The Best of the Grand Tetons to Banff: Iconic National Parks
Explore six national parks — Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Waterton, Banff and Jasper — and discover unique waypoints like Old Faithful, Many Glacier, Lake Louise and much more!
Rating (4.96)
Program No. 20524RJ
12 days
Starts at
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12 days
11 nights
31 meals
11 B 10 L 10 D
Getting There
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Arrival and Check-in, Registration and Orientation, Dinner
Jackson Hole
The Lexington at Jackson Hole

Activity note: Walking four city blocks, total round trip, for dinner.

Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00 p.m. Upon check-in, the hotel Front Desk will give you your program welcome packet. Please review your packet which will contain your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that we will review during Orientation, and to confirm the time and location of Registration and the Orientation session. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet at the front desk when you check in. Program Registration will be between 4:00 and 4:45 p.m. in the hotel meeting room. Orientation will begin at 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome 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 any questions you may have. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: We'll walk a short distance to dinner this evening where we'll enjoy a buffet with choice of entrée, fresh garden salad, homemade French baguettes, dessert, Ice tea, lemonade, water or coffee.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in to your room, and get a good night’s sleep for the full day tomorrow.

Tetons, String Lake Walk, Museum Wildlife Art, Presentation
Jackson Hole
The Lexington at Jackson Hole

Activity note: String Lakes walk is 0.5 miles total. Minimal coach time spent in intervals between destinations. Our step-on guide will provide knowledge of the area both on the coach and at each of our stops.

Breakfast: At the Lexington enjoy a hardy breakfast buffet of handmade waffles, biscuits with sausage gravy, ham and cheese stuffed croissants, slow-cooked steel cut oatmeal with fresh toppings (brown sugar, raisins, craisins and chopped walnuts), seasonal fruit, yogurt with fruit toppings, locally made granola, assortment of cereals, toast, English muffins, pastries, fruit juice, local Snake River Roasting Company Coffee and hot tea.

Morning: With six different summits topping 12,000 feet, the Tetons are a paradise for lovers of the outdoors. We'll begin our week of adventure learning with an all day expert-led field trip through Tetons National Park. We'll learn about the makeup of the Tetons and all of it's magnificent ecosystems. Along the way we'll utilize a large relief model of the park that uses technology to demonstrate glacial movement and animal migration. Snuggled against the base of the Tetons lies String Lake, a serene and beautiful place to view mountain peaks reflecting in its glass-like waters. We'll take an interpretive guided walk along the shoreline of String Lake through towering forests of pine and alder.

Lunch: Enjoy a pre-selected lunch entrée with sides, beverage and dessert at the historic Signal Mountain Lodge - on the shore of Jackson Lake.

Afternoon: Congressionally recognized, the National Museum of Wildlife Art focuses on wildlife and nature. This museum is unique among American art museums. The NMWA was founded to enrich and inspire international appreciation and knowledge of fine art. At-your-own-pace discover a collection of over 5,000 catalogued works of art. Situated on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Jackson National Elk Refuge, the National Museum of Wildlife Art appears to emerge from the earth like a natural outcropping of rock. The Museum's location provides a rare opportunity to view wildlife in its natural habitat, as does the artwork that pays tribute to it.

Dinner: We'll dine at a local restaurant in the heart of downtown Jackson Hole. Enjoy a pre-selected entrée with salad, sides, beverage and dessert.

Evening: Tonight we'll be joined once more by our local expert as they present on the fascinating ecology and history of this majestic area.

Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park
Canyon Village
Canyon Village Lodge

Activity note: Coach time from Jackson, WY to our lunch destination in Yellowstone National Park is approximately two hours. There will be stops along the way to check-in at Canyon Village that afternoon.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: On our way north to Yellowstone with our expert Group Leader, we'll stop at the historic Jackson Lake Lodge. Built on a grand scale this 1950's lodge has sixty-foot-high windows that frame the Teton range. As we begin our Yellowstone National Park exploration we'll first stop at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Hydrothermal features are fragile rarities of nature. Yellowstone National Park preserves the largest collection of hydrothermal features on the planet. You'll have an unparalleled opportunity to view hot springs, geysers, mudpots, and fumaroles in a natural setting. Twin Geysers, the Abyss Pool, Black Pool, Lakeshore Geyser and Thumb Paint Pots are just a few of the amazing features you'll discover in the West Thumb caldera.

Lunch: Enjoy a cafeteria-style lunch at the Lake Village Lodge in Yellowstone.

