3748
Alberta/British Columbia

The Best of the Rockies by Rail: Western Canada's Splendor

Voyage to the heart of the Canadian Rockies by train — and glass-enclosed gondola! — discovering ancient glaciers, unique wildlife, isolated towns and stunning alpine views.
Rating (4.96)
Program No. 3748RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
4,799
Special Offer
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12 days
11 nights
27 meals
11 B 9 L 7 D
DAY
1
Arrival & Check-In, 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: Arrive to Calgary and transfer to the hotel. Program Registration. 4:00-5:00 p.m. Come meet our group leader in the lobby and get your welcome packet. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in and the front desk will be happy to help you.

Dinner: At the hotel at 6:00 p.m.

Evening: We’ll begin our evening with an orientation session where we’ll get to know each other as well as review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes. We’ll go over important information as well as have time for questions. 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 or settle in for the night. You may also wish to explore what the city has to offer.

DAY
2
Glenbow Museum, Transfer to Banff
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Rundlestone Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking approximately 1/2 mile at museum, some standing.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: This morning we depart on a field trip to the Glenbow Museum, Western Canada’s largest museum. Docents will be on hand to answer questions during our self-directed exploration. This is an unparalleled resource for illuminating the story Western Canada from late 19th century to present. Especially notable is its 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 48 Mavericks - men and women who shaped Alberta with their ingenuity, ambition and adventurous spirit.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy 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.

Dinner: We'll enjoy dinner at the hotel

Evening: At leisure. You might like to explore the town of Banff, walk along local trails, swim at one of the hot springs, or just relax.

DAY
3
Banff Geology, Cave & Basin, Sulphur Mountain Gondola
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Rundlestone Lodge

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

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: At Cave and Basin National Historic Site, we’ll be joined by an expert geologist for a presentation on the history and geology of the Canadian Rockies. We’ll gain insight into the natural forces that formed the rugged landscape of the Rocky Mountains and the differences between the Front and Main Ranges. We’ll also learn about what geologists call the “Ring of Fire” and the role of plate tectonics and volcanic activity in the area. We’ll then explore the dancing lights and bubbling water of Cave and Basin National Historic Site with our expert. Indigenous peoples have long-known and revered this spot and the reputed healing power of the mineral-rich waters and regard the Cave and Basin as a sacred place. The 1883 “discovery” of the thermal hot springs at the site by railway workers led to the birth to Banff National Park and the creation of Canada’s national park system.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant

Afternoon: Next (weather permitting), we’ll glide up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain in 4-passenger, glass-enclosed gondolas to reinforce what we learned this morning. At a height of 7,486 feet (2,281 metres), we’ll have a bird’s eye, 360-degree view of the breathtaking beauty of the Rockies. Don’t forget your camera!

Dinner: We’ll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Lake Louise, Yoho National Park
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
The Rundlestone Lodge

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; well-maintained trails, paved pathways, some inclines.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Experience some of the foremost geological highlights of the Rockies on a walking field trip in Yoho National Park, Lake Louise, and iconic Moraine Lake – one of the most photographed sites in the Rocky Mountains. With its name deriving from the Cree word for wonder and awe, Yoho boasts an impressive array of wildlife and geological marvels. We’ll learn about the natural history of the area in trailside discussions with our expert naturalist.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy box lunches at a scenic area.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll travel to Emerald Lake, another jewel of the Canadian Rockies’ crown. On an expert-led trail walk, learn about the interesting plant species found here and 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: We’ll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Whyte Museum, Moore Home, Banff Springs Hotel, Free Time
Banff, Alberta
B,L
The Rundlestone Lodge

Activity note: Walking approximately 1/2 mile at museum, some standing.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Step into the 1931 home of artists Peter and Catharine (Robb) Whyte, founders of Whyte Museum, whose home illuminates their simple yet classic mountain style. Then soak in the rustic elegance enjoyed by collectors Phillip and Pearl (Brewster) Moore in their 1907 home. This field trip provides an intimate look at both homes and the intriguing people who lived in them. In addition, we’ll visit the Whyte Museum, where we’ll learn more about the early settlers, frontier explorers, Indigenous peoples and the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Canadian Rockies. The museum features an art gallery, large collection of photographs, objects and several preserved outbuildings which all serve to illustrate the region’s vibrant cultural history.

