All aboard the Rocky Mountaineer
The Rocky Mountaineer train is an iconic symbol of Canada and a trip aboard is widely regarded as one of the best train journeys in the world. 2014 marks its 25th anniversary and I was lucky enough to travel on the most famed route: the ‘First Passage to the West’, from Banff to Vancouver.
Awaiting the arrival of the train in the small station of Banff, against the backdrop of the Rockies, you can feel the excitement of all of the passengers on the platform. The Rocky Mountaineer makes its way slowly into the station allowing you to get some fantastic photo opportunities of its arrival.
There are three classes aboard the train – Red Leaf, Silver Leaf and Gold Leaf. All of these are extremely comfortable and offer fantastic service. There is a separate dining area where you can enjoy fresh gourmet food and listen to the commentary given by staff on Canada and the Rocky Mountaineer’s history.
I travelled in Gold Leaf, and sat back in my spacious and comfortable seat to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings through the windows and the glass dome. This was a particular bonus when several eagles flew over the train. As the train makes little noise, and travels slowly, there are superb wildlife spotting opportunities to be had, and passengers are alerted to wildlife so that you know where to look.
On my journey, we were lucky enough to see a black bear and a grizzly bear among the trees, and a bighorn sheep, very close to the tracks.
The journey from Banff to Kamloops takes around ten hours, depending on freight train traffic (freight trains having priority over the Rocky Mountaineer). After an overnight stay in a hotel in Kamloops, the onward journey to Vancouver is another eight hours or so.
Throughout the two day trip, the landscape changes from the heart of the Rocky Mountains themselves through to lush greenery, mountains, vineyards and magnificent lakes. Passengers also experience the infamous ‘Spiral Tunnels’, an incredible feat of engineering considered to be one of North America’s most scenic train experiences.
The Rocky Mountaineer is a once-in-a-lifetime journey and a real highlight of any visit to the beautiful country of Canada.
No pictures or stories can do this incredible trip justice; you have to experience it for yourself. I would recommend the Rocky Mountaineer as a supremely relaxing and comfortable way to take in some outstanding scenery and wildlife at a gentle pace.
Our Majestic Rockies by Rail and Road itinerary includes the two day journey on the Rocky Mountaineer, and an equally scenic drive along the Icefields Parkway.
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