23039
Alberta

Banff to Glacier: Peaks & Badlands of Alberta & Beyond

Rocky Mountains, brilliant lakes, hoodoos and ancient petroglphys — Alberta has it all. Discover the diversity of Alberta’s landscapes, its pioneering spirit and rich native culture.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23039RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,799
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10 days
9 nights
25 meals
9 B 8 L 8 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Calgary, Alberta
D
Best Western Plus Port O'Call Calgary Airport Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Arrivals and transfers to Banff in the afternoon. There is an included group transfer departing Calgary airport at 3:00 p.m. If you arrive independently to Banff, please ask the front desk for your welcome packet.

Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.

Evening: After dinner 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. Periods in the daily 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/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
Glenbow Museum, Transfer to Banff
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
High Country Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving approximately 150 miles, about 3.5 hours. Some standing at museum.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and visit the Glenbow Museum for an introductory presentation on the natural and human history of Alberta. This is an unparalleled resource for illuminating the story Western Canada from late 19th century to present. Especially notable is the museum's vivid evocation of Indigenous cultures — particularly the Blackfoot people. Through an innovative use of personal belongings, clothing, tools, weapons, photographs, documents and maps, you’ll meet some of the men and women who shaped Alberta with their ingenuity, ambition and adventurous spirit. Explore the museum with a First Nations educator and examine artifacts ranging from a Blackfoot tipi and the elegant quillwork of the Plains Cree to the precious belongings of early European settlers and the hard-won comforts of a settler's cabin, discover Canada's Western heritage.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Continuing our journey to Banff, we’ll make some stops along the way to marvel at the mountains coming into sight and the beauty of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landscape between Calgary and Banff is ever-changing and provides a glimpse into the last ice age and the creation of the Canadian Rockies. As you approach Banff, we will have a clear view of the Front Range with its rocky, jagged peaks including Mt. Yamnuska. Continue to explore the Banff area by coach before checking-in to our hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Banff.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to explore the sights and sounds of Banff independently. For live entertainment, check out one of the local pubs or the Banff Centre. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

DAY
3
Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Geology, Gondola
Banff, Alberta
B,L
High Country Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach for short transfers. Several sets of stairs at Cave and Basin. Elevation at top of Sulphur Mountain is 8,041 feet (2,451 meters).

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet.

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and ride to Cave and Basin National Historic Site where we’ll be joined by an expert geologist for a presentation on the history and geology of the Canadian Rockies. Gain insight into the natural forces that formed the rugged landscape of the Rocky Mountains and the differences between the Front and Main Ranges. Learn about what geologists call the “Ring of Fire” and how some believe this uplift still continues today. We’ll then explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site with our expert. The warm waters issuing from Sulphur Mountain have long been known to aboriginal peoples and, later, these same hot springs became the centerpiece of Canada’s first — and the world’s third — national park. 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! Next we will head up Sulphur Mountain in a four-passenger, glass-enclosed gondola (weather permitting). This activity will reinforce what we have learned during this morning's presentation. Along the way, we will have a 360-degree view of the breathtaking beauty of the Rockies.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Banff on your own.

Dinner: On your own, or join the group leader at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake, Moraine Lake
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
High Country Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking about 1 mile during field trips, some standing.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet.

Morning: We’ll transfer from the hotel to experience some of the foremost geological highlights of the Rockies on a walking field trip to Yoho National Park, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake. Learn about area geology in trailside discussions with our expert naturalist.

Lunch: Enjoy a boxed lunch en route

Afternoon: We’ll then continue by motorcoach to Emerald Lake, another jewel of the Canadian Rockies. Embark 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: At a restaurant in Banff.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Bar U Ranch, Japanese Gardens, Lethbridge
Lethbridge, Alberta
B,L,D
Coast Lethbridge Hotel and Conference Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving approximately 4 hours, about 240 miles. Walking up to 2 miles on paved trails and packed dirt.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: We depart Banff and head south towards Lethbridge with stops along the way. At the Bar U Ranch, experience Western Canada's ranching history first-hand. Learn about the inner workings of a ranch and the development of the ranching industry in Canada as we explore on foot and on a wagon ride with expert interpreters.

Lunch: Get a taste of the west with a traditional, ranch-style meal.

Afternoon: We continue by coach to Lethbridge and the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden which expresses the merging of Japanese and Canadian culture in a garden rich in symbolism. It captures the essence of the southern Alberta landscape while using traditional Japanese philosophy and symbols. Learn about the history of Japanese Canadians, internment camps, and early Japanese settlers in a presentation and guided exploration of the gardens. The teahouse, bell tower, azumaya shelter, gates and bridges were handcrafted in Kyoto; built of aromatic wood from yellow cypress, dismantled, and shipped to Canada to be reassembled by master tradesman from Japan.

Dinner: Bento box dinner at the gardens.

Evening: We’ll transfer to the hotel in Lethbridge for check in.

DAY
6
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Hoodoos and Rock Art
Lethbridge, Alberta
B,L,D
Coast Lethbridge Hotel and Conference Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. The drive today is about 200 miles, approximately 3 hours. Walking 2 miles; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet.

