Have you ever wanted to see some of the most remote and gorgeous parts of the Canadian Rocky Mountains but have no desire to set off into the wilderness? If, like me, you feel that luxury travel is more like your idea of a good time, consider the Rocky Mountaineer’s grand vacation experience. You get to relax and enjoy high-end train travel and delectable dining all while seeing some of the most awe-inspiring sights in the world.
What It’s Like To Travel On The Rocky Mountaineer
Imagine being awed at every turn as you relax your way from Vancouver in British Columbia to Banff in Alberta. The Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to The West itinerary was created to make the experience pleasurable and memorable, and it does just that. No matter how much you prepare yourself for the scenic vistas that unfold one after another on the train ride, you are sure to be stunned by the totality of beauty you’ll take in all at once. Some of the sights you can see on board the train are ones not easily accessible in any other way.
After boarding the train and getting settled, you start the first day on board the Rocky Mountaineer with breakfast. The chefs prepare all meals from locally-sourced ingredients, and they are happy to accommodate vegans and those with other dietary needs. Their vegan menu is top notch and might include savory meals such as tofu curries and desserts like rich plant-based cheesecakes.
On the first day of train travel, you’ll move from the coastal city of Vancouver, with its surrounding snow-capped mountains, through lovely vistas in the Fraser Valley. You are sure to marvel at the powerful Fraser River and to spot the peaks of the Coast Mountains as they come into sight. The chefs also serve lunch on the first day of the trip.
There’s an overnight in Kamloops, a charming British Columbia city that’s situated by the meeting spot of the North Thompson and South Thompson rivers. You’ll have some time to explore the city a bit and enjoy dinner before going back to your comfortable hotel for a good night’s sleep. The next day, there’s an early start to maximize the daylight hours. After all, the train runs only during the day so that you can get the most of each view.
On the second day of your opulent adventure, you will once again be served breakfast in style, and you’ll be able to see the lovely Shuswap region and its many lake views. Soon after, you’ll see the mountains that seem to tower above endlessly.
The second day’s lunch will reflect the flavors of Western Canada, and your host will continue storytelling as they bring to life the area’s history as you spot the landmarks they discuss. When Castle Mountain comes into view, you’ll see where it gets its name. Explorers compared its intricate beauty to that of a medieval castle.
The train stops in Banff. As a gorgeous and welcoming community that’s surrounded by the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff is a picture-perfect destination to enjoy rafting on the river, strolling through the woods, skiing in the mountains or simply photographing the natural splendor you are likely to find all around you.
There are also spas where you can enjoy a rejuvenating treatment inspired by nature, as well as incredible hotels and resorts that are an experience unto themselves such as the Fairmont Banff Springs. This historical hotel is worth the journey all on its own. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s served guests since 1888 and is aptly called Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies.” It’s open year-round, and it offers exceptional skiing in the winter and sports opportunities like a 27-hole championship golf course in warmer months.
Although the train journey ends in Banff, you can choose to do a round trip and go back to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer. Otherwise, the next step on your vacation is your choice. You can enjoy as much time as you’d like in Banff before continuing on your vacation or going home.
Two Levels Of Service
Every seat on the Rocky Mountaineer provides a lavish experience, but you can choose between booking the Silver Leaf Service Coach and the Gold Leaf Service Coach. With both services, you get to see a dome view, relax in spacious seats and listen to your host tell entertaining stories as you experience the views. With both services, you also enjoy delectable meals, snacks and drinks, including alcoholic beverages.
What really sets the two apart is that, with the Gold Leaf service, you will be riding in a bi-level glass dome coach. Down below, you will be served meals in the dining room, and above are the seats with glass-domed windows that provide panoramic views of the wondrous sights. With Gold Leaf service, you will also have access to an outdoor viewing platform, and the spacious seats on top recline and can even turn 180 degrees if you are feeling social and want to meet your seat neighbors.
The Rocky Mountaineer Destinations
You can enjoy three different itineraries with the Rocky Mountaineer. The aforementioned First Passage to The West itinerary takes you from Vancouver to Lake Louise or Banff. The Journey Through the Clouds itinerary takes you from Vancouver to Jasper. Then there’s the Rainforest to Gold Rush trip that goes from Vancouver to Jasper, via Whistler and Quesnel.
In addition to three different itineraries in Canada, the Rocky Mountaineer launched a Rockies to the Red Rocks route in the US in 2021. This two-day journey takes guests from Denver, Colorado, to Moab, Utah, and it includes an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
The Rocky Mountaineer typically has journeys going in Canada and the U.S. from mid-April to late in October. Packages are now available for experiencing these one-of-a-kind train rides this year and beyond.