21439
Alberta/British Columbia
Spectacular Western Canada by Train and Ferry: Grizzlies, Orcas and Totems
Breathtaking vistas, unique wildlife, ancient cultures and traditional ways of life — discover this and more as you explore Western Canada from Alberta to the Inside Passage.
Rating (4.89)
Program No. 21439RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
3,895
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14 days
13 nights
34 meals
13 B 10 L 11 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Arrival and Check-in, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Banff, Alberta
D
High Country Inn

Dinner: Welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant at 6:00 p. m.

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.

DAY
2
Banff National Park, Cave & Basin Site, Johnston Canyon
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
High Country Inn

Activity note: Scenic Johnston canyon trail is approximately 1.5 miles to the waterfall and back.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant (El Toro).

Morning: Join a local expert to learn about the history and geology of the Canadian Rockies. Then explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. 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 introduced tropical fish and warm-water plants. Bring your binoculars!

Lunch: Lunch at Melissa's Missteak. Melissa's delightful and unique building has been a landmark in Banff since 1928. Locally owned and operated the restaurant takes great pride in offering fresh and "made from scratch" items on all menus.

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: Dinner at a local restaurant in Banff.

DAY
3
Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Yoho Park
Banff, Alberta
B,L
High Country Inn

Activity note: Trail walk at Emerald Lake is an easy 1.5 hour walk on a flat lakeside trail, no elevation gain. Stops along the way for interpretation

Breakfast: At a local restaurant (El Toro).

Morning: Discover the geological highlights in Lake Louise and Yoho National Park with a local expert. Visit Moraine Lake and hear about the ancient worm burrows preserved in some of the boulders.

Lunch: Picnic lunch in Lake Louise

Afternoon: After lunch we head for Emerald Lake with a stop at the Spiral Tunnels. Emerald Lake is another jewel of the Canadian Rockies. On a guided trail walk, learn about the interesting plant species found here and the Burgess Shale quarries along Fossil Ridge. Thanks to its position of the west side of the Great Divide in Yoho National Park, a 360-degree tour of Emerald yields up four very different environments: a huge avalanche path, the normal forest, a dry and dramatic alluvial fan and the towering trees of the rainforest.

Dinner: Dinner on your own; choose from a variety of dining options in Banff; or join your group leader at a local restaurant.

DAY
4
Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park
Jasper, Alberta
B,L,D
The Crimson

Activity 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 a local restaurant (El Toro).

Morning: We travel from mountains to glaciers as we depart for Jasper along the Icefields Parkway; linking Lake Louise to Jasper, 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.

Lunch: Box lunch at the Icefields.

Afternoon: 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.

Dinner: At the hotel in Jasper.

Evening: Free time to enjoy Jasper.

DAY
5
Maligne Canyon, Pyramid Lake, Palisades Stewardship Center
Jasper, Alberta
B,L,D
The Crimson

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: Lunch at the Palisades Centre.

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.

DAY
6
Skeena Train - Jasper to Prince George
Prince George, British Columbia
B,L,D
Ramada Prince George

Activity note: We board the Skeena and travel by train from Jasper, Alberta, through the Rocky Mountains, to Prince George, British Columbia in "touring class". Train departs approximately 12:45 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Prince George at approximately 7:15 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: There will be some free time to explore Jasper independently before we board the train. Today we embark on a two-day journey aboard Via Rail’s Skeena Train from Jasper, AB to Prince Rupert, BC, with an overnight stop in Prince George, BC. Travelling in touring class, enjoy sweeping views from the extra-large panoramic windows of the Panorama car at your seat. You will also benefit from exclusive access to the Park dome car. Experience spectacular views of Jasper National Park and the rugged Canadian Rockies, the hauntingly beautiful Pacific Coast and the rustic settlements, farms and sawmills dotting the lake-studded landscape.

Lunch: Served onboard the train (cold selections available).

Afternoon: Our rail journey continues through the Rocky Mountains to Prince George, BC. 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. Wildlife such as bear, moose, elk, deer, wolves, coyotes, eagles and hawks may be seen during the trip, depending on season and chance.

Dinner: Dinner on board the train (hot selections available). Choose from a variety of meal options, freshly prepared with seasonal ingredients served with a glass of red or white wine with your dinner.

Evening: We are scheduled to arrive in Prince George at approximately 7:15 p.m. Transfer to the hotel and enjoy some free time for the rest of the evening.

DAY
7
Skeena Train - Prince George to Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
B,L,D
The Crest Hotel

Activity note: Today we embark on the final leg of our train trek on Via Rail's The Skeena train. Board the train at approximately 7:00 a.m. and travel in “touring class”, from Prince George to Prince Rupert, BC. Approximate arrival in Prince Rupert is 8:30 p.m. Please note that train schedules are subject to change and delays are possible due to rail traffic or other conditions.

Breakfast: Breakfast will be served on board the train (cold selections available).

