Exploring Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

Explore the Canadian Rockies with local experts, learning about grizzly bears, visiting Chateau Lake Louise and taking an in depth look at UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Rating (5)
Program No. 3856RJ
9 days
Starts at
Flights start at

At a Glance

Straddling the Continental Divide for 14,300 square miles, the seven contiguous Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are richly adorned with mountain peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, limestone caves and fossils. Explore in depth three of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites to see how they each bear distinct ecological, geological and historical characters while sharing a common rugged beauty renowned worldwide.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Keep the Pace: Walking up to two miles daily on varied terrain. Elevations up to 4,540 feet. On Your Feet: Walking up to 1.5 miles daily on mostly flat terrain.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Explore Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Parks with experts and learn about their rich geological history.
  • Experience a bird’s eye view of the Continental Divide atop the Lake Louise Gondola.
  • Travel aboard a specially designed ice explorer to the middle of the breathtaking Athabasca Glacier.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Kirsten Schmitten
Kirsten Schmitten has spent over 30 years exploring, researching, writing and working in the Canadian Rockies. From her career as a park naturalist to her adventures with her warden husband, Kirsten’s love and knowledge of the natural and cultural history of Jasper makes her a captivating and sought after speaker. She is the owner of All Things Wild, a company specializing in connecting people to the natural and cultural history of Jasper National Park.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Greg Allemang
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Kirsten Schmitten
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Hugh Southee
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Tracey Gage
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Trade
by Fred Stenson
1822. The Hudson’s Bay Company, swollen by a merger with its bitter rival, the North West Company, is about to exercise its uncontested monopoly over the lands drained by Hudson Bay. The first step is to find a new source of beaver pelts and profits, and the only hope lies in the unmapped territory held by the Blackfoot-speaking Indian tribes: the Piegan, Siksika and Blood. With little information, the new governor of the territory mounts an expedition into the heart of this unknown land, a journey that will test the mettle of a new generation of Hudson’s Bay Company men. For John Rowand, who goes by the nickname “One Pound One,” the expedition is also a test of patience, a time to wonder bitterly why he has not been chosen to lead the way. For Rowand’s young friend Ted Harriott, a lowly clerk madly in love with his Metis cousin, it is a chance to demonstrate by some act of bravery that her father should allow them to marry. Harriot’s journey on foot to the Missouri in winter begins in danger and ends in the iron grip of cold and starvation. At the far end of the trail, he meets Jimmy Jock Bird, who has gone to make his life among the Piegan and who will become a middleman of increasing power among those who would rule the West. This brilliant novel, written between the lines of official history, tells an incredible story of those who were ruled by the often brutalizing fur trade. It is a story of love and economics, and of the nexus between the two. It is a story of how European culture, including religion, tried to root itself in this anarchic place and often failed. In the end, it is the story of how the mighty fur trade was rolled under by the greater forces of change and history.
A Traveller's History of Canada
by Robert Bothwell
A readable and admirably concise march through Canadian history from prehistory to today, including a timeline.
Northern Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, Including Glacier, Waterton Lakes, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke, and Yoho
by Wayne Phillips
Compiled by a former forest service ecologist and botany teacher at Yellowstone Institute, this handy guide features 300 species, expertly photographed, explained and organized by color and family for quick identification.
Switchbacks, True Stories from the Canadian Rockies
by Sid Marty
A native Albertan and park warden in the Canadian Rockies, Marty relates colorful anecdotes from friends, colleagues and his own youth in this collection of tales, which includes A Horse Named Candy.
Mountain Home, Tales of Seeking a Family Life in Harmony with Nature
by Adolf Hungry Wolf
PAPER, 168 PAGES, $14.95 Getting back to the land isn’t easy, as Mr. Hungry Wolf will testify, after 25 years of raising his family in the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. He shares tales of natural foods, wild animals, home schooling his four children, and living without running water, phone, TV or electricity. (Item no. CND31)
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
by Jon Dunn
This guide is the veteran's choice for birding anywhere in the United States. Practical to use in the field, it has maps, illustrations and descriptions of the birds on facing pages.
Rocky Mountain Natural History, Grand Teton to Jasper, A Trailside Reference
by Daniel Mathews
A comprehensive field guide and handbook covering the plants, animals, insects, geology and history of the region. With 480 color photographs and 11 line drawings.
Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains
by James Halfpenny, Todd Telander (Illustrator)
An essential pocket guide to tracks, scats and signs of not just the mammals of the region, but also of the reptiles, amphibians and birds. Each of 70 species gets a double-page spread, with line drawings of the animal, scat and track, range map and description.
The Amazing Death of Calf Shirt and Other Blackfoot Stories, Three Hundred Years of Blackfoot History
by Hugh A. Dempsey
A wonderful collection of stories, illuminating the history of the Blackfoot people of the prairies of southern Alberta and northern Montana.
Moon Handbook Canadian Rockies
by Andrew Hempstead
This comprehensive and authoritative guide by Banff-based Hempstead covers where to go and what to do from Jasper to Waterton.
This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada
by Colleen Skidmore
In 1912, Mary Vaux, a botanist, glaciologist, painter, and photographer, wrote about her mountain adventures: “A day on the trail, or a scramble over the glacier, or even with a quiet day in camp to get things in order for the morrow's conquests? Some how when once this wild spirit enters the blood…I can hardly wait to be off again." Vaux's compulsion was shared by many women whose intellects, imaginations, and spirits rose to the challenge of the mountains between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. This Wild Spirit explores a sampling of women's creative responses—in fiction and travel writing, photographs and paintings, embroidery and beadwork, letters and diaries, poetry and posters—to their experiences in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.
After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America
by E.C. Pielou
Eighteen thousand years ago, an immense sheet of ice covered all of present day Canada and northernmost U.S. This story tells of how a harsh terrain was transformed into the environment we know today.
Selected Stories
by Alice Munro
This collection of 28 short stories represents some of Munro's finest work. A powerful range of emotional, evocative tales set throughout the cities and rural towns of her native country.
Lonely Planet Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks
by Lonely Planet Publications
This informative, compact guidebook in the excellent Lonely Planet series includes details on the history, geology and wildlife of the region.
Handbook of the Canadian Rockies
by Ben Gadd
Geology, plants, animals, history and recreation from Waterton/Glacier to the Yukon.
The Great Rocky Mountain Nature Factbook
by Susan Ewing
Ewing's family-friendly guide, with black-and-white drawings throughout, answers the curiosity of engaged visitors about the plants, animals and natural features of the Rockies.
The Outlander
by Gil Adamson
"It was night, and the dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling." Mary Boulton, 19, is newly widowed, a result of having murdered her husband. The men with the dogs are her twin brothers-in-law, gunslingers bent on avenging their dead sibling. It is 1903, and the only place for Mary to run is west, into the wilderness. She is pursued not only by the vengeful twins but also by visions. Mary was raised in a genteel household but married a brute; now, having divested herself of her husband, she is not altogether sane. From an early benefactress she steals a horse, and together they navigate a gothic, ghostly mountain pass, unlikely to improve Mary's mental state. Desperate, freezing, and alone, Mary is now an outlander, as are most of the characters she encounters. The bird lady, the Ridgerunner, Bonny, the dwarf, and the cat-skinner are all earthbound beings inhabiting unsettled lives.

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