AVA Convention & the Canadian Rockies

June 6-15, 2017 • 10 Days • $2950

Join walkers from around the USA in 2017 to celebrate walking and volkssport at the 20th Biennial Convention of the American Volkssport Association in Billings, MT.

Crazy Horse Pre-tour

June 3-6, 2017 • 4 Days • $825

Want more walks? An optional pre-tour takes in the Crazy Horse Memorial biannual walk in South Dakota, then heads to the Pre-Convention events in Wyoming and Montana. Activities include visits to the Crazy Horse Memorial, Mt Rushmore National Memorial and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument on our way to the AVA Convention in Billings, Montana.

WATCH A BRIEF VIDEO

WAI Guide Dan Friesen presents the AVA Convention & Canadian Rockies 2017 at one of our Tour Presentations.

To enlarge, click symbol in right corner.

View Daily Itinerary

This travel program is designed specifically with avid volkswalkers in mind. We start in Billings, Montana and finish in Calgary, Alberta, with 7 walks in the US and Canada, providing a fun, fast-paced exploration of Montana and Alberta, Canada. We hope you can join us!

Crazy Horse Pre-tour

What’s Included:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class (3-star) or better hotel accommodations
  • 3 meals: all breakfasts as listed in itinerary (B)
  • 3 walks as listed in itinerary
  • Fees for walking credit
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Cultural and historical expertise of local guides
  • Tips for local guides/coach drivers
  • A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $200

Activities/Visits to:

  • Crazy Horse Memorial – SD
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial – SD
  • Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument – MT

Optional Excursions:

  • Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum – Buffalo, Wyoming (Day 3)

AVA Convention & Canadian Rockies

What’s Included:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class (3-star) or better hotel accommodations
  • 12 meals: All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • 7 walks – most sanctioned by the AVA and CVF
  • Fees for walking credit
  • Transportation to all Convention walks and activities
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Cultural and historical expertise of local guides
  • Tips for local guides/coach drivers
  • A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $575

Activities/Visits to:

  • Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park – MT
  • Guided visit to Missouri Headwaters State Park – MT
  • Glacier National Park – MT
  • Red Bus excursion in Glacier National Park – MT
  • Guided hike in Glacier National Park – MT
  • Waterton Lakes National Park – Alberta, CANADA
  • Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (UNESCO site) – Alberta, CANADA
  • More fun and educational stops than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • AVA Convention Meet & Greet – Billings, MT (Day 2)
  • AVA Convention Lunch Event – Billings, MT (Day 3)
  • Waterton Lakes cruise – Alberta, CANADA (Day 7)
  • Gondola Ride – Alberta, CANADA (DAY 9)
  • Sunshine Meadows Walk – Alberta, CANADA (DAY 9) This excursion is weather dependent.

Because travelers will have different objectives and participation levels during Convention, registration for the Convention Walks is NOT included in the Adventure price. We will contact you with the Convention registration booklet when it is available early in 2017. Choices will be necessary in the following areas: walk credit, walk awards, social activities/dinners, workshops and lunches.

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Superior Tourist Class (3 star) hotels or better

Meals

All breakfasts included, along with 1 lunch and 2 dinners on main tour as denoted (BLD).

Airfare

Not included. Travelers will be met at starting hotel.

Transportation

Full-size motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 45+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

WAI Guides Roger & Jana Dorway on AVA Convention & the Canadian Rockies Walking Tour

Roger and Jana Dorway have always appreciated the experiential, paradigm-expanding value of travel, and have been privileged to explore destinations on 4 continents. Since retirement, they’ve increased their commitment to discovering the world, fostering a growing desire to share cultural and historical insights as part of the WAI guide team.

Itinerary

Crazy Horse Pre-tour

DAY 1-Jun 3: Arrive Rapid City, SD

You arrive today into Rapid City Regional Airport, where you can take a shuttle for under $10 to our hotel in Rapid City. Because travelers arrive throughout the day, our first group activity is breakfast tomorrow morning, followed by a drive to the signature event of the pre-tour – the Crazy Horse Memorial Walk.

Travelers who arrive early may consider participation in a couple of Rapid City walks hosted by the Black Hills Volkssport Association. A taxi ride of 2 to 3 miles will be necessary to reach the start point of these walks.

DAY 2-Jun 4: Activities from Rapid City (B)

Crazy Horse Memorial Walk, SD – 10 km, rated 3C

The Ziolkowski family has been sculpting this mountain of granite since Korczak Ziolkowski accepted Chief Standing Bear’s invitation to immortalize Chief Crazy Horse in 1948, and the work is likely to continue into this family’s fourth and fifth generations. The memorial worksite is open to the public for this walk only twice each year. There’s nothing like the thrill of standing on the granite arm of Chief Crazy Horse looking up at the far away gaze of his 87 foot tall face! Nearby Mount Rushmore was the inspiration for Crazy Horse Memorial. We stop here as well to pay homage to four of America’s great presidents—Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.

