3856
Alberta
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
Length
9 days
Starts at
2,499
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9 days
8 nights
20 meals
8 B 6 L 6 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Banff, Alberta
D
High Country Inn

Activity note: Transfer to the hotel from Calgary Airport at 3:00 p.m. included in program cost. Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Arrive to Calgary and transfer with the group to the hotel in Banff. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in and the front desk will be happy to help you.

Dinner: We’ll walk to a nearby restaurant for our welcome dinner.

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
Banff Geology, Cave & Basin, Bow River
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
High Country Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles throughout the day; some stairs at historic site (can be avoided). Getting on/off motorcoach.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast.

Morning: A presentation at Cave and Basin will focus on the fascinating story and geology of the Canadian Rockies. Then we will explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site with our local 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 national park (and the world's third). 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 your binoculars!

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Setting out by motorcoach and on foot, we’ll discover the history of the town of Banff with our Group Leader. Located within Canada's First National Park, Banff lies in a mountain-rimmed valley carved by the Bow River. Its development has always been determined by the federal government, tourism and the railway. In 1930, the Rocky Mountain Parks Reserve was renamed Banff National Park, Canada's first nature reserve, to encompass 2,564 square miles of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers. While on our exploration, we’ll see the famous Banff Springs Hotel and, beneath this famous Banff landmark, the gushing Bow Falls. The spectacular falls are fed by the Bow Glacier upstream and, in turn, they feed the Bow River. An easy stroll along the Bow Falls Trail will get us up close to the rapids and roaring water falls with our Group Leader.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

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

DAY
3
Yoho National Park, Moraine Lake, Emerald Lake
Lake Louise, AB
B,L,D
Lake Louise Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles; approximately 2 hours over the course of the day; easy, flat lakeside trail with no elevation gain. Stops along the way for interpretation. Driving approximately 60 miles; about 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast.

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: We’ll have boxed lunches at a scenic spot.

Afternoon: We’ll then continue by motorcoach to Emerald Lake with a stop at the Spiral Tunnels where we will see the trains go through the feat of engineering that was safer than the previously used switchbacks. At 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. Visit the nearby Field Visitor Centre where there are some exhibits to explore, including one that displays and explains some fossils from Burgess Shale. Parks Canada staff will be available to provide information and answer questions. We’ll then return to Lake Louise.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to go with the Group Leader to continue exploring local sites, head off on your own, or just relax at the hotel.

DAY
4
Grizzly Bears & Glaciers, Victoria Glacier, Lake Louise
Lake Louise, AB
B,L,D
Lake Louise Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile during field trips. Getting on/off a gondola. Getting on/off the motorcoach.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast.

Morning: Meet with a wildlife expert biologist and conservationist at the hotel who will give a presentation on how to share the land with grizzly bears. 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 mountain national parks make a weighty contribution to grizzly bear conservation in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem. These parks can contribute refuge in the greater landscape but this requires special considerations for how humans share the landscape with bears. During the presentation, we will also hear how Parks Canada is conducting land use and management policies. We will transfer by motorcoach to board the Lake Louise Gondola – one of the best places for a chance to see grizzly bears in their natural environment. If we’re lucky, we may experience this rare and awesome spectacle of nature from the comfort of an enclosed gondola. From atop a mountain, we’ll enjoy views of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake surrounded by peaks and a deep teal color – nothing less than stunning as it sits in the gorgeous Valley of the Ten Peaks.

Lunch: At Chateau Lake Louise, we’ll enjoy afternoon tea with assorted pastries and traditional finger sandwiches. Free time to explore the hotel and grounds.

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. You may wish to explore the grounds of the chateau or, for those seeking a moderate hike, consider the 2.8 miles (4.5 km) Lake Louise Loop.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Glacier, Ice Explorer, Jasper
Jasper, AB
B,L,D
The Crimson Jasper

Activity note: There are stairs leading up to the entrance of the Columbia Icefields Interpretive Centre. The remainder of the field trip will be by motorcoach. Driving about 150 miles throughout the day; approximately 4 hours total. The Ice Explorer ride on Athabasca Glacier is approx. 3 miles roundtrip; about 1.5 hours total.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast.

Morning: We’ll start the day traveling along the famed and scenic Icefields Parkway, one of the most impressive stretches of scenic driving in Canada, linking Lake Louise to Jasper. The highway follows a lake-lined valley between 2 chains of the Eastern Main Ranges, which make up the Continental Divide. The mountains here are the highest, craggiest and maybe the most scenic in all of the Rockies. En route we’ll learn more from our Group Leader about the geological history and glaciology of the Athabasca Glacier, and about the ever-changing landscape. At several points along the way we’ll stop to enjoy some scenic overlooks.