Afternoon: Keep your eyes sharpened on the grass prairies of Hayden Valley on our way to Canyon Village. Hayden Valley is a hot spot for four legged wild and wooly wildlife. At the north end of Hayden Valley you'll discover the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The canyon formed after a huge volcanic eruption and subsequent lava flow. The soft rock was easily eroded by the Yellowstone River creating one of the most magical views in Yellowstone - the Lower Falls from Artist Point. Framed by the canyon walls the Yellowstone River thunders more than 308 ft over Lower Falls, creating a dynamic focal point. The canyon is also home to birds of prey such as bald eagles and osprey. Later this afternoon, we'll get checked into Canyon Village.

Dinner: Enjoy a cafeteria-style dinner at Canyon Village in Yellowstone.

Evening: After dinner you're encouraged to visit the Canyon Village Educational Center on a self exploration. A room-size relief map illustrates Yellowstone's volcanic activity, and a variety of interactive exhibits describe the formation of geysers, hot springs and other geologic features here and around the world. A giant lava lamp demonstrates how magma rises with heat convection. Murals, dioramas and panoramas show how glaciers and volcanic eruptions have shaped the landscape.

Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful Geyser
Canyon Village
Canyon Village Lodge

Activity note: Our day will consist of exploring Yellowstone National Park with intervals of time spent on the coach between destinations. Opportunities to step out and explore stops on boardwalks and paths will be complimented with the knowledge of our step-on guide throughout the day.

Breakfast: Enjoy a cafeteria-style breakfast at Canyon Village in Yellowstone.

Morning: Led by a Yellowstone National Park expert, explore some of the rare and fragile hydrothermal formations. For some, Old Faithful is the heart of Yellowstone. Old Faithful Geyser is neither the tallest nor the most frequently erupting geyser in Yellowstone, but it always provides a great show and is both highly accessible and predictable. Experience this textbook example of geyser activity along with the numerous other geysers surrounding Old Faithful with our expert guide.

Lunch: Enjoy a cafeteria-style lunch at Old Faithful.

Afternoon: We'll continue our expert guided discovery of Yellowstone and its rare and fragile ecosystems.

Dinner: Enjoy a cafeteria-style dinner at Canyon Village in Yellowstone.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants or explore more of the beauty of Yellowstone as you take a stroll around Canyon Village.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Travel to Helena Montana, Presentation
Radisson Colonial Hotel

Activity note: We will be checking out of Canyon Village this morning and departing to Mammoth Hot Springs. We will be stopping here for lunch before departing Yellowstone National Park. Following lunch, we will travel to Helena, MT. The time spent in the coach will be approximately 3.5 hours. Along the way there will be opportunities to stop for restroom breaks and to stretch our legs.

Breakfast: Enjoy a cafeteria-style breakfast at Canyon Village in Yellowstone.

Morning: This morning we'll continue our exploration of Yellowstone with our Group Leader as we visit Mammoth Hot Springs. Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine. Deposits of calcium carbonate create the unique appearance of a snow terraced landscape. Boardwalks will get you up close and personal with these amazing formations. Mammoth also serves as the Park headquarters and radiates a unique history of its own. It features some of the oldest buildings in the Park, including structures from the days when the U.S. Army managed Yellowstone.

Lunch: At Mammoth Hot Spring's dinning room enjoy a menu plated lunch.

Afternoon: This afternoon we'll make our way to Montana's capital city, Helena where we'll check in to the Radisson Colonial Hotel. Helena will be a one-night stop along the way to our Glacier National Park destination.

Dinner: This evening, enjoy a plated pre-selected dinner at the Radisson Colonial Hotel.

Evening: Following dinner, we'll be joined by a local expert for a unique oral presentation on history and early culture as he walks us through a map of Montana.

Glacier Park Lodge, Many Glacier
Many Glacier
Many Glacier Hotel

Activity note: After checking out in Helena, MT we will travel towards Glacier National Park. This morning will consist of approximately 3 hours in the coach before we reach our first destination of Glacier Park Lodge. There will be restroom stops and time to stretch your legs along the way. Here we will have lunch and enjoy the historic lodge before continuing in the coach another approximate 1.5 hours north to Many Glacier Hotel.

Breakfast: Before departing for Glacier National Park enjoy a breakfast buffet of French toast, choice of bacon, ham or sausage, scrambled eggs, seasonal fresh fruit, juice and coffee.

Morning: After checking out in Helena, we'll travel North West with our Group Leader to Glacier National Park with restroom stops and time to stretch your legs along the way.

Lunch: Enjoy a pre-selected sack lunch made fresh with sandwich, sides, piece of fruit and bottle of water.

