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Rocky Mountaineer

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Rocky Mountaineer

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If you want to see the Canadian Rockies in style, you can't get better than the Rocky Mountaineer [1] tourist train. This train takes you through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offering two levels of service - redleaf and goldleaf.

Where is it?[edit]

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.

What do you get for your money?[edit]

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.

How much is it?[edit]

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 [2]

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