DAY 3-Jun 5: Rapid City—Buffalo, WY (B)

Pre-Convention Walk: Clear Creek, Buffalo, WY – Distance, Rating TBA

We leave Rapid City this morning for our first Pre-Convention activity in Buffalo, Wyoming. Our walk in Clear Creek is a beautiful nature trail. Travelers who visited this Wild West community with us on past Adventures have enjoyed time spent at the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum. Buffalo was at the center of dramatic events in the late 19th century involving violent disputes between sheepherders and cattle rangers. Known to posterity as the Johnson County War, these events, and many others related to the settling of Wyoming, are well documented in the museum.

DAY 4-Jun 6: Buffalo—Billings, MT (B)

Pre-Convention Walk: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, MT – Distance, Rating TBA

We travel to Montana today, stopping at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument for our second Pre-Convention Walk. In addition to our walk, we’ll visit the visitor’s center/enjoy a presentation and guided tour by a park ranger covering some of the history of Custer’s Last Stand against combined forces of the Sioux and Cheyenne nations. We meet up with travelers joining us for the main tour only this evening. Dinner is on your own this evening, and we’ll meet back for a welcome orientation at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center, our base for the events of the 20th AVA Convention.

AVA Convention & Canadian Rockies

DAY 1-Jun 6: Arrive Billings, MT

You arrive today at the Billings Logan International Airport, a 20-minute taxi ride from the Billings Hotel and Convention Center, our base for the events of the 20th AVA Convention. Travelers will be arriving throughout the day and our first group activity is a welcome reception this evening after you’ve had dinner on your own.

DAY 2-Jun 7: AVA Convention ~ Activities in Billings (B)

AVA Convention Walk: Yellowstone River, MT – Distance & Rating TBA

Three types of events – Walks, Swims, Bikes – are available at the AVA Convention. More details will be given when details are available from the Convention Committee.

Today is the first official day of the AVA Convention. The Yellowstone River walk starts and finishes at our hotel. This will be a morning event. The afternoon is free, and as we learn more details of the convention schedule, WAI may offer optional activities in the area. This evening’s Meet & Greet offers the chance to visit with walkers from all over the US and Canada.

DAY 3-Jun 8: AVA Convention ~ Activities from Billings (B)

AVA Convention Walk: Billings Brewery Tour, MT – Distance & Rating TBA

Convention activities today include a bike event and swim event, along with a selection of morning workshops, lunch, and a General Session throughout the afternoon. As more details of the Convention schedule become available, WAI may offer an optional activity today. The evening event is the President’s Walk Brewery Tour, a self-guided walk past the six breweries and two distilleries of downtown Billings.

DAY 4-Jun 9: AVA Convention ~ Billings—Helena, MT (B)

AVA Convention Walk: Swords Rimrock Park Trail, MT – Distance & Rating TBA

Today’s final Convention walk follows a path high over Billings along a series of limestone bluffs. Following the walk, we depart for Three Forks at the Missouri Headwaters State Park with a stop, en route, at Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park. Later, after a briefing by our park ranger at Three Forks, we enjoy a short climb to the top of Fort Rock, the only place in the park where you can see all three rivers, the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson. Leaving the park, we cross over the bridge on the Gallatin River, near the meeting point of the confluence of the Gallatin and Missouri. We arrive in Helena this evening, in preparation for tomorrow’s capitol walk.

NOTE: In order to provide more time for the Red Bus Tour in Glacier National Park, we leave Billings after this morning’s walk and forego the final dinner at the AVA Convention.

DAY 5-Jun 10: Helena—East Glacier Park, MT (BD)

Helena State Capitol Walk, MT – 10 km, rated 1A

Today’s excellent capital city walk features impressive Victorian-era mansions built with mineral wealth; Last Chance Gulch, site of a 1860’s gold strike; and an attractive state capitol. From Helena, we join the Montana Scenic Loop to Glacier National Park. The Rocky Mountain Front rises dramatically to the west from the Montana plains as we pass through classic Big Sky western towns like Augusta and Choteau. Our route traverses the Blackfeet Indian Reservation en route to our home for tonight in the shadow of what the Blackfeet call the “Backbone of the World”. Dining options are limited in East Glacier (population 363), so we’ve arranged a group meal this evening.

DAY 6-Jun 11: East Glacier Park—Waterton, AB (BL)

Glacier National Park Walk, MT – 10 km, rated 2B

Our first activity today provides an introduction to Glacier National Park. Vintage, 17-passenger red “jammer” buses, first put into service in 1937, are our mode of transport on a portion of the 52-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, which, in good weather, offers some of North America’s most breathtaking alpine scenery. Next, we head north to meet a team of local professional guides (complete with a potent array of “bear spray”). Our guides lead us from Many Glacier Valley on a hike crammed with stunning vistas and opportunities to see bighorn sheep, mountain goat, bear, moose, and any number of other Rocky Mountain critters. We cross the border into Canada late this afternoon and make our way to Waterton, Alberta. The evening is free for you to enjoy dinner during our first night in the Canadian Rockies.

