Rocky Mountaineer train, Canada
Winding its way through rugged mountain passes, forests filled with grizzly bears and grazing crystal-clear lakes, Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer train is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The company operates three distinct rail routes through British Columbia and Alberta, attracting 100,000 passengers every year thanks to its top-standard service and perks like glass-domed ceilings and outdoor viewing platforms.
There are actually a whopping 75 railcars in the fleet, and guests can ride in either Gold or Silver Leaf carriages. Allowing no scenery to go unseen, the train only operates during the day, and passengers spend their nights in premium destination hotels. Spot bears, bald eagles, elk and moose from its glass-domed ceiling before dining on a three-course Canadian lunch. Everything about the Rocky Mountaineer is spectacular.
Prices from; £1,121
Passengers: 900 at capacity
Carriages: Changes per journey
Departing from: Vancouver, Banff
Journey length: 2-10 days
Rocky Mountaineer train routes
Rocky Mountaineer operates three routes through Canada’s stunning Alberta and British Columbia regions. First Passage to the West takes guests on a scenic journey along the Kicking Horse River, passing through Kamloops and terminating at Banff or Lake Louise. Journey through the Clouds runs from Vancouver to Jasper, along the Fraser Canyon, through Hell’s Gate and to Mount Robson, the highest altitude in the Canadian Rockies.
The third, Rainforest to Gold Rush is a three-day adventure from Vancouver to Jasper, winding through scenic fjords, rugged national park and stopping in Whistler and Quesnel. Longer journeys are also offered, two journeys back to back or a Rockies Highlights adventure made up of one of the three routes combined with extended destination stays. All journeys run in both directions.
Rocky Mountaineer train
All of Rocky Mountaineer’s 75 trains are identical, made up of both Gold Leaf and Silver Leaf carriages. Gold Leaf is the pinnacle of travel, seating passengers in double decker carriages with dining on the lower level and luxury glass-domed seating at the top. Carrying a similar amount of passengers Silver Leaf is single story, with meals served to seats. Both carriages have dedicated hosts on hand to give information and tell stories, and also have outdoor viewing platforms – Gold Leaf’s being larger than Silver’s.
Sleeping on Rocky Mountaineer train
As a day train, the Rocky Mountaineer has no sleeper carriages or cabins, and guests are put up in premium hotels at each destination, all included in the price of the ticket. Transfers to and from the hotels are included, and guests can pick from a range of accommodations on booking, such as The Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff’s Upper Hot Springs, Calgary’s Fairmont Palliser or the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on the shores of Lac Beauvert. Silverleaf Leaf guests are offered a standard room in a comfortable hotel, while Gold Leaf guests get premium accommodation with many amenities on site.
Food and drink
Food and drink are included on board, with breakfast and three-course lunches served. On the Gold Leaf carriage meals are served in two sittings in the lower-level dining room, with breakfasts like fresh fruits, buttermilk pancakes and Eggs Benedict with Montreal-style smoked beef. Lunch menus feature pacific salmon, Alberta sirloin steak and Fraser Valley Chicken. In Silver Leaf, there same standard of Western-Canadian inspired dining is served to your seats. Breakfast menus features fluffy omelettes and parfaits and lunch grilled salmon and braised short ribs.
As the train spends the day moving, excursions are not offered on Rocky Mountaineer’s standard railings, with guests able to sightsee and wildlife watch from the vast windows and glass domes. On longer package journeys like the Rockies Highlights trip, which can last from four up to 10 days, excursions are part of the train fare. These include the Vancouver Lookout, a national parks pass, panoramic helicopter tour and Banff gondola excursion.
Dress code on board the train is smart casual, with the focus on being comfortable at all times.
With space for so many passengers on board the train, it’s no surprise the train route attracts a wide range of people. Anyone from photojournalists to wildlife geeks, small families and affluent couples can be found on board.
All meals on-board are included, along with alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, drinks and snacks throughout the day. While overnight hotel stays in Kamloops, Quesnel or Whistler are also part of the train fare, dinners off the train are at an extra expense. Gratuities are not included, and a tip of $40 to $50 per guest for the two days is recommended.
Pros and cons
What sets Rocky Mountaineer apart from its competitors is its superb level of service and outdoor viewing opportunities, with teams of dedicated carriage hosts, glass-domed ceilings in Gold Leaf and outdoor viewing platforms. Passengers should be aware than wifi is not available on the train and meals at destinations are not included.