5 February 2018 by Alison Nicolle
An insider's guide to Rocky Mountaineer's Canadian Rockies Highlights
Seven-time winner of the ‘World’s Leading Travel Experience by Train’, Rocky Mountaineer offers Canada’s most luxurious rail journeys. Here, Wexas specialist Alison Nicolle reports back from the Rocky Mountaineer's signature journey - a weeklong itinerary that winds up through the Rockies from Vancouver to Calgary.
We seem to be enjoying something of a second golden age of rail travel. Indeed, it’s impossible to match the heritage of the Orient Express, the Trans-Siberian’s epic journey or the unique exoticism of India’s luxury trains. And, Rocky Mountaineer doesn’t even try. Instead, it offers some of the world’s most dramatic mountain scenery, much of which – from hidden waterfalls to snow-capped peaks – simply isn’t otherwise accessible. It’s a vital differentiation. After all, it’s not competing against North America’s rail journeys, but those around the globe.
Winding through the Rockies
My trip began in the crisp autumn sunshine of Vancouver. I’ve been before but there’s something intangibly attractive about this most of Canadian cities. Perhaps it’s something in the craft beer, but there’s a reason it’s often found topping lists of the world’s most liveable places.
But, I was here for the train journey. After a night in a hotel catching up on sleep, we were brought to Rocky Mountaineer’s exclusive station, its private lounge buzzing with anticipation. Then, boarding to a bagpipe fanfare, I was quickly settled in with a glass of fizz as the train pulled off. The city limits faded quickly and we were soon among the Canadian wilds, with dense forests and river canyons providing the backdrop. Although it’s a long day on the train, between the delectable meals and, yes, free-pour drinks, it truly sped by and soon we were rolling into Kamloops. I even managed to spot a pair of mountain goats as we skirted its lake.
View from GoldLeaf
Rejoining the train the next day, I got a taste of the SilverLeaf Service. To be candid, if I hadn’t experienced GoldLeaf Service the day before, I’d have been sure that these were the premium carriages. The service and standard of dining were just as good, but I did miss the open-air observation car and split-level restaurant carriage, which added to the occasion. However, if anything, the scenery was even more impressive today, as we climbed higher into the Rockies.
Disembarking for a night on Lake Louise, we were then treated to two days of off-train touring. Highlights included a spectacular cable-car ride over Banff National Park, an off-road expedition onto the mighty Athabasca Glacier and stays in timber-lodge hotels, complete with rooftop Jacuzzis and hot-tub views of roaming elk. However, it was a stop at Peyto Lake that really took my breath away, its waters turned an impossible shade of blue by the glacial melt.
Ice Explorer - Athabasca Glacier
Finally, ending in Calgary, I had some time to reflect on the journey behind me. I could only conclude that Rocky Mountaineer really does deserve its place in the canon of the world’s greatest rail journeys.
For a full, day-by-day itinerary, visit our Canadian Rockies Highlights itinerary or, to book Alison's journey, call our specialists today.