Lunch: At the historic Banff Springs Hotel, we’ll have afternoon tea here at the famed “Castle in the Rockies.” The original hotel opened in 1888, was burned and rebuilt in the 1920s, and named a National Historic Site in 1991.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for 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.

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. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Icefields Parkway Center, Athabasca Glacier, Ice Explorer
Jasper, Alberta
B,L,D
The Crimson Jasper

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Stairs to Columbia Icefields Interpretive Centre entrance. Getting in/out of Ice Explorer vehicle. Remainder of field trip completed by motorcoach.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Depart for Jasper, riding along the Icefields Parkway, one of the most impressive stretches of scenic driving in the world, linking Lake Louise to Jasper. The highway follows a lake-lined valley between two chains of the Eastern Main Ranges that make up the Continental Divide, where water on one slope falls west toward the Pacific Ocean, and on the other slope flows east to the Arctic Ocean or north to Hudson's Bay. The mountains here are the highest and craggiest, framing vast sweeping valleys and numerous glaciers.

Lunch: En route, we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: This afternoon, travel to the middle of the Athabasca Glacier, on a 3-mile round trip journey, via a specially designed Ice Explorer vehicle. Our driver will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features as we travel in safety and comfort. At midpoint, we will have an opportunity to step out onto and touch this ancient ice that reaches depths of 270-1000 feet (90-300m). Arriving in Jasper late afternoon, we’ll check into our hotel with time to freshen up before dinner. Jasper lies in the center of Jasper National Park, deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, and it is known around the world for its rugged beauty. It is also a renowned, world-class resort town that has many attractions, yet retains its small-town feel. The distance from large urban centers and relatively intact ecology provide a real sense of the early days in the Rockies.

Dinner: We'll enjoy dinner at the hotel

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Jasper National Park, Pyramid Lake, Maligne Canyon
Jasper, Alberta
B,L
The Crimson Jasper

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile (1.5km); paved or maintained trails.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Our expert naturalist will join us at the hotel to discuss the ecology of Jasper National Park. We’ll continue with our local expert naturalist who will lead our exploration in Jasper National Park including Maligne Canyon and Pyramid Lake. On the scenic Maligne Canyon trail, we’ll see learn how this deep canyon formed during glacial ages. Explore the spectacular vantage points, flower meadows, and sapphire blue mountain lakes and search for fossils. The forests of this area are home to mountain goats, elk, moose, and bears as well as a variety of birds, including bald eagles.

Lunch: We'll enjoy lunch at the hotel

Afternoon: Next, we’ll learn about the history of Jasper National Park in a presentation with our local expert. Canada's largest and most northerly Rocky Mountain park, Jasper encompasses over 4,200 square miles and boasts healthy wildlife populations, including grizzly bears and wolves. The combination of startling blue-green mountain lakes, soaring peaks and broad, forested valleys makes this one of the world's premiere national parks. The park's distance from large urban centers and its relatively intact ecology create a special sense of the early days in the Rockies. br> There will be some free time, one option is to visit the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives, which highlights the history of the Jasper-Yellowhead corridor from its earliest visitors 10,000 years ago to the present day with experts from the museum. The Historical Gallery includes exhibits on the fur trade, the pioneers, the railways and the early days in Jasper and the Park.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy local fare. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

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

DAY
8
Rocky Mountaineer Train to Kamloops
Kamloops, British Columbia
B,L
Kamloops Hotel TBA

Activity note: Lengthy train travel day, Jasper to Kamloops. Pack everything you need including medications in a small bag (not to exceed 9" x 36" x 18" / 23 x 92 x 46 cms) to be stowed under your seat. Other luggage will be transferred to Kamloops hotel.

Breakfast: We'll enjoy breakfast on the train

Morning: After an early check-out, we’ll depart for the train station and board the Rocky Mountaineer with Silver Leaf Service to Kamloops. The single-dome, luxury coach with large glass windows offers excellent views of the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies. Train attendants will provide interpretive commentary as we ride. We’ll travel from Jasper to Kamloops along the Thompson River and through the Monashee Mountains — past sparkling lakes, across trestle bridges, through tunnels carved out of rock and under mountain peaks crowned with snow. We’ll also pass Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 feet (3,954 meters) and beautiful Pyramid Falls.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch on the train

