Jaw-dropping. Breathtaking. Or just plain awesome. That's the kind of answer you get when you ask travelers about their odyssey through Western Canada on Rocky Mountaineer.
Travel experts are equally impressed. National Geographic named Rocky Mountaineer one of the world's "Top 10 Trains." The Society of Travel Writers called it "the best train experience in the world." And Travel + Leisure magazine found it "life-changing."
In its quarter century of operation, Rocky Mountaineer has perfected a unique travel experience — one where the journey itself is as remarkable as the destination. Here are some of the highlights.
The timeless drama of nature
Glass-domed trains and outdoor vestibules give passengers a front-row seat at one of nature's most spectacular runway shows, featuring the gleaming blue waters of the Pacific, lush rainforests, stark deserts and, for a show-stopping finale, the magnificent Canadian Rockies.
Along the way, you'll see seven of North America's most thrilling mountain ranges, from the Cascades, formed from the volcanoes of the Pacific Rim of Fire, to the dramatic peaks of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The wonder of wildlife
You may see a bald eagle soaring across the skies to its mountain aerie, big horn sheep scampering across mountain ridges, and grizzlies or black bears with their playful cubs.
Elk pause to drink at pristine lakes, their ears alert for the sound of predators. Moose sometimes swim just for the fun of it (and chugging alongside Moose Lake on the Journey Through the Clouds route gives you a good chance to see them). And if your camera finger is quick, you might even snap the elusive giant Sasquatch loping across the landscape at dusk.
The shifting colors of the seasons
Rocky Mountaineer runs from April to October, and each season offers its own collection of colors and textures — white snowcapped mountains in spring, brilliant wildflowers in summer and in fall, a rich palette of autumn leaves and rivers that sparkle red with an abundance of salmon.
Four extraordinary routes
There are four Rocky Mountaineer routes, each with its own distinctive highlights and onboard hosts who share fascinating facts and historic details to enhance your experience.
Journey Through the Clouds: From Vancouver through picturesque Kamloops to Jasper, this route lives up to its romantic name. As the train ascends, you'll view the vast white expanse of the Albreda Glacier, the triple cascade known as Pyramid Falls and towering Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
First Passage to the West: History comes alive as you travel the rails that first united the nation more than a century ago, from the Pacific Ocean to the Kicking Horse River and across the Continental Divide to Banff. One wow moment is a ride through the remarkable Spiral Tunnels, which took 1,000 men and 78 carloads of dynamite to complete back in 1909.
Rainforest to Gold Rush: Recapture the romance of the Gold Rush era as you travel through the rugged mountain terrain of Whistler, then head north to the old mining trail known as the Cariboo Wagon Road and historic Quesnel, the Gold Pan City, where you can still see the original Hudson's Bay trading post.
Coastal Passage: On this international route, travel from sea level to the peaks of the Canadian Rockies. This unique rail experience connects the cosmopolitan cities of Seattle and Vancouver to the ever changing landscapes of British Columbia and Alberta, serving up the crème de la crème of Western Canada with a little bit of America on top.
Luxurious service and gourmet meals
Rocky Mountaineer’s unparalleled service is notable for its personal touch and attention to detail. Train hosts love to call out a bear or moose sighting for passengers and watch them flock to one side of the car, as they describe the exciting and romantic history of the passing landmarks. Meals are either served hot right at your seat in SilverLeaf Service or eaten in the elegant downstairs dining room in GoldLeaf Service. Guests are treated to meals created by top chefs that reflect the passing regions. From Alberta beef to pacific salmon, the culinary delights are inspired and sourced from the areas Rocky Mountaineer passes through. From freshly baked scones first thing in the morning to baggage that arrives seamlessly at your hotel each evening, Rocky Mountaineer provides luxury from start to finish.
– Maxine Nunes, Tribune Content Solutions