Western Canada is known for its incredible scenery – especially the dramatic Canadian Rocky Mountains. One fabulous way to see this landscape is by train – along the old Canada Pacific Railroad lines. Erin on our Pique Travel team recently experienced this on the beautiful and luxurious Rocky Mountaineer in April. Here’s more about her trip and why she suggests it to anyone looking to see the wild nature of this region in a comfortable manner.
After spending a couple days in Vancouver (which is one of my new favorite cities!) I departed from the stunning Rocky Mountaineer train station with a grand sendoff, including a bagpiper. Once on board, we were immediately served a lovely welcome drink that we used to toast our journey with our friendly and knowledgeable on-board hosts. Food and drinks were plentiful along the entire ride, and the large train car windows allowed everyone to comfortably take in the views no matter where you were seated. When I needed a breath of fresh air, it was simple to step out between the cars in the outdoor viewing area to feel the crisp air. Perhaps one of the nicest things about this journey was the stops each evening – no sleeping in a berth that comes out of the wall as you rock down the tracks. This train stops each night and you sleep in gorgeous hotels such as the Fairmont Lake Louise or the Rim Rock Hotel in Banff.
My route spent a quick night in Kamloops before looping up to Jasper, which was a highlight thanks to the four bears we saw from the train coming into town! The train slows down for special sights and the drivers radio to the hosts when there are exciting wildlife encounters, making it hard to miss them. After a night in Jasper, we switched to a coach bus and looped through Jasper National Park down to the picturesque Lake Louise. Then after a day exploring Yoho National Park, we were dropped off to explore the lovely town of Banff – lots of great eating and shopping to be had (especially when the US Dollar is so strong against the Canadian Dollar. It’s like everything is on sale!). The last day included a lift up the Banff Gondola, which has a great museum and old weather station at the top. We ended our journey in Calgary for one last evening.
One amazing part of the Rocky Mountaineer is the incredible experiences included in the trip. One highlight for us was exploring the glacier in the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park. We rode in a giant “ice explorer” vehicle with tires taller than most of us. The sun reflecting off the ice really highlighted the beautiful turquoise color of the glacier and we were able to walk around in a roped off area taking in the pristine snow and mountains around us.
If you’ve ever considered seeing parts of North America by train, we highly recommend considering the Rocky Mountaineer. There are a variety of routes and ways to travel, allowing us to customize the perfect journey for you. Perhaps you want to combine the train with a rental car to travel at your own pace and go off the beaten path. Or, you might want to tack on a few nights at the stunning Sonora Resort. Maybe you want to plan a few days in Vancouver before the journey begins, like I did. Whatever your preferences may be, we’d love to help you customize your Canadian rail vacation.
Contact me at ErinG@PiqueTravel.com if you want to hear more about my experiences, or better yet, start talking about some that would be perfect for you!