The Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian luxury train. From Vancouver, The Rocky Mountaineer makes a two-day trip to Banff, Alberta, through some of the most gorgeous scenery you’ll ever see through the wilderness of Canada.
During the ride, the staff shares little nuggets of information about Canadian history and passengers learn how integral the trains were to the development of Alberta. When a good photo opportunity is coming up the staff will let you know, as well as alerting you to wildlife sightings including the exciting declaration everyone wants to hear: “Bear on your right!”
The most spectacular thing I saw on the train were loads of rainbows. One was a double rainbow with the most defined colors and lines I’ve ever seen on a rainbow my entire life. It didn’t even look real it was so vivid.
The train offers three service options but the most popular and most luxurious is GoldLeaf. A bi-level coach with a glass dome offers panoramic views from an elevated vantage point. Seating in GoldLeaf is the most comfortable on the train and the world opens up to you through the huge windows as you move along.
Bright turquoise blue lakes and streams, mossy forests, and rocky bluffs all right there in front of you. It’s likely you’ll see wildlife like eagles, bighorn sheep, elk, and if you are really lucky–bears. We did see a bear, but it was more of a brown blob from my vantage point. We got very close to two elk in a scene that looked like it was straight out of a fairy tale enchanted forest.
This train begins in Vancouver, overnights in Kamloops and then traverses through the Canadian Rockies to Banff. Meals are served in the dining car and your luggage is waiting for you in your upscale room in Kamloops. In the dining car, seating is in tables of four so that travelers can mingle over gourmet food prepared with a focus on local cuisine. It’s a nice way to get to know your fellow travelers.
After being teased with such beautiful views for two days, arrival in Banff is ecstatic. Getting there by train gives you a wonderful perspective.
What You Need To Know about being a Passenger on the Rocky Mountaineer
Besides browsing their website, here are a few things to keep in mind if you book a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer.
1. You need sea legs. Train legs? The constant (and wonderful) sway of the train does a number on your equilibrium, and when you get off the train, you will feel the movement similar to what it feels like when you’ve been sailing for a few days then step on land.
2. Don’t bother too much with pictures, just enjoy the moment. Unless you go outside to open air, your photos will probably have refections and blurred images. Take some, sure, but then just commit the rest to memory and enjoy the experience. The scenery is so beautiful it’s natural to try to capture the image, but it’s fleeting and hard to catch. I wasted too much time on trying to get pictures and had about a million blurry images to delete.
3. Be prepared for delays. Cargo trains get priority passage, so you may find yourself sitting on the tracks. The staff are great about keeping everyone informed and entertained, so it’s not a big deal. There are a steady stream of snacks as well, so you can always have a bite to eat or a drink.
4. They play music sometimes on the train, so if you want to stay in your own little world, bring your noise canceling headphones. Mine came in handy when I just wanted to zone out on the scenery. By the same token, if you are traveling with kids, it’s a lot to expect for them to sit still for two days. Our devices kept both myself and my rockstar son (who did great on this trip at nine years old by the way) happy.
5. Bring a hat if you are sitting in GoldLeaf, as the sun can get pretty bright beaming down on you from the domed ceiling. A baseball cap is fine, or anything with a brim. Or–you can purchase a cool conductor’s hat with the Rocky Mountaineer logo and Canadian flag right there on the train when they come around with souvenirs.
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* We were guests of the Rocky Mountaineer, opinions are my own.
* First image courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer.