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Alberta

Christmas in the Canadian Rockies

Program No. 16593RJ
Join us for Christmas in Banff to experience the winter wonderland of the Canadian Rockies. Learn about the local wildlife and culture, and marvel at the majestic mountain scenery.

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 21 - Dec 26, 2024
Starting at
3,299
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 21 - Dec 26, 2024
Starting at
4,279

At a Glance

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas filled with old-fashioned charm and stunning mountain scenery, then join us for the holidays in Banff! Savor breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies as you learn firsthand about local wildlife like deer and elk. Dip your hands in thermal waters at Cave and Basin National Historic Site, marvel at colorful lights shimmering in the cavern and discover plumes of steam billowing through the cave’s vent. Experience everything Christmas in the Rockies can offer as you celebrate the season with new friend and Christmas cheer!
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to one mile daily on varied terrain; snow and ice, slippery conditions. Elevations up to 4,540 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Harken back to a bygone era as you dash through the snow on a horse-drawn sleigh through the pristine Bow River Valley.
  • Sip afternoon tea in the luxurious Banff Springs Hotel as you gaze out at the majestic mountain peaks of Banff.
  • Learn about the culture shaped by the mountain landscape at the Whyte Museum and hear the stories of the early explorers drawn to these rugged mountains.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Brent MacDonald
Brent Macdonald has been a resident of the Canadian Rockies for almost 30 years. As a geology expert, he provides a wealth of knowledge about geography and geomorphology. Brent has had a diverse career as a freelance natural history interpreter, also working as a consultant for a geotechnical engineering company. He has shared his knowledge of geology and natural history as an interpreter and guest lecturer. Brent is also a certified mountain leader and ski instructor.

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

Profile Image of Brent MacDonald
Brent MacDonald View biography
Brent Macdonald has been a resident of the Canadian Rockies for almost 30 years. As a geology expert, he provides a wealth of knowledge about geography and geomorphology. Brent has had a diverse career as a freelance natural history interpreter, also working as a consultant for a geotechnical engineering company. He has shared his knowledge of geology and natural history as an interpreter and guest lecturer. Brent is also a certified mountain leader and ski instructor.
Profile Image of Greg Allemang
Greg Allemang View biography
Growing up in the military has brought Greg across Canada and given him a real taste of everything the country has to offer. Finally settled now in the Calgary area, Greg has followed his passions for his country to study travel management and become a certified hiking instructor. Greg also enjoys climbing and enjoying the beautiful wilderness that surrounds his home. His love of nature has fueled his passion for connecting people to their environment and showing off his country to visitors.
Profile Image of Jennifer Royal
Jennifer Royal View biography
Jen Royal graduated with a bachelor’s in Canadian history from the Wilfred Laurier University and has over ten years of experience teaching, leading and interpreting history. She has worked at the Whyte Museum since 2014 in both the Education Department and the Archives and Library.
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.
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.
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.
Alberta Wildlife
by James Kavanagh
FIELD GUIDE, 2005, PLASTIC CARD A fold-up, laminated card featuring color drawings and short descriptions of commonly encountered wildlife in Alberta. (CND279, $5.95)
Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains
by James Halfpenny | Todd Telander
An essential pocket guide to 70 species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, with line drawings, range map and description.
Moon Handbook Canadian Rockies
by Andrew Hempstead
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.
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.
Canadians, A Portrait of the Country and Its People
by Roy MacGregor
A journalist and popular author, MacGregor takes the full measure of Canadian life in this irreverent, entertaining portrait of a people.
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6 days
5 nights
10 meals
4 B 2 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Banff, Alberta
D
The Rimrock Resort Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Orientation: 7:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will learn from a series of local experts who will give lectures and lead field trips. Program-related travel will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/current conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Banff Geology, Cave & Basin, Whyte Museum
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Rimrock Resort Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 1 mile, over 3.5 hours on pavement and boardwalks; slippery terrain with snow or ice. Dress warmly in layers.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll ride on the motorcoach to the Banff Park Museum, which displays an extensive collection of natural history specimens from stuffed bears to minerals and plants. The museum is also involved in educating the public about natural resource management. We’ll explore the museum with a Park expert and learn about the wildlife found in the Banff area. Afterwards, take the motorcoach back to the hotel, or stay downtown to explore independently.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll continue on the motorcoach and 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, we’ll 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, we’ll visit the galleries and exhibits in the Whyte Museum including the “Gateway to the Rockies” exhibit and learn how these mountains were opened up to all. Who were the guides in this unforgiving landscape? Who protected it? Many people have been drawn to these peaks; come discover their stories. The Museum also has exceptional collections documenting the Stoney First Nation. Its art collection contains close to 4,000 works relating to the visual arts of the Canadian Rockies, including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, prints, mixed media works and objects of fine craft. We’ll then take the motorcoach back to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At the hotel, an expert from the Whyte Museum will introduce us to the “Women of the Rockies.” This presentation will introduce us 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.