DAY 7-Jun 12: Activities in Waterton (B)

Waterton Lakes National Park Walk, Alberta, Canada – 6 km, rated 2B

This morning’s idyllic nature trail explores Waterton Lakes National Park. This afternoon’s free time offers you a chance to reset, or continue the adventure. Possible activities include a tour offered by the iconic Waterton Lakes Lodge Resort, or a cruise on Waterton Lakes back across the border into the United States, featuring the oldest operating boat in Canada.

DAY 8-Jun 13: Waterton—Banff, AB (B)

We head to Banff today with a stop along the way at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump – 3 guesses as to what this landform was previously used for. Placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1981, the site preserves the heritage of the Plains People and their use of regional topography to hunt bison. We browse the visitor centre here and take a guided tour of the site. The afternoon drive continues north to picturesque Banff, for the final two nights of the Adventure.

DAY 9-Jun 14: Activities in Banff (BD)

Lake Louise Walk, Alberta, Canada – 5 km, rated 1A
Optional Sunshine Meadows Walk, Alberta, Canada – 7 km, rated 2B

Our last walk brings us to the idyllic shores of Lake Louise where we walk along the shoreline of this shimmering blue mountain gem, soaking up picture-postcard views of Victoria Glacier and iconic Chateau Lake Louise. You have a few options for the afternoon back in Banff. Banff offers a year round event that can be walked from our hotel. A gondola ride to one of the surrounding peaks has been popular with past travelers. Weather permitting, consider joining us for a one-of-a-kind optional, high-alpine hike at nearby Sunshine Meadows, rated by Lonely Planet as the #1 Day Hike in Canada. Straddling the Continental Divide on the border of Alberta and British Columbia, these meadows are surrounded by some of the Rockies’ highest peaks and offer pristine trails set at the top of the world (about 7,300 FASL) amongst stands of larches and stunning alpine lakes. And of course, there’s plenty to enjoy in the irresistible shops and galleries of this charming mountain resort. This evening marks our last on tour, and we reminisce together during a Farewell Dinner before heading home tomorrow.

DAY 10-Jun 15: Banff—Calgary, AB—Depart for Home (B)

We depart for home from Calgary, Alberta, having participated in the 20th AVA Convention and experienced unforgettable Rocky Mountain trails in both the US and Canada.

More Details

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

We are now accepting registrations. Call or mail in your registration ($500) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted.

General Tour Conditions and Registration Form

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

First Time Traveler Savings

In appreciation for joining us for your first Walking Adventure, we offer new travelers a $200 credit on domestic tours!

Group Travel Credit

If you are part of a Group, remember that your full registration of $500 is still required to hold your spot on this Adventure. Your group leader is responsible to submit your name in writing to us before you make your $500 registration payment, qualifying you for the Group Travel Credit. Your Group Travel Credit will appear on your final statement.

Check out more information on the Group Travel Program.

AVA Convention Activities

Pre-Convention walks and activities are included in our optional Crazy Horse Pre-tour.

We arrive in Billings, Montana on June 6 and offer participation in all walks and activities until June 8. We then depart for the rest of our tour sightseeing in Montana and the Canadian Rockies further north. To provide more time at Glacier National Park, and focus on the Canadian Rockies, we depart Billings on the afternoon of June 8, and will not be attending the Final Dinner on June 8 or the Post-Convention activities on June 10 and 11.

Registration information for Convention walks and activities was not available at the time of publication. Because of this, and considering that travelers have different objectives and participation levels during Convention, registration for the Convention walks and activities is NOT included in the Adventure price. We will contact you with the Convention registration package when it is available early in 2017. Choices will be necessary in the following areas: walk credit, walk awards, social activities/dinners, workshops and lunches.

We have booked the Billings Hotel and Convention Center as our hotel in Billings. This is the official center of the AVA Convention, which makes participation in all Convention activities convenient. The WAI motorcoach will also be available during Convention to enhance our ability to shuttle WAI travelers to any optional offsite meals or activities we decide to offer after we see the final Convention schedule.

How is airfare arranged?

The start point for travelers joining us for the Crazy Horse Pre-tour is the Rapid City airport in South Dakota. The start point for travelers joining us for the main tour only is the Billings Airport. The finish point is in Calgary, Alberta. More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, mailed to you after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!

What about the walks?

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Most walks on this tour are traditional volkssport walks with distances of approximately 6 miles (10 kilometers). Walks on the schedule after Billings are planned, managed, and led by WAI tour leaders, though some have the option to be self-guided. The exception is the walk in Glacier National Park, which requires professional park guides due to the presence of wildlife. Shorter routes are often available, although these shorter routes are not necessarily accompanied by WAI guides. Your experience on tour will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system, provided by the American Volkssport Association (AVA), which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI clients, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email debbi@wtpdx.com-OR- call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the Insuremytrip.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International
  • Betins
  • Travelex

We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. An Adventure Advice flyer will follow with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure. You will receive a final billing packet about 10 days before the due date, including a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Join us for this celebration of walking as we join the AVA Convention festivities and explore Montana and the Canadian Rockies next summer!