23813
Alberta

Great Hiking Get-Together: Choose Your Pace in Banff

Explore the world’s third oldest national park with a large group of enthusiastic hikers as you choose your trails in Banff and learn about the landscapes with local experts.
Program No. 23813RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
3,399
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
FREE
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8 days
7 nights
17 meals
7 B 5 L 5 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 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: At the hotel in Calgary, we'll enjoy a buffet dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: 7:30 p.m. 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. This is a Road Scholar Great American Get Together (GAGT) program. GAGT programs involve a large group of participants from all over the country who get to learn about a wide variety of topics and themes from some of Road Scholar’s most acclaimed instructors. For daily activities, participants will be divided into smaller groups. What follows is a representative schedule. The order of the elements each day will vary by group, but each group will have an opportunity to experience all scheduled activities. Periods in the schedule labeled "Free Time" and "At Leisure" offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always 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
Hiking Kananaskis, Canadian Cordillera
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Banff Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 150 miles, approximately 3 hours. Three levels of hiking options available: Mild (5 miles, 3.5-4 hours, starting elevation approx. 5600', elevation gain 250'), groomed trail along lakeshore; Moderate (5 miles, 3.5-4 hours, starting elevation approx. 5600', elevation gain 900'), defined trails, series of switchbacks; Motivated (10 miles, 5 hours, starting elevation approx. 5700', elevation gain 200'), defined trail with one section over rocks with steps.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we'll enjoy a full hot buffet breakfast with a selection of juices, coffee, tea, alternative milks, water and sparkling water included. Vegetarian, dairy free, and gluten free options available.

Morning: After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, we will have a scattered departure, with the Challenging level hikers leading first, then the Moderate, and finally the Easy level hikers. Each group will make their way by motorcoach to Kananaskis Country, a provincial park system on the way to Banff, sitting at the foothills and front ranges of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Formed 12,000 years ago, these glacial revealed mountains were made up of layers of limestone and fossilized sea creatures. Equally impressive as their geological age, archeological evidence of humans in the area, like the Stoney Dakota, Siksika, Blood, and Kootenai First Nations, goes back 8000 years. Hike at your own pace around glistening lakes, through deciduous forest, and over rocky shores, we will learn more about this spectacular ecosystem. As a reserve area, Kananaskis has immense wilderness value, with a variety of trees and shrubs, and rich bodies of fresh water it is a home to various threatened species, like bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, and westslope cutthroat trout.

Lunch: We will enjoy a trailside boxed lunch.

Afternoon: After lunch, our hiking exploration continues; we'll learn more about the incredible and diverse landscape, and the people, plants, and animals that call it home. In the afternoon we will board our coach and continue our journey to Banff. First settled in the 1880s after the building of the transcontinental railway, this would later become the birthplace of the Canadian National Parks system. Surrounded by mountains, the town has now become a premiere destination for nature enthusiasts. Upon arrival in town we will head to the Banff Centre, which will be our home away from home for the duration of our program. We will check into our rooms, have some time to unpack and freshen up, and then meet back for dinner.

Dinner: At the Banff Centre, we will enjoy a buffet meal with vegetarian, gluten, dairy free options available. Coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We will be joined by a Banff Centre insider to learn about the state-of-the-art design and architecture of the premises as well as the art, its resident artists, and leaders. Then, a local geologist will take us back in time to tell us about the formation of the Rocky Mountains. We will discuss the shifting of the tectonic plates, the formation of the North American cordillera, and the glacial landform that remains.

DAY
3
Hiking Moraine Lake
Banff, Alberta
B,L
The Banff Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 90 miles, approximately 2 hours. Three levels of hiking options available: Mild (4 miles, 4 hours, starting elevation approx. 6190’, elevation gain 475'), well defined, unpaved trail; Moderate (4 miles, 3.5-4 hours, starting elevation approx. 6190’, elevation gain 1280'), initial steep incline with switchbacks on defined trail; Motivated (7 miles, 4-5 hours, starting elevation approx. 6190’, elevation gain 1350'), not recommended for those with vertigo.

