Canadian Rockies Explorer
Experience North America’s great unspoiled wildernesses. Journey from majestic Glacier National Park to the mountain town of Whitefish, Montana, and world-famous Banff National Park. Visit Lake Louise and Athabasca Glacier, one of the largest icefields in the Rocky Mountains. See Jasper National Park’s Maligne Canyon and cruise cerulean Maligne Lake. Take in spectacular views on an expedition to Glacier Skywalk. Ride the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain’s 8,000-foot peak. Stay in unique mountain lodges.
We depart the United States today for our flight to Calgary. Upon arrival, we check in to our centrally located hotel then have time to explore this cosmopolitan Canadian city on our own. Tonight we gather for a briefing on the journey ahead followed by dinner at our hotel. Hyatt Regency Hotel (D)
We leave Calgary by coach this morning for the scenic drive to Glacier National Park in northern Montana. For lunch we stop at the famed Prince of Wales Hotel along the shores of Upper Waterton Lake, the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies and where the prairie meets the mountains. After time to take in the splendid lake views here, we cross the 49th parallel and enter the United States. We arrive at our lodge late this afternoon and enjoy dinner there together tonight. St. Mary Lodge (B,L,D)
Today we get our first look at Glacier National Park, a 1,583-square-mile swath of wilderness in Montana’s Rocky Mountains encompassing rugged mountains, thunderous waterfalls, still lakes, and glacial valleys stretching to the Canadian border. We begin with a morning hike along St. Mary Lake, the park’s second largest and the clear divide between the Great Plains to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west. Movie buffs may recognize the lake from the iconic opening shot of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Then we embark on a cruise for panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings. This afternoon is at leisure amidst the majesty of America’s 10th national park before dinner together at our lodge. St. Mary Lodge (B,D)
We enjoy a travel highlight today as we step back in time and board one of Glacier National Park’s legendary sightseeing buses: the Red Jammers, in use here since the 1930s. With roll-back canvas convertible tops, these buses take their name from the sound of the early drivers jamming the manual transmission into low gear to negotiate steep roads. Our ride this morning takes us along the fabled Going-to-the-Sun Road, a winding mountain pass that offers breathtaking views. After time for lunch on our own we meet up with our motorcoach and continue southwest across the Continental Divide. After arriving late this afternoon in the resort town of Whitefish, Montana, we dine together tonight. The Firebrand Hotel (B,D)
We head into the forest this morning for a leisurely three-mile hike along the Whitefish Trail, starting at Lion Mountain Trailhead. A network of more than 36 miles of paths through forests, prime wildlife habitats, and pristine lakes, the trail is an outdoor lover’s dream. Our trek ends at a lookout over postcard-worthy Skyles Lake. Then we continue on to the popular ski area of Whitefish Mountain Resort, where we board chairlifts bound for the mountain’s summit. After taking time to enjoy the 360-degree views and crisp summit air, we visit the Summit Nature Center to learn more about the mountain and its local environment. We return to our hotel in time for lunch on our own and an afternoon and evening at leisure. An authentic mountain town, Whitefish boasts an abundance of restaurants and activities. The Firebrand Hotel (B)
Today’s full day of travel presents some of the most striking scenery of our tour. We begin the day passing through forests, by lakes, and across high plains before crossing from the U.S. back into Canada – this time, into British Columbia. After a stop for lunch and a drive along the western edge of the Canadian Rockies, we enter world-famous Banff National Park and ascend to Lake Louise, and our hotel, late this afternoon. Before dinner here, we take an easy hike for our first view of the photogenic lake, originally named Emerald Lake for its brilliant hue. Deer Lodge (B,L,D)
This morning we visit the viewing area to see the lake in the early morning light. Then we depart via the Columbia Icefields Parkway for the drive to the 125-square-mile Columbia Icefields in Banff National Park, a UNESCO site. Here we bundle up for a tour highlight as we board the Ice Explorer all-terrain vehicle for the ride to Athabasca Glacier, the most visited glacier in North America. Equipped to drive right onto the glacier itself, the massive Ice Explorer boasts super-sized tires specially designed for glacier travel. Upon reaching Athabasca, we disembark to explore, take photos, and fill our water bottles with the pure water from the glacier. Then we descend to the base station for lunch before we begin our drive northward again, arriving at our hotel centrally located in the town of Jasper, which is within Jasper National Park (also a UNESCO site). We enjoy dinner together at our hotel. Whistlers Inn (B,L,D)
The scenery on display today is nothing short of breathtaking. First we view Maligne Canyon, a geological marvel where the limestone bedrock has been eroded by an underground river to a depth of 160 feet. Only six feet wide at some points, the plunging canyon offers a dramatic (and heady) view from the top. We continue on to cerulean Maligne Lake, the largest glacially formed lake in the Canadian Rockies. Here we board our boat for a morning cruise, taking in the sky-scraping mountain peaks, dark green forests, and three glaciers all visible from the lake. We cruise by Spirit Island, a tiny yet acclaimed islet of a few trees which makes for a wonderful – and uniquely Canadian – photo opportunity. Early this afternoon we return to Jasper, where we have the rest of the day at leisure. Whistlers Inn (B)
We return today to the Columbia Icefields Parkway for more scenic views, and a thrilling expedition. This dramatic road parallels the Continental Divide, running down the spine of both Jasper and Banff national parks. Mid-day we enjoy an exhilarating experience as we tiptoe across the Glacier Skywalk, a cliff-edge walkway that leads to a transparent-bottomed observation deck suspended nearly 1,000 feet above the valley floor. Here the vast glaciers, snowcapped mountain peaks, and thundering waterfalls seem close enough to touch. We enjoy a picnic lunch amidst this jaw-dropping scenery then continue on to our hotel in lower Banff National Park. Rimrock Resort (B,L,D)
Our last full day in the Canadian Rockies begins with a ride aboard the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, so named for the hot springs on its lower flank. This 8,000-foot peak overlooking the town of Banff affords stunning mountain views in every direction; indeed, we can see six mountain ranges during this excursion. Then we travel Tunnel Mountain Road to visit two more natural wonders: the Hoodoos, a collection of eroded limestone spires strung along a wooded hillside; and Bow Falls, a wide waterfall just outside Banff. The afternoon is free to explore Banff before we celebrate our outdoor adventures with a farewell dinner at our hotel. Rimrock Resort (B,D)
We transfer this morning to the Calgary airport for our flights home. (B)
Cost and Details
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland: $4,991
Chicago, Denver: $5,191
Please call if your city is not listed. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $96, which are subject to change until final payment is made. All tour prices above (excluding airline taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.