Morning: We will board our motorcoach, and ride to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we will explore the largest concentration of stone art in the Great Plains with a local expert. The name in the Blackfoot language is Áísínai'pi, which means “it is pictured.” This is considered the most sacred place for the Blackfoot. Learn about the history of this special place through traditional knowledge and stories that have been passed down by First Nation elders. We’ll also hear about the flora and fauna, the history of the park, and its colorful past. Once part of an ancient inland sea, the park features sandstone, hoodoos, and cliffs and is also a nature preserve of the prairies.

Lunch: Box lunch under the Cottonwood trees.

Afternoon: Our field trip in the park will continue with expert First Nations interpreters. Examine some of the pictographs and petroglyphs that give Writing-on-Stone its name as we learn about the art, history, and First Nations culture. Home to various First Nations over 9,000 years, including the Blackfoot and Shoshone peoples, it also has a reconstructed outpost of the North-West Mounted Police, which eventually became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Mounties. Once part of an ancient inland sea, the park features sandstone, hoodoos, and cliffs and is also a nature preserve of the prairie. We’ll then transfer back to our hotel in Lethbridge.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Waterton Lakes National Park, Waterton & Glacier Cruise
Pincher Creek
B,L,D
Heritage Inn Pincher Creek

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; on/off a boat. The drive today is approximately 120 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Walking 2 miles; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet.

Morning: This morning we will check-out and depart for Waterton Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Canada’s fourth National Park. Waterton is named for the Waterton Lakes, the deepest lakes in the Canadian Rockies. Spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park spans diverse habitats from prairies to forests and mountains. With a local expert, we’ll explore and experience the fascinating and unique natural history and diverse ecosystems and learn about the park’s wildlife including lynx, bighorn sheep, river otters, bears, bald eagles, and wolves. While enjoying Waterton’s spectacular scenery, learn about its vast array of plants, from prairie to alpine meadows, from lilies and orchids to roses, including 50 of Canada’s rarest species.

Lunch: At a scenic spot in the park, we’ll have box lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll then step into history and natural beauty as we board the M.V. “International” — a wooden ship more than 90 years old. Gliding across clear waters, we’ll pass by dramatic mountain scenery with sharp cliffs, towering trees, and an abundance of wildlife. Cross the border between Canada and the U.S. as we cruise through the spectacular landscapes that make up the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park. Cruising on, we’ll head from Upper Waterton Lake in Alberta to Goat Haunt in Montana, getting wonderful views of the area’s diverse geology, flora, and fauna.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun Road
Pincher Creek
B,L,D
Heritage Inn Pincher Creek

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving about 120 miles, approximately 3 hours. Walking up to 1 mile.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet.

Morning: We’ll ride to Glacier National Park on the border with Canada, the other half of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and once the home of Blackfeet and Flathead peoples. Some of the finest fossilized examples of early life on Earth have been found here. Our Group Leader will provide commentary and lead an exploration of the town of St. Mary. The area is rich in wildlife and beauty. Keep a look out for deer and elk; and admire an array of wildflowers including Indian paintbrush, blanketflowers and lupine.

Lunch: At a scenic spot in the park, we’ll have box lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll continue to explore Glacier National Park and learn about the ecological and history of the park as we travel the majestic Going-To-The-Sun Road on the Red Bus. Stop along the way to visit exhibits, learn the history of the road, and take in the breathtaking scenery. We’ll also learn about the plants of this area and gain an understanding of why plant life flourishes in these high alpine meadows despite high winds, freezing temperatures, and a snowpack that persists for the majority of the year. Return to the hotel late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel.

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

DAY
9
Fort Macleod, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Calgary
Calgary, Alberta
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Port O'Call Calgary Airport Hotel

Activity note: Driving about 200 miles, approximately 3.5 hours. Walking 2 miles, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet.

Morning: Checking out of the hotel, we’ll set out on a field trip to Fort Macleod and learn about the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP), later the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The force was created in 1873 to bring law and order to the Canadian North West. The Fort Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the NWMP and First Nations People from the area. Examine some of the highlights of the NWMP history and development through a century and a quarter of service to Canada. Today’s Fort displays early NWMP, First Nations, pioneer, and present-day Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) artifacts. A highlight will be the famous musical ride performed by the RCMP. Back aboard our motorcoach, we’ll continue working our way to Calgary.

Lunch: At the café at Smashed Head Buffalo Jump.

Afternoon: Our next field trip is to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jump bears witness to a method of hunting practiced by native people of the North American plains for nearly 6,000 years. We’ll learn how — because of their excellent understanding of the regional topography and bison behavior — native people were able to hunt bison by stampeding them over a 36-foot cliff. It was abandoned after European contact. Local Blackfoot experts will help bring the past to life with customized interpretations describing the way of life, history, and traditions that live on today. The site has a museum on the Blackfoot people where we will learn about the cultures, history, and people who first made the area home. Transfer to Calgary for our final night.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Evening: We’ll have a wrap-up session after dinner. Share favorite experiences of the program with new Road Scholar friends. Then prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
10
Program Concludes
Calgary, Alberta
B

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

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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