Afternoon: This afternoon take the opportunity to stroll through the original Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier on a self exploration. The immense timbers that support the Lodge were around 500 to 800 years old when they were cut. There are a total of 60 timbers. They are 36 to 42 inches in diameter, 40 feet long, and all retain their bark. The timbers in the lobby are Douglas fir and the verandahs are supported by Cedars from Washington. Following lunch, we will have an opportunity to learn more about Glacier National Park from a local expert. Later in the afternoon we'll check in to Many Glacier Hotel. Many Glacier was built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railway as a destination resort for its rail tourists. The hotel sits among soaring peaks and glassy lakes.

Dinner: Enjoy a menu select dinner in the Ptarmigan Dining Room, located on-site at the hotel. With its lakeside views, this is the most refined of the restaurants located in Glacier National Park.

Evening: Many Glacier is a spectacular site set in one of the most scenic National Parks. It boasts amazing views, a plethora of wildlife and a relaxing atmosphere to help you wind down after a day of travel.

Explore Glacier National Park via the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Many Glacier
Many Glacier Hotel

Activity note: Top elevation of 6,647' today as we travel by way of the famous Red Buses. As we traverse the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass and back, there will be opportunities to get out and stretch your legs as well as visit the Logan Pass Visitor Center. The Red Bus journey will last approximately 4 hours. There will be opportunities for restroom breaks along the way.

Breakfast: Menu select in the hotel dinning room.

Morning: This morning we will be joined by a local expert for a unique Native Folklore presentation in the Many Glacier meeting room.

Lunch: Menu select at the hotel.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll explore Glacier by way of the famous Red Buses along with expert drivers who offer narrative along the way. Glacier National Park, named for the glaciers that carved it, is the undisputed "Crown of the Continent." Here, over one million wild acres crown the Continental Divide, a place where lush green parklands meet up with towering jagged peaks sporting some of the world's oldest rock. Glacier National Park is a rugged country with a rare ecosystem of indigenous wildlife from bear grass to grizzly bears. We'll begin our exploration of Glacier with a trip to Logan Pass via the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. This National Historic Landmark is the only road that crosses Glacier National Park and is a testament to human ingenuity as portions of the road hug the mountain sides. Switch backs and tunnels were constructed to help visitors bypass through some of the most spectacular scenery Glacier National Park has to offer. We'll stop at Logan Pass, located along the Continental Divide, where waters flow toward both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Logan Pass is the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun Road with an elevation of 6,647'.

Dinner: Menu select at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure to roam around Swift Current Lake or sit and relax along its scenic shores.

Travel to Waterton, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canmore
Canmore, AB
Holiday Inn Canmore

Activity note: Have your passports accessible for the US/Canadian border crossing. After checking out of Many Glacier, coach time is approximately 1.25 hours to Waterton. Following our stop at the historic Prince of Wales Hotel, we will travel to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, coach time approximately 1.25 hours. Here there will be periods of standing and walking, with opportunities to sit as we explore this center. After departing to Canmore, coach time is approximately 3 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Menu select at the hotel.

Morning: This morning REMEMBER YOUR PASSPORT as we'll travel into Alberta Canada along with our Group Leader to visit Waterton Lakes National Park. Although active glaciers vacated Waterton's borders years ago, the results of ice gnawing on its landscape left lake pockets strewn through the park, one of these lakes being Upper Waterton Lake, the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies. While in Waterton we'll visit the historic Prince of Wales Hotel. Designated a Canadian National Historic Site, the 122-foot-tall, four-story hotel took more than a year to build. Constructed by the Great Northern Railway its massive lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows frame Waterton Lake. Next we'll depart Waterton Lakes National Park and visit the famous Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is an archaeological site known around the world as a remarkable testimony of the life of the Plains People through the millennia. The Jump bears witness to a method of hunting practiced by native people of the North American plains for nearly 6,000 years.

Lunch: Enjoy a pre-selected sack lunch made fresh with sandwich wrap, sides, piece of fruit and bottle of water.

Afternoon: This afternoon we'll arrive at the gateway to Banff National Park in Canmore and check into the hotel. This area is the crown jewel in Canada's National Park system with its dense coniferous forest and alpine landscapes.

Dinner: After arriving at our hotel, enjoy a plated pre-selected dinner with entrée, sides, dessert and beverage in Canmore.

Evening: At leisure to get settled into your room or roam around the quaint town of Canmore.

Banff, Sulphur Mountain Gondola, Free Time, Presentation
Canmore, AB
Holiday Inn Canmore

Activity note: This morning we travel by motor coach approximately 30 minutes into Banff to the Whyte Museum. Here we will self-tour the museum, with opportunities to sit. Motor coach to our next few stops, all under 10 minutes away. Elevation of 8,041' as we take the Gondola up Sulphur Mountain. Following Banff, return by motor coach to hotel, approximately 30 minutes. For dinner, motor coach from the hotel to a local restaurant under 10 minutes away, returning to hotel by motor coach following dinner.

