on the west side of the Great Divide in Yoho National Park, a 360-degree view from Emerald Lake showcases four very different environments: a huge avalanche path, the pine forest, a dry and dramatic alluvial fan and the towering trees of the rainforest.
Dinner: Dinner on your own or join the Group Leader at a local restaurant.
Evening: Free time to head off on your own to discover one of the many activities Banff has to offer.
Activity note: There are stairs leading up to the entrance of the Columbia Icefields Interpretive Centre. The remainder of the field trip will be by motorcoach. Driving about 150 miles throughout the day; approximately 4 hours total. The Ice Explorer ride on Athabasca Glacier is 3 miles roundtrip during the 1.5 hour adventure.
Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.
Morning: Travel along the Icefields Parkway, 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 en route.
Lunch: At a scenic spot, we’ll have boxed lunches with a sandwich, drink and dessert.
Afternoon: Field trip continues at Columbia Icefields as we travel in a specially designed Ice Explorer to the middle of the Athabasca Glacier on a 3-mile (5 km) roundtrip journey. Our driver will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features as we travel in safety and comfort. At the mid-point, we will be given the choice to step out onto ice formed from snow fallen as long as 200 years ago. Board the coach and return to Banff late afternoon.
Dinner: Dinner on your own to enjoy local fare or join the Group Leader (at a local restaurant).
Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile on pavement.
Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.
Morning: Take an excursion up Sulphur Mountain in a four-passenger, glass-enclosed gondola (weather permitting). This activity will reinforce what you have learned during this morning's presentation. Along the way, you will have a 360-degree view of the breathtaking beauty of the Rockies. Bring your camera along, you will be amazed at the view from the top!
Lunch: Lunch on your own at the top of the mountain.
Afternoon: You may remain with your Group Leader to continue exploring local sites or take the opportunity to head off on your own to discover Banff. Experience High Tea at the Banff Springs Hotel, take the gondola up to Sulphur Mountain, a boat cruise on Lake Minnewanka or just relax at the hotel.
Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant in Banff, plated meal with salad, choice of entrée, dessert; coffee, tea, water. Other beverages available for purchase.
Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel is at 7:30 am.
Morning: Departures from the hotel in Banff after breakfast as per individual travel plans. Group transfer to Calgary airport available (included in cost) departs at 8:30 a.m.; approximate arrival at Calgary airport is 10:30 a.m. For those staying on independently check-out is 11:00 a.m. 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.