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Outdoor Adventure in the Canadian Rockies With Your Family

Program No. 23439RJ
On this active adventure with your family, learn about the geology, wildlife and history of the Canadian Rockies and watch for grizzly bears, eagles, mountain goats and more!

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At a Glance

Experience the beauty of the majestic mountains as you ride on horseback along the Bow River trail with your family. Search for massive grizzly bears from up above on gondolas in one of the best places on earth to see them in the wild. An exploration of the Canadian Rockies is a dive deep into the great outdoors. Experience the incredible opportunity to explore the Rockies on hikes over iron catwalks above rushing rivers and on a white water raft as you glide over rapids. Together, you and your family will discover a region so abundant in wildlife, colorful nature and geology that you’ll think you’ve stepped into another world.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Walking two miles daily, stairs, river float on Class II to III rapids. Elevations up to 5,700 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Float the upper waters of the Kicking Horse River on a gentle but exhilarating white water rafting trip as your rafting instructor reveals the secrets of the mighty river.
  • Explore Yoho National Park, home to timber wolf, lynx, cougars, black bears, moose and more, and learn about Burgess Shale fossils, one of the most significant fossil sites in the world.
  • Witness a true feat of engineering — the Spiral Tunnels — two vast tunnels running figure-eight loops through the snowcapped mountains, and watch a train looping over and under itself, deep into the mountains and up the valley to the Kicking Horse Pass.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
Profile Image
Colleen Campbell
Colleen is a Victoria, British Columbia native who has lived all over Canada and in many parts of the world. She holds three degrees in visual arts, has studied in the sciences and has worked as a wildlife field researcher, concentrating on coyotes and grizzly bears. She believes that studying wildlife means learning about all their interactions — plants and other animals — and about how and where they travel. Colleen was also full-time faculty at Mount Royal in Calgary for more than 30 years.

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 Colleen Campbell
Colleen Campbell View biography
Colleen is a Victoria, British Columbia native who has lived all over Canada and in many parts of the world. She holds three degrees in visual arts, has studied in the sciences and has worked as a wildlife field researcher, concentrating on coyotes and grizzly bears. She believes that studying wildlife means learning about all their interactions — plants and other animals — and about how and where they travel. Colleen was also full-time faculty at Mount Royal in Calgary for more than 30 years.
Profile Image of Sonya Pollock
Sonya Pollock View biography
Sonya Pollock grew up in Calgary, Alberta and loved taking trips out to the Rocky Mountains as a child. These trips with her family solidified her love of nature and wildlife. Her passion for helping animals resulted in her pursuit of an MSc in animal behavior and welfare where she studied thermoregulation in the Indian rhinoceros. She’s currently a Ph.D. candidate in wildlife ecology at the University of Alberta where she studies grizzly bear habitat selection in Banff National Park.
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While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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7 days
6 nights
15 meals
6 B 4 L 5 D
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Calgary, Alberta
Best Western Plus Port O'Call Calgary Airport Hotel

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

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby 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. This is a Road Scholar Family program. Adult participants are responsible for their children at all times. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Minors are never to be left unsupervised. We will learn from a series of local experts who will give lectures and lead field trips with our knowledgeable Group Leader. Program-related travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. 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. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park, Transfer to Banff
Banff, Alberta
Royal Canadian Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 100 miles throughout the day, approximately 2 hours riding time. Walking up to 2 miles; uneven terrain. Wear sturdy shoes.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach, and set out on a field trip to the Calgary Zoo. We will encounter animals that call the prairies, sub-alpine forests, and Rocky Mountains home. As we wander along forested paths, we’ll see natural enclosures where brown bears can bathe in a pond, bison survey the land, and cougars and wolves nap in the sun. The Canadian Wilds section of the Calgary Zoo is also home to Skoki, a rescued Grizzly bear, whose story illustrates the sometimes sad consequences of human/bear interaction. Next, we will ride to Heritage Park Historical Village.

Lunch: At Heritage Park.

Afternoon: At Heritage Park Historical Village, Canada’s largest living history museum, we’ll step back in time to a village that depicts the history of Western Canada from the 1860s through the 1930s. Costumed interpreters help tell the story of Canada’s past with exhibits featuring steam trains, antique automobiles, and historical buildings that were transported to the park furnished and decorated with genuine artifacts. We will then transfer to Banff and check in to our hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Banff National Park: Johnston Canyon, Cave and Basin Site
Banff, Alberta
Royal Canadian Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 42 miles, approximately 1.5 to 2 hours riding time plus stops. Walking up to 2 miles; pavement and groomed trails, some stairs, uneven terrain at historic site.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will hop aboard the motorcoach and ride to begin our exploration of Banff National Park at Johnston Canyon. This spectacular canyon has been formed over thousands of years by the waters of Johnston Creek passing over limestone as it approaches the Bow River. The creek has cut through the limestone rock to form sheer canyon walls, as well as waterfalls, tunnels, and pools. We’ll traverse sturdy iron catwalks while the waters of the creek flow beneath our feet. As we go, we’ll scan the rocks and woods for abundant flora and fauna and keep an eye out for water ouzel — birds called dippers — that can usually be seen bouncing up and down on streamside rocks. These slate-grey birds are equipped with an extra eyelid that allows them to see underwater. They also have scales that close their nostrils when submerged.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: For our next expert-led field trip, we will ride to Cave and Basin National Historic Site, which gave birth to Banff National Park and the creation of Canada’s national park system. We’ll learn about the 1883 “discovery” of thermal hot springs, though First Nations people who had long known and revered this spot and the reputed healing power of the mineral-rich waters. We’ll understand why they regard the Cave and Basin as a sacred place as we see dancing lights in the cave’s bubbling waters.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Tonight we will have a scavenger hunt.