Breakfast: Enjoy a buffet style breakfast at the restaurant inside the hotel.

Morning: This morning we'll tour some of Banff's most historic and scenic spots with our Group Leader. Far from the wild peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Catharine Robb and Peter Whyte met at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art in 1927. She was a Boston debutante. He was a member of one of Banff's pioneer families. They married in 1930, and made Banff and the Canadian mountains their home. A studio was built one year later where they would live and paint the grandeur of their beloved mountains. This morning we'll self-tour the Whyte Museum. Next, we'll ride a Gondola up to Sulphur Mountain, elevation of 8,041'. From the observation deck, breathtaking views of Banff, Bow Valley, Cascade Mountain, Lake Minnewanka, and the Fairholme Range await you.

Lunch: Enjoy a cafeteria-style lunch at the Summit of Sulphur Mountain.

Afternoon: Free Afternoon: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The area has several museums and local art galleries to explore.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a plated pre-selected dinner with entrée, salad, side, dessert and beverage.

Evening: Enjoy an evening presentation from a local area expert as why learn what makes this area so unique.

Jasper National Park, Snow Coach Excursion, Lake Louise
Canmore, AB
Holiday Inn Canmore

Activity note: Today we will travel along the Icefields Parkway into Jasper National Park. Coach time approximately 3 hours. Here we will partake in a Snow Coach Excursion. Wear warm clothes and bring a coat as it is often snowing on the glacier. Our excursion is in an enclosed snow coach, with an optional opportunity to get out and safely walk on the surface of the glacier. Afternoon coach time will vary as we depart back towards Canmore with stops along the way including the famous Lake Louise.

Breakfast: Enjoy a buffet style breakfast at the restaurant inside the hotel.

Morning: Travel north to Jasper National Park for an all day expert-led field trip, beginning with a snow coach excursion onto the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields. The snow coach journey is lead by experienced drivers who will share a wealth of fascinating information about glaciers, icefields and their impact on our environment. Mid-point tour, passengers can safely step out onto the glacier and stand on this powerful ancient ice.

Lunch: Enjoy a pre-selected sack lunch made fresh with sandwich, sides, and bottle of water.

Afternoon: Return trip to Canmore with scenic stops along the way, including a stop at Lake Louise. As you witness the spectacular beauty of Mount Victoria reflecting in the sparkling waters of Lake Louise, you'll understand why this lake is regarded as one of the most tranquil and beautiful lakes in Canada. Overlooking the magnificent scene, Fairmont Château Lake Louise is without a doubt one of the world's most photographed hotels. This afternoon, enjoy a self-exploration of Lake Louise in all of its splendor.

Dinner: This dinner has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the cuisine of your choice. Canmore has numerous restaurants. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader for dinner at your own cost if you like.

Evening: Free evening to explore more of the beautiful town of Canmore.

Heritage Park Historical Village, Calgary
Sheraton Cavalier Hotel

Activity note: After departing Canmore we will travel towards Calgary. Coach time is approximately 1 hour. Here we will stop at the Heritage Park Historical Village. We will have lunch and be joined by a local interpretive guide as we get a chance to explore the village, the walk will be approximately 2/3 mile. There will be additional free time available here to further explore your interests. After departing towards our final destination there is approximately 30 minutes spent on the coach.

Breakfast: Enjoy a buffet style breakfast at the restaurant inside the hotel.

Morning: After a leisurely breakfast we'll check out of the hotel in Canmore and depart for Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary. Here you’ll have a chance to get your hands on history as we explore the culture and traditions of the Plains First Nations to the fur traders, missionaries and early settlers. Here we will get a firsthand look at the traditional challenges that faced these groups as well as a glimpse into early life by way of exploring the Heritage Park Historical Village. Discover how early settlers learned to endure a harsh environment and learn about the cultural exchange that took place that helped them to adapt and survive.

Lunch: Enjoy a buffet style lunch at the Heritage Park Historical Village.

Afternoon: This afternoon you'll have a chance for self exploration at the Heritage Park Historical Village. Later in the afternoon we'll check into the Sheraton Cavalier - the end destination of our 12-day exploration in the Rocky Mountains.

Dinner: At the Sheraton, we'll celebrate a week full of adventure and learning with a casual final dinner together. Enjoy a pre-selected plated meal with entrée, salad, sides, and dessert plus an optional glass of wine, coffee, iced tea, lemonade or water; other beverages available for purchase.

Program Concludes

Activity note: Independent Departures

Breakfast: Menu select in Color's Bistro in the Sheraton. This concludes our program. Please note that hotel check-out is by 12:00 p.m. 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!

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