Breakfast: Banff Center buffet.

Morning: Today we are off to explore the spectacular landscape surrounding Moraine Lake. Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and rock piles, and the lake’s brilliant shade of turquoise waters changing in intensity as glaciers melt in the summer, this hike is sure to be entrancing. At 8.7 miles long, and at an elevation of 6,183 feet, the glacially fed lake does not begin to melt until June. There are a variety of trails of varying difficulty surrounding the lake, providing stunning views of the lake below, mountain peaks reaching to the sky in the distance. Along the way be sure to lookout for the Larches – the only coniferous trees to have needles that change color and are lost in the autumn.

Lunch: On the trails, we will enjoy a boxed lunch.

Afternoon: We will continue our exploration of Moraine Lake, watching for some of the area’s smaller inhabitants, like pikas, marmots, squirrels, chipmunks, and various birds. We may at one point even reach “The Twenty Dollar View,” named such when Moraine Lake was featured on Canada’s twenty-dollar bill from 1969 to 1979! After our hike, we will return to the Banff Center.

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

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Cave & Basin, Flora & Fauna of the Canadian Rockies
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Banff Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 30 minutes. Three levels of hiking options available: Mild (4.5 miles, 2-3 hours, starting elevation approx. 4600’ elevation gain 500') includes paved and well-groomed paths; Moderate (6.5 miles, 4 hours, starting elevation approx. 5100’, elevation gain 2100') follows well-groomed trails; Motivated (8 miles, 6 hours, starting elevation approx. 4700’, elevation gain 3000'), defined trails with short, steep inclines.

Breakfast: Banff Center buffet.

Morning: This morning we will stay close to home by exploring the trails around Banff town center. While on trail, we'll experience the dramatic views of the surrounding mountain peaks and dip into the valleys rich with moss and mixed green foliage. With the Bow River in close proximity, we'll hear the roaring echo of river water passing over rock.

Lunch: At a scenic spot, we'll enjoy our boxed lunches with sandwich, fruit, dessert, and drink.

Afternoon: This afternoon we are off to visit the birthplace of the Canadian National Parks system at Cave and Basin. With a Parks Canada expert, we will learn the warm waters issuing from Sulphur Mountain have been long-known to aboriginal peoples and eventually these same hot springs became the centerpiece of Canada's first national park (and the world's fourth). While here, 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 binoculars! We’ll then return to the center.

Dinner: Banff Center buffet.

Evening: After dinner, we will be joined by a local naturalist who will speak about the flora and fauna of the Rocky Mountains. With the diverse environmental factors of the mountains, with varying temperature, elevation, and precipitation, there is a wide variety of plants and animals. From herbivores like elk and moose feasting on grasses and bark, to predators like lynx and grizzly bears surviving off of the smaller inhabitants of the area, there is a complex chain of life to discover.

DAY
5
Indigenous History, Women of the Rockies, Free Time
Banff, Alberta
B
The Banff Centre

Activity note: Walking on pavement to the town center. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Banff Center buffet.

Morning: Today we will be exploring the town of Banff and learning more about the people that call this area of the Rocky Mountains home. We will start the morning with a presentation at the Banff Centre with an Indigenous expert, who will teach us about the local Indigenous groups like the Stoney Dakota and Blackfoot, and how they differ or are similar to other Indigenous groups in the mountains. We will also learn about cultural ways of knowing, as exemplified with the cultural knowledge of mountain plants, including harvesting and use. An expert from the Whyte Museum will then join us for a presentation on the early explorers of the region. We’ll learn about the historical and current figures that have shaped the mountain culture landscape, including the women whose lives are part of a legacy of backcountry travel, ranching, climbing, scientific research, writing, drama, and art. With these stories of knowledge, culture, bravery, and adventure, we will have scattered departures for a walk into the Banff town center.

