If you want to see the [[Canadian Rockies]] in style, you can't get better than the Rocky Mountaineer tourist train. This train takes you through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offering two levels of service - redleaf and goldleaf. Redleaf includes a seat in a standard train carriage and cold meals served at your seat. Goldleaf passengers travel in a domed car, with a special dining room for each carriage where you are served gourmet meals (such as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and lobster eggs benedict for breakfast.) Access to the goldleaf carriages is via a spiral staircase which could offer a problem for the disabled or frail. I couldn't see any way for a disabled person to get upstairs, but the carriage has a disabled toilet downstairs so I guess there must be SOME way to manage it! The Redleaf cars are a standard train carriage.
While you can travel the north route on a standard VIArail train, it traverses much of the area in the evening/night, so you can't see a whole lot out of the windows. The Rocky Mountaineer is specially timed to travel only during the daylight hours, so you can see a whole lot more.
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The Rocky Mountaineer is actually two trains - it travels from [[Vancouver]] to [[Kamloops]] the first day, through fairly pastoral country with a lot of lakes, which changes to a much drier desert-type region as you approach Kamloops. The second day the train splits into two segments, the first half travelling to [[Jasper]] on the northern track, while the remainder of the train goes south to [[Banff]]. The southern route has recently been extended and it is possible to continue to [[Calgary]] on the same train. The trip also runs in reverse, as the trains go back and forth several times a week.
During this second day's travel, the scenery rapidly becomes mountainous and the train travels along the [[Bow River Gorge]] and into the Rockies.
One added feature of the goldleaf cars is a small open-air verandah at the rear of the carriage. This is quite bumpy and very noisy and chilly, but it allows you to take videos/photographs without anything between you and the scenery.
If you want to see the Canadian Rockies in style, you can't get better than the Rocky Mountaineer tourist train. This train takes you through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offering two levels of service - redleaf and goldleaf.
The Rocky Mountaineer has three routes - between Vancouver and Banff or Calgary, between Vancouver and Jasper and between Whistler and Jasper.
Each trip is two days long with an overnight stay at a hotel en route because the Rocky Mountaineer does not travel at night. The first day from Vancouver, includes the suburbs, the Fraser Valley, the Fraser Canyon and then into fairly pastoral country with a lot of lakes, which changes to a much drier desert-type region as you approach Kamloops. During this second day's travel, the scenery rapidly becomes mountainous and the train travels along the Bow River Gorge and into the Rockies.
The trip also runs in both directions and departs Vancouver, Banff, Jasper and Calgary each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from the beginning of April until the middle of October. Trains depart Whistler and Jasper on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday but not as frequently as the other two routes since this is a new route - begun in 2006 - and there isn't yet as much demand for it though I personally believe it is every bit as wonderful as the other two routes.
Redleaf includes a seat in a standard train carriage and cold meals served at your seat. Goldleaf passengers travel in an elevated domed car, with a special dining room for each carriage where you are served gourmet meals (such as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and lobster eggs benedict for breakfast.) Access to the GoldLeaf dome seating is by way of a spiral staircase or an elevator for people who might have trouble with the stairs.
GoldLeaf Service also includes an observation platform at the end of each car so you can stand outside and enjoy the scenery and take pictures without worrying about the glare from the windows.
The interior of a goldleaf carriage.
While you can travel between Vancouver and Jasper by VIA Rail train, the VIA Rail train departs Vancouver at 5:30 PM and arrives in Jasper the following morning at 11:00 AM. The train departs Jasper at 3:30 PM each Monday, Thursday and Saturday and arrives in Vancouver at 7:50 AM the following morning. The Rocky Mountaineer is an all daylight train, traveling only during the daylight hours, so you can see a whole lot more.
During the summer, however, when the days are 16 hours long, you can actually see a lot of scenery on the VIA Rail train, and if you have your heart set on sleeping on the train, VIA Rail is the way to go.
The Rocky Mountaineer is run by private enterprise, and they offer a wide range of tourist packages to suit different needs. You can do anything from a one-way trip to Jasper or Banff up to a complete trip across Canada, or a circuit of the Rockies with stays at Lake Louise and the Banff Springs Hotel.
The Rocky Mountaineer was recently featured on ABC's reality show, the Bachelorette in 2009 as the Bachelorette, Jillian Harris, was from Alberta originally but lived and worked in Vancouver, British Columbia. For the first time in the show's history the Bachelorette filmed in Canada with the 4th, 5th and 6th episodes filming in Vancouver, Whistler, and Alberta along the Rocky Mountaineer tour to Banff. For the Vancouver episode, Jillian took her bachelors on scenic trips around Vancouver, including a Coal Harbour dinner cruise hosted by local adventure tour operator, Exposure Travel
Rocky Mountain has locked out its workers for the past year. You will be travelling with scabs if you travel with these people.