DAY
3
Banff & Bow Valley, Free Time
Banff, Alberta
B
The Rimrock Resort Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; approximately 4 hours riding time with stops. Mileage and routing for the motorcoach exploration will be weather dependent. Dress warmly in layers.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will depart with our Group Leader for a motorcoach exploration of Banff and the surrounding area. See the area in all its winter wonder with waterfalls and lakes providing dramatic winter scenes. Keep an eye out for wildlife seeking shelter from the elements; animals shelter themselves in the valley against harsh winter conditions, but you can still spot, elk, coyotes and sometimes deer and wolves. Afterwards, we’ll return to the hotel.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

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. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy outdoor festivities at the holiday bonfire or relax by the fireplace. Alternatively, stroll through the town of Banff and admire the decorations.

DAY
4
Banff Park Museum, Banff, Free Time, Christmas Eve
Banff, Alberta
B,D
The Rimrock Resort Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile during morning field trip on paved walkways; slippery terrain with snow or ice. Dress warmly in layers. Extent and duration of walking and other free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll ride on the motorcoach to the Banff Park Museum, which displays an extensive collection of natural history specimens from stuffed bears to minerals and plants. The museum is also involved in educating the public about natural resource management. We’ll explore the museum with a Park expert and learn about the wildlife found in the Banff area. Coach transfer back to the hotel or stay downtown to explore independently.

Lunch: On your own to explore the many dining options in Banff, or join the Group Leader at a local restaurant at your expense.

Afternoon: Free time to take part in Christmas celebrations; or some winter activities such as snowshoeing or skiing; the sparkling, glacier-fed waters of Banff National Park freeze over in winter, providing you with some of the most scenic ice skating rinks in the world. Information and choices will be provided. We will regroup in the late afternoon at the hotel to join in the Christmas Eve celebration with a cocktail reception, and carol sing-along.

Dinner: At the Rimrock Hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Feel free to attend midnight service or just relax at the hotel. Information on church services will be supplied to you on arrival at the hotel.

DAY
5
Afternoon Tea, Banff Springs, Sleigh Ride, Christmas Dinner
Banff, Alberta
L,D
The Rimrock Resort Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking less than 1 mile on paved walkways; stairs; slippery terrain with snow or ice. Dress warmly in layers. Warm blankets and hot chocolate provided for sleigh ride.

Breakfast: On your own.

Morning: Free time to attend a church service or take part in Christmas activities. Information will be provided on area services and activities available on Christmas Day.

Lunch: We’ll head out by motorcoach to the historic Banff Springs Hotel for afternoon tea. Since 1888, the Fairmont Banff Springs has symbolized the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies. Styled as a Scottish baronial castle, it was originally built for adventurous travelers crossing the Canadian Rockies by train. The grandeur of the holiday décor will add to this special experience. See why few hotels in the world can rival its majesty, hospitality and location. We will enjoy a festive-themed afternoon tea while overlooking the breathtaking view of the snow-capped mountains at the Banff Springs Hotel.

Afternoon: A short motorcoach ride will take us to the stables to embark on a 45-minute horse-drawn sleigh ride through the winter wonderland of the Canadian Rockies, a unique and memorable way to experience another side of this wonderful mountain area. Glide beneath the snowy boughs and over fields of white powder in a crisp and clear afternoon or beneath the moonlit sky. Snuggle beneath warm wool blankets and breathe in that fresh mountain air as we sip hot chocolate and listen to the jingle of the sleigh bells. The friendly drivers will help deliver the perfect “Western Touch.”

Dinner: We’ll enjoy a spectacular Christmas feast in a private room at the Rimrock Hotel. Mix and mingle until the festive meal begins. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

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

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Banff, Alberta
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. 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.