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 (4.95)
Program No. 3856RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
2,295
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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: Program Registration. 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: We’ll walk to a nearby restaurant for a plated meal with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. Back at the hotel, 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. Unless otherwise specified, transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach which will require going up/down a few steps when getting on/off. 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
Banff Geology, Cave & Basin, Early Explorers
Banff, Alberta
B,L,D
High Country Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; some stairs at historic site (can be avoided). Getting on/off motorcoach.

Breakfast: After walk next door to the restaurant, we’ll have a buffet breakfast featuring a variety of hot and cold options, plus juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: We’ll begin by joining a local expert in a meeting room at the hotel to learn about the fascinating story and geology of the Canadian Rockies. Then, we’ll transfer via motorcoach to explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site with a Parks Canada interpreter. 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, we’ll have plated meals with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll transfer 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.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

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: At a local restaurant, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold options with juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

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 – the latter is so iconic that it appears on Canada’s $20 note. We’ll learn about area geology in trailside discussions with our expert naturalist.

Lunch: At Lake Louise in a scenic spot, we’ll have boxed lunches with a sandwich, drink and dessert.

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, 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. 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. We will also 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 a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

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: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers a variety of hot and cold options, plus juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: We will transfer by motorcoach to meet with a wildlife expert biologist and conservationist at the base of the gondola 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. Next, we will 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 a restaurant in Lake Louise, we’ll enjoy afternoon tea with assorted pastries and traditional finger sandwiches.

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, we’ll have plated meals with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

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

Activity note: There are stairs leading up to the entrance of the Columbia Icefields Interpretive Centre but there is a higher parking lot where we can drop off with a ramp for easier access. 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: Hotel buffet.

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. We’ll 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.

Lunch: At a scenic spot along the Parkway, we will have boxed lunches with sandwich, fruit, and drink.

Afternoon: 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, we’ll have plated meals with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

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

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: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold options, plus juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

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. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

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: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Once 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, we’ll 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 with starter, entrée, and dessert choices, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

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
Banff Springs, Bow Falls, Free Time, Farewell Dinner
Banff, Alberta
B,D
High Country Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles during the field trip; approx. 2.5 hours; mostly on paved trails and streets. Minimal driving with some short transfers within the town of Banff.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: 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.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a farewell dinner of plated meals with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

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: Hotel buffet.

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!