Horseback Riding, Ranching, Free Time
Banff, Alberta
Royal Canadian Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off horses; riding approximately 1 hour along a riverbank.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be matched with friendly horses and receive basic horseback riding instruction; no experience necessary. Helmets are mandatory and provided. We’ll then set out with lead and tail trail leaders and follow the Bow River on horseback. As we ride, keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife amongst the thick marshes and grassy meadows. We’ll pass by the birthplace of the Banff National Park, where craggy rock walls surround pools of bubbling thermal water. After returning, we’ll have a behind-the-scenes look at the horse stables, learn how a functioning ranch works, and about the daily activities of the staff. It’s not all romantic rides into the sunset!

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 to enjoy the local flavors of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

Grizzly Bears, Lake Louise Gondola, Moraine Lake
Banff, Alberta
Royal Canadian Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 75 miles throughout the day, approximately 1.5 hours total riding time. Walking up to 2 miles; pavement, groomed trails.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll learn from a wildlife expert about the role national parks play in grizzly bear conservation and how plants and animals have adapted to survive in this remarkable landscape. The Bow Valley is considered an internationally significant wildlife migration corridor within the Park and the Lake Louise area is notable for its critical grizzly bear, elk, lynx, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat habitat. As protected areas, the parks make an important contribution to grizzly bear conservation in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem. We’ll also learn how Parks Canada is conducting land use and management policies. We’ll then board a motorcoach and ride to the Lake Louise region. We'll board an open air chair lift at the Lake Louise Gondola that runs up and down the mountain. The grassy slopes below the gondola offer lush, rich vegetation and, if we’re lucky on our brief but exciting ride, we may be able to safely observe many of the different types of wildlife. We’ll also be able to views of the green waters of Lake Louise from the top of the mountain.

Lunch: We’ll have boxed lunches in a scenic area.

Afternoon: For our next field trip, we’ll ride to Moraine Lake. Surrounded by peaks and a deep teal color, this lake is nothing less than stunning and sits in the gorgeous Valley of the Ten Peaks. We will explore the area around Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise with our Group Leader and walk the trail around the lake. We’ll ride back to the hotel after our field trip.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: We’ll have a kids’ paint night with a local artist inspired by nature.

Whitewater Rafting, Yoho National Park, Field Centre
Banff, Alberta
Royal Canadian Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 100 miles throughout the day, approximately 2 hours total riding time. Getting on/off inflatable rafts; Whitewater rafting Class II to III, approximately 1.5 hours. Bring swimsuit and towel. Meticulously maintained and cleaned daily gear provided: neoprene wetsuits, booties, gloves, polar fleece sweaters, spray jackets, mandatory government-approved life jackets, helmets.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach and ride to Yoho National Park, where this section of the Kicking Horse River offers fun and splashy waves and rapids along with beautifully scenic float sections. It is the ideal introduction to whitewater rafting. With river experts at the helm, we’ll navigate six Class II and Class III rapids during the journey downstream, approximately 1.5 hours. “Alarm Clock” rapid just moments after pushing off from shore is sure to wake everyone up. “Hopi’s Hole” will dowse us. We’ll learn how the Kicking Horse River earned its name, what wildlife inhabits the area, and what makes the river its beautiful color? We’ll also enjoy the quieter, upper reaches of the Kicking Horse River.

Lunch: At the River Base, we’ll have a barbecue.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride on to the Spiral Tunnels, where we will see the trains go through the feat of engineering that was safer than the previously used switchbacks. Yoho’s name derives from the Cree word for wonder and awe. It boasts an impressive array of wildlife and geological marvels. At Emerald Lake, named for its remarkable color, 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. We will also visit the nearby Field Interpretive Centre that has informative displays including one with Burgess Shale fossils. Parks Canada staff will be available to provide information and answer questions.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We’ll gather for a wrap-up session and see a photo montage of our adventures. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
Banff, Alberta

Activity note: Group transfer departs Banff at 8:30 a.m., approximate arrival at Calgary airport 10:30 a.m. Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

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!

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