Afternoon: Arriving in Kamloops, we’ll transfer to the hotel. Situated in the southern interior of British Columbia at the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers in the Thompson Valley, the city’s name comes from the First Nations word Kahm-o-loops, meaning “meeting of the waters.” The fur trade attracted the first Europeans, who established a trading post here in 1812. Gold rush fever in the 1850s and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s contributed to the rapid expansion of the settlement. Until the 1860s, the fort at Kamloops was an important depot for the horse-drawn pack trains that traveled to and from the coast. Today, Kamloops is the third-largest city in the southern interior of British Columbia and the fifth-largest in the province.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like in Kamloops. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

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

DAY
9
Rocky Mountaineer to Vancouver
Vancouver, British Columbia
B,L
Blue Horizon Hotel

Activity note: Lengthy train travel day, Kamloops to Vancouver. Pack everything you need including medications in a small bag (not to exceed 9" x 36" x 18" / 23 x 92 x 46 cms) to be stowed under your seat. Other luggage will be transferred to Vancouver hotel.

Breakfast: We'll enjoy breakfast on the train

Morning: We’ll board the Rocky Mountaineer train, Silver Leaf Service, bound for Vancouver. The route will continue to follow the Thompson River and travel through the Fraser Canyon. Marvel at the towering peaks of the Coast Mountains before passing into the fertile farmland of the Fraser Valley. As the surrounding scenery unfolds, so will the interpretive commentary about the changing landscape and the interplay of geology, glacial history, ecology and human history that has shaped this diverse and beautiful land.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch on the train

Afternoon: Continuing our journey, hear about the history and development of the Canadian Pacific Railway, including the travails of building the line through the Rocky Mountains. Carved out of solid rock, it was called the “Iron Road." The railway actually crossed all of Canada and was finished in 1885. We expect to arrive in Vancouver at approximately 7:00 p.m. and transfer to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like in Vancouver.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to go out and see something of the area on your own or relax at the hotel.

DAY
10
Vancouver History, Granville Island, Museum of Vancouver
Vancouver, British Columbia
B,L,D
Blue Horizon Hotel

Activity note: Getting on and off a motorcoach. Walking up to 1 mile.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Rising out of lush coastal rainforest set against snow-capped mountains, Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the best places in the world to live. This unique place of natural beauty and cultural diversity is also on the leading edge of public policy and planning, and serves as an example of sustainable development. A local historian will present a slide show and discuss the city’s history and evolution into a modern, progressive city. We will then transfer by coach to Granville Island and explore some of the highlights along the way including Stanley Park, downtown, Chinatown, Gastown and False Creek.

Lunch: We'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant on Granville Island

Afternoon: Our afternoon at the Museum of Vancouver will deepen our understanding of the city and its relationship with the First Nations Peoples of the Pacific Northwest, and of the changing approach taken by the museum to the ownership and display of Indigenous belongings. The afternoon begins with a lecture on local Indigenous history and culture, one specially developed for Road Scholar by the museum’s curators. After the lecture, an expert from the educational department will lead us on an examination of some of the museum's exhibitions including The City Before the City. The exhibition uses bone, stone and shell objects from an important ancestral village of the Musqueam First Nation, which lies underneath Vancouver, as catalysts for conversations about the relationship between Indigenous and settler societies in the City of Vancouver. There will be time for independent discovery of the museum and its exhibitions.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to set out and see more of Vancouver on your own or just relax.

DAY
11
Vancouver Walking Field Trip, Free Time, Farewell Dinner
Vancouver, British Columbia
B,D
Blue Horizon Hotel

Activity note: Walking approximately 2 miles; city streets.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: With a local historian, take walking field trip to explore Vancouver's historic landmarks, dramatic new architecture and great parks. On this walk, we will explore the extraordinary evolution of the city's downtown and the Coal Harbour waterfront, and gain insight into one of the most talked about urban transformations in North America.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free Time. You might like to explore Stanley Park and Vancouver's famous seawall or another part of the beautiful city. The Stanley Park Seawall rings the peninsula of Stanley Park for a distance of 5.5 miles (8.85 km). You can walk or bike where you please.

Dinner: We'll enjoy our farewell dinner at a local restaurant

Evening: We’ll have a closing session to review highlights of the program and celebrate a successful conclusion of our adventure together.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
Vancouver, British Columbia
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out is by 12:00 noon.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel at 8:00 a.m. This concludes our program. Independent departures from the hotel in Vancouver.

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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