Lunch: At a scenic spot along the Parkway, we will stop for a box lunch.

Afternoon: Spend some time at the Columbia Icefields Interpretive Centre before boarding for travel in a specially designed Ice Explorer to the middle of the Athabasca Glacier on a 3 mile (5 km) roundtrip journey. Our driver will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features as we travel in safety and comfort. At the mid-point, we will be given the choice to step out onto ice formed from snow fallen as long as 200 years ago.We will then return from our drive on the glacier and switch vehicles back to our motorcoach to continue our journey to Jasper National Park. This scenic drive is lined with beautiful mountains, lakes and more than 100 glaciers providing a dramatic backdrop. Keep an eye out for mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the cliffs along the way. In the spruce forest above the Sunwapta River, watch for grizzly bears during spring, summer and fall. Upon arrival, we’ll check into the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: An evening presentation at the hotel given by a local expert will examine Jasper from a historical perspective giving us the opportunity to learn about some of the early settlers and the First Nations.

DAY
6
Maligne Canyon, Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park
Jasper, AB
B,L
The Crimson Jasper

Activity note: Field trips include up to 2 walks, no more than 1 mile (1.6 km) each in length on paved or maintained trails.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast.

Morning: Our local expert naturalist will meet us at the hotel and accompany us in our explorations of Jasper National Park, Maligne Canyon and Pyramid Lake by motorcoach. We’ll make a stop for a walk along the Maligne Canyon Trail, which is rich in natural history, impressive geologic features and wildlife. On our walk, we’ll search for fossils and find out how this deep canyon formed during glacial ages. The forests of these wilderness areas are home to mountain goats, elk, moose, and bears as well as a variety of birds, including bald eagles. These scenic trails will allow us to explore the spectacular vantage points, flower meadows, and sapphire blue mountain lakes.

Lunch: At a scenic spot along our journey, we’ll stop for boxed lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our expert-led exploration in Jasper National Park by motorcoach, making some stops for expert interpretation. 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, which live among its grand peaks and emerald-green lakes. The combination of these startling blue-green mountain lakes, soaring peaks and broad, forested valleys makes this one of the world's premiere national parks.

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
7
Palisades Stewardship Education Centre, Return to Banff
Banff, Alberta
B,L
High Country Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile; approximately 2 hours; paved and/or maintained trails. Driving approx. 190 miles; about 4 hours.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast.

Morning: Transfer by coach to explore a homestead of an early pioneer family, Palisades Stewardship Education Centre is an historic ranch operated by Parks Canada as one of Canada’s premier outdoor education facilities. Located in the spectacular Athabasca Valley, the Stewardship Palisades Education Centre’s innovative programming is designed to stimulate a new kind of relationship with nature and to embrace the values of protected areas. During a field trip to the Centre, learn from a Parks Canada expert about the role of the National Parks in fostering conservation ethics.

Lunch: At the Education Centre, we’ll have a cafeteria-style meal.

Afternoon: We’ll then board the motorcoach for transfer back to Banff where we will check into the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: On your own to explore local fare or join the Group Leader at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to head off on your own to explore Banff, remain with the Group Leader or relax at the hotel.

DAY
8
Whyte Museum, Free Time, Farewell Dinner
Banff, Alberta
B,D
High Country Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile during the field trip; approx. 1.5 hours; mostly on paved trails and streets.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast.

Morning: Transfer by coach to explore the Whyte Museum, one of Banff's most culturally significant museums, and learn from a docent about the remarkable history of some of the locals and their cultural past. The museum features an art gallery and a vast collection of photographs telling the history of early explorers, artists and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Then take a walk back in time and get to know the colorful individuals who built the town of Banff. This guided exploration meanders through history to take you to the riverside site where Tom Wilson established one of the first outfitting operations in the area, St. Georges-in-the-Pines Anglican Church with its unique stained glass windows, and the Luxton Home and Garden. These and many other intriguing stops reveal the fascinating history of this town.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a farewell dinner.

Evening: We’ll have a wrap-up session at the restaurant after dinner. Share your favorite experiences of the program with new Road Scholar friends. We’ll then return to the hotel. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
9
Airport Transfers, Program Concludes
Banff, Alberta
B

Activity note: Group transfer to Calgary International Airport (YYC) departs at 8:30 a.m.; expected arrival by approximately 10:30 a.m. Official hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. Make sure you have enough time upon arrival at airport to comfortably make your flight.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at 7:00 a.m.

Morning: We’ll then check out of the hotel and transfer to Calgary International Airport (YYC). This concludes our program. 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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