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

Afternoon: Upon arrival at the town center, lunch, the afternoon, and dinner will be on our own. Our Group Leaders will be happy to offer suggestions for restaurants and activities. Stop by the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum to learn more about the Indigenous groups of the area. Experience some natural relaxation in the soothing warm waters of the world-famous hot springs. Visit one of the local stables for a one-of-a-kind exploration of the mountains by horseback. Take a shuttle to Sunshine Meadows and ride the gondola to the top and take in some of the most stunning alpine scenery and hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

Dinner: On your own in Banff to enjoy the local fare; you may wish to join the Group Leader at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Hiking Lake Louise, Mountain Tea House, Banff Mountain Film
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Banff Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving 70 mi, approx. 1.5 hrs. Three hiking options: Mild (4.5 mi, 4 hrs, starting elev. approx. 5680', elev. gain 1300'), short paved section followed by wide groomed trail, some steeper sections with stairs; Moderate (6.5 mi, 6 hrs, starting elev. approx. 5680', elev. gain 350'), short paved section followed by wide groomed trails, steep switchbacks on defined trail; Motivated (7 mi, 5-6 hrs, starting elev. approx. 5680', elev. gain 1200'), defined trails.

Breakfast: Banff Center buffet.

Morning: We'll board the motorcoach and ride to iconic Lake Louise, known the world over for its emerald green waters, rugged mountain peaks, and rolling glaciers. This spectacular area hosts a variety of trails through forests of evergreens, around mirror surfaced lakes, and close to mountain faces. Along the way, keep an eye out for hoary marmots, mountain goats, and pikas roaming the area in search of food. Having journeyed into the serene mountain wilderness, we will stop at a teahouse (either Lake Agnes or Plain of Six Glaciers, depending on the chosen activity level) for a rest.

Lunch: We will enjoy lunch beside one of the teahouses.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will continue our hike through picturesque Lake Louise.

Dinner: Banff Centre buffet.

Evening: At the Banff Centre, we will attend a screening of short films from the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival; the works are bursting with stories of profound journeys, unexpected adventures, and groundbreaking expeditions told by renowned authors, photographers, adventurers, and filmmakers from around the globe. There will be pre- and post-viewing commentaries about the festival and the film with an expert from the Banff Centre.

DAY
7
Hiking Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Banff Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 114 miles, approx. 2.75 hours. Three hiking options available: Mild (3.5 miles, 2 hours, starting elevation approx. 4265', negligible gain), scenic loop on defined trail; Moderate (6 miles, 4 hours, starting elevation approx. 4265', elevation gain 820') follows defined trails; Motivated (9 miles, 6 hours, starting elevation approx. 4265', elevation gain 820' on basin), defined trails with a section with loose scree and a well-traveled gravel surface.

Breakfast: Banff Centre buffet.

Morning: On our final day of hiking, we will depart for Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. 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. Here we will embark on a hike around the shimmering green waters of the lake and learn about the interesting plant species and natural formations we find along the way. Depending on the trail, we will experience a variety of terrain and ecosystems, from old growth forests of Douglas fir, cedar, and spruce, to a vast floor of scree fallen from the nearby mountains, to a lakeside meadow dotted with colorful wildflowers.

Lunch: We will enjoy a trailside boxed lunch.

Afternoon: We will finish our hiking exploration of Emerald Lake, taking in the spectacular views and scenic imagery it has to offer. We will then return to the Banff Centre for time to relax or one last chance to explore the Centre's amenities.

Dinner: Banff Centre buffet. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Transfer to Calgary Airport, Program Concludes
Banff, Alberta
B

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

Breakfast: Banff Centre buffet.

Morning: Departing the Banff Centre, group transfers to Calgary International Airport will start at 7:30 a.m. Our earliest expected arrival time is 9:30 a.m. This concludes our program. 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 another rewarding program 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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