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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 tourist train. This train takes you through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offering two levels of service - redleaf and goldleaf.

Where is it?

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.

What do you get for your money?

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.

Goldleafcarriage.jpgThe interior of a goldleaf 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.

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.

How much is it?

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.

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