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Exploring Canada by Rail on the Iconic Rocky Mountaineer

6th September 2018

The Rocky Mountaineer has been winding its way through British Columbia, Alberta and the Pacific Northwest for more than 80 years. Journeying by day through the wild natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies, and staying in a selection of high-quality hotels at night, this iconic rail journey travels along four distinct routes and forms the centrepiece of a variety of holiday packages.

Travel Associates advisor Zeenat Singh shares her recent travel experiences.

I recently spent two unforgettable days travelling from Vancouver to Banff on Rocky Mountaineer’s ‘First Passage to the West’, a journey that offered a number of memorable highlights.

The train

The Rocky Mountaineer is designed to make the most of the magnificent views. There are a choice of seating/service options, including RedLeaf, SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf service. I was lucky enough to travel in the latter, which offers unparalleled panoramic views from the glass-domed viewing carriage and an outdoor viewing platform. The luxury touches were everywhere, from the leather seats, complete with seat warmers, to the amazing service, food and drinks.

The service

What stood out most was the professionalism and local knowledge of the staff, who recounted fascinating fact on the history of the train and the areas we travelled through. We also loved how the driver announced when there was wildlife to be seen and the train slowed down so everyone had the opportunity to look when the call of “Bear on the left” was heard!

The food

The food and hospitality on Rocky Mountaineer is on par with the beautiful scenery. Each day, we enjoyed breakfast and lunch in the private dining area on board. There was an incredible choice of dishes and the menu, with the chefs showcasing fresh local produce. The desserts after lunch were something truly special we were even treated to freshly baked oatmeal cookies and hot chocolate.

The journey

Travelling through the Canadian Rockies by rail allows you to experience places not accessible by any other means of transport. You get to see stunning scenery and wildlife that may otherwise be missed, like soaring peaks, winding river canyons, dense pine forests, bright green meadows and tranquil lakes.

Off-train activities

Banff is one of those places that truly lives up to all your expectations… it’s just beautiful. We stayed at the Rimrock Resort Hotel, which felt like a magnificent castle with views over Banff and its forests, snow-covered peaks and valleys. A gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain offered views that were simply breathtaking, but it wasn’t until we enjoyed a helicopter ride en route to Calgary that we were able to take in the enormity of the splendour laid out below. Flying over huge mountains covered in snow offered a totally different perspective, and was a real highlight for me as it was first time I had ever been in a helicopter.

Overall experience

It may sound cliché, but this really was a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list experience. The stunning scenery of the Canadian Rockies was more than matched by the luxurious comfort, attention to detail and genuine hospitality on the Rocky Mountaineer. I would recommend the experience to anyone, as it’s truly special and the jaw-dropping scenery won’t disappoint.

To experience an unforgettable rail journey for yourself, talk to us now and see the world like you've never seen it before.