Land Only: $4,395 (transfers not included)
Single Room Supplement: $1,295
Round-trip air transportation from listed cities; 10 nights’ accommodations in Deluxe, First Class, and unrated hotels; 22 meals: 10 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 8 dinners; Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees; Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director; Educational lecture program/study leader with a minimum of 15 guests; Additional Commonwealth Club representative at 20 guests; Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip; Luggage handling for one bag per person; Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
Airfare when purchasing a Land Only package; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, and meals not specified; airport transfers when purchasing a Land Only package; gratuities to your Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. Tour Director, which are at your discretion (suggested gratuities: $10-$15 per traveler, per day); communication charges; optional sightseeing; and travel protection insurance.
This is an active trip. There will be opportunities to hike on this trip, and these walks range from 1–3 miles (with options to hike more on your own). You do not need to participate in all the hikes; however, the trip involves considerable walking on uneven terrain in a natural environment. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest. Elevations at hotel locations are not severe, ranging from 3,400 ft. to 5,200 ft. The relatively high altitude reached on two excursions–Columbia Icefields (9,800 ft.) and Going-to-the-Sun Road (6,700 ft.)– could pose problems for guests with certain health conditions. You should consult your personal physician if you have concerns.
Terms and Conditions
Cancellations, Refunds and Changes
If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your written notification. Refunds for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges:
Cancel 95 days or more before departure: $200 charge
Cancel 94-65 days before departure: 50% of tour price
Cancel 64-30 days before departure: 75% of tour price
Cancel 29-0 days before departure: No refund.
If a guest makes any changes to their reservation within 94 and 30 days prior to departure, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. will apply a $100 per person administrative fee, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by third parties. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason, you will be charged the single supplement. No changes are allowed within 30 days of departure. Upon reservation you must provide your full legal name as it appears on your passport as well as your date of birth and gender. In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.
We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a worldwide membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit our membership page or call (415)597-6720.
We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance, which is available for coverage of expenses in conjunction with cancellation due to illness or accident. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event you must cancel your participation in the travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Information will be sent upon registration and can be viewed Travel Insurance Services website.
The liability of the Commonwealth Club, as sponsor, and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc., as tour operator, is strictly limited. Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. purchases transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The Commonwealth Club and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts and tickets issued are subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, cruise line and other independent suppliers. We will make every effort to operate our tours as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will select alternative accommodations of the same or better quality.
Health and Medical Issues
We request that you be in good health to participate in an Odysseys Unlimited tour. There is a reasonable amount of walking, and you must be able to get on and off motorcoaches on your own. We regret that we cannot offer individual assistance; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you. Please note that our itineraries cannot accommodate wheelchairs. We reserve the right to remove anyone whose physical or mental condition, in our opinion, compromises the operation of the tour or detracts from the enjoyment or safety of the other passengers. In that event, Odysseys Unlimited and the Commonwealth Club assume no financial responsibility for any unused portion of the tour.
Air Transportation - Important Information
Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. includes in its tour price round-trip economy air from designated gateway cities as shown and contracts with those airlines the company feels provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates. You will receive your preliminary air schedule approximately 2½ months prior to departure. Please note that seat assignments on your international flight are usually done at airport check-in. Odysseys Unlimited is unable to guarantee any seat assignments. Due to the nature of tour operator tickets, other restrictions apply, including, but not limited to, frequent flyer mileage accrual, stopovers, alternate travel dates, upgrades, and airline taxes and fees. If you prefer to make your own travel arrangements, Land Only is available on most tours. Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase non-refundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes. If you choose to make your own flight arrangements for an alumni tour and not use those provided by the tour company, we recommend that you do not do so until making your final payment to the tour company confirming details of your trip’s scheduled departure. However, if you choose to make your own flight arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes to tour dates.
Commonwealth Club of California-CST# 2096889-40