Morning: Today we embark on the final leg of our journey aboard Via Rail’s Skeena Train from Prince George, BC to Prince Rupert, BC. Board the train and travel in “touring class” to experience the magnificent scenery along the route. We wind through the Yellowhead Pass, across British Columbia’s interior plateau and long the mighty Skeena River. The ancient traditions of the native peoples, the not-too-distant pioneer days of sternwheelers, steam trains and panning for gold and modern history have all left their mark alongside the tracks. Many villages and towns along the line were surveyed and named by the railway. Important industries across the region include forestry, agriculture, mining, tourism and commercial fishing.

Lunch: Lunch will be served onboard the train (cold selections available).

Afternoon: Travel aboard the Skeena train continues as we make our way to Prince Rupert. 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. 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 (hot selections available). Choose from a variety of meal options, freshly prepared with seasonal ingredients served with a glass of red or white wine with your dinner.

Evening: Arrive to Prince Rupert late in the evening (approximately 8:30 p.m.); transfer to and check into our hotel.

DAY
8
Prince Rupert Walk, Pacific Northwest Cannery Historic Site
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
B,L,D
The Crest Hotel

Breakfast: Late breakfast at the hotel (8:30 a.m.).

Morning: A guided walk and presentation will provide an overview of Prince Rupert and the surrounding area. 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.

Lunch: At the Pacific Northwest Cannery Historic Site.

Afternoon: 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. 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.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

DAY
9
Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary Full Day Field Trip
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
B,L,D
The Crest Hotel

Activity note: The bear viewing field trip is 6 hours. All-weather vessels with a total capacity of 100 passengers Piloted by Coast guard approved 60 and 72 foot vessels have been specially designed for passengers comfort. Vessels are equipped with: Onboard washrooms, comfortable seating; viewing from the cabin or outside deck.

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 Chatham 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.

DAY
10
Museum of Northern British Columbia, Free Afternoon
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
B,L
The Crest Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel in Prince Rupert.

Morning: Discover the natural and cultural heritage of the Northwest Coast at the Museum of Northern British Columbia 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.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free afternoon.

Dinner: Dinner on your own in Prince Rupert. Free evening to explore on your own or rest up for tomorrow's Inside Passage cruise.

DAY
11
BC Ferry to Port Hardy, Canada's Inside Passage
Port Hardy, British Columbia
B,D
Quarterdeck Inn and Marine Resort

Activity note: This is a full day of travel with an early departure to board the ferry in Prince Rupert (depart hotel at 5:45 a.m.; ferry leaves at 7:30 a.m.) The ferry trip is 16 hours - participants will have a cabin onboard to relax or rest during the journey. Arrival in Port Hardy is approximately 11:30 p.m.

Breakfast: On board the ferry. A full hot breakfast buffet is served at 9:00 a.m.

Morning: Depart from Prince Rupert aboard BC Ferries Inside Passage route. Cruise southward through the awe-inspiring Inside Passage to Port Hardy. 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 Port Hardy, BC on Vancouver Island; transfer to the hotel. Located at the northern tip of Vancouver Island, BC, Port Hardy is nestled on the edge of the Queen Charlotte Strait, in the small Hardy Bay and the terminus for the Inside Passage Ferry.

DAY
12
Telegraph Cove: Whale Museum, Orca Whale Watching
Parksville, BC
B,L,D
Quality Resort Bayside

Activity note: To enhance our field trip, the boats are 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. There will be a brief on-board presentation about the whales and other marine mammals. The captain and naturalists are happy to answer questions throughout the day. Vessels carry up to 49 passengers and have on-board washrooms. Bring a light jacket or rain gear.

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 visit the Whale Museum for a guided visit before we head out on the water.

Lunch: Box Lunch

Afternoon: We will head out into the protected waters off the shores of Telegraph Cove, an ideal location to view and listen to orcas and other marine mammals as they feed, socialize and raise their young. 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.

Dinner: Dinner at the Killer Whale Café; built over the water, it is known for its yellow cedar post and beam style construction. The restaurant features beautiful copper tables and fittings and one-of-a-kind stained glass windows and doors.

Evening: After dinner we transfer by coach to a hotel close to where we will board the ferry in the morning). Transfer and check-in to hotel in Parksville.

DAY
13
Coach to Nanaimo, Coombs Country Market, Ferry to Vancouver
Vancouver, BC
B,D
Best Western Sands by the Sea

Activity note: The ferry crossing from Nanaimo to Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) is 1 hour 40 minutes.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We check out of the hotel and take a short trip to Coombs Country Market. Participants can pick up something for lunch at the market before we head for Nanaimo to catch the ferry back to Vancouver at 12:15 p.m.

Lunch: Lunch on your own on the ferry, or purchase lunch at the market.

Afternoon: The ferry arrives to the terminal in Horseshoe Bay (just outside of Vancouver) at approximately 2:00 p.m. We will have a guided coach exploration of Vancouver and Stanley Park before heading to the hotel to check-in.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY
14
Program Concludes, Departure
Vancouver, BC
B

Breakfast: Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at the hotel in Vancouver.

Morning: Departures from Vancouver after breakfast 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.