Nothing can really prepare you for the breath-taking scenery of the Rocky Mountains. From a distance they are spectacular, so being able to travel through them, in the comfort of specially adapted Rocky Mountaineer train, is nothing short of miraculous.
Your journey on the Rocky Mountaineer usually starts on the Pacific coast in the city of Vancouver. There are then a number of different routes the train can take in to the Rocky Mountains. The train does not have sleeper cabins, so all the journey is done in daylight hours, with stops in selected local hotels along the route included.
The most common routes for the Rocky Mountaineer are wither from Vancouver to Banff/Lake Louise or from Vancouver to Jasper via Whistler. Both are great routes and can be combined to create a circular route if you wish. Alternatively you can choose to complete a one-way route and then transfer on to Calgary.
Surrounded by water and mountains, Vancouver is a popular city to visit all year round, but in summer its outdoor spaces, parks and harbour come alive with activity. Whether it is cruises on the water, cycling around the park or just wandering the shoreline, there is always something to see and do in Vancouver. Summer is also the time to board the Rocky Mountaineer train as it leaves the coast and heads in to the mountains.
The scenery changes dramatically as you head to Kamloops in the British Columbia interior. Lush green fields will become forests and rocky river canyons as you approach the first peaks of the Rockies. First day highlights will include the Hell’s Gate waterfall and the steep scree-slopes of the Thompson River Canyon. At Kamloops you will depart the train and be transferred to your hotel.
The spectacular train journey continues over high mountain passes and through remarkably engineered tunnels towards Banff. Expect to see impressive views of snow-capped mountains as you cross the Rogers Pass and then the rushing waters of Kicking Horse Canyon as you roll on past. The day ends in the resort town of Banff where you will be transferred to your hotel.
You then have two days away from the train exploring the area around Banff. Enjoy a guided tour of Banff National Park and a ride up the Banff cable-car. Cruise on Lake Minnewanka and view the Hoodoos. There is a full day at leisure to see things at your own pace and you may choose to visit the hot springs, learn more about the town at the museum or enjoy the mountain trails.
From Banff you are able to enjoy a half-day tour through the Yoho National Park and on to the magnificent location of your hotel at Lake Louise. Here you can choose to relax and take in the magnificent views of the soaring peaks or go for hike along the lake. You can also take a canoe out on the turquoise lake for a closer look at the glacier.
On the way to Jasper you will be take in the Banff and Jasper National Parks along the Icefields Parkway. At the Columbia Icefield you will be taken on to the ice in a specially adapted vehicle to learn more about glacial processes and the Athabasca Glacier. From here you are transferred to your hotel in Jasper.
Jasper National Park is UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest National Park in the Rockies. Your guided tour will take in the Maligne Canyon as you search for some of the local wildlife among the peaks and gorges. At Jasper you will reboard the Rocky Mountaineer train to journey on to the rural town of Quesnel, on the way you will pass through the Rocky Mountain Trench, guarded on each side by the Rocky and Cariboo mountains. The train then follows the Fraser River into Quesnel where you will be transferred to your hotel.
From Quesnel the train heads for Whistler, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The route crosses the Cariboo Plateau and through ranch-lands with rolling hills and views of the Fraser Canyon. The train will cross the Deep Creek Bridge, one of the highest railway bridges in the world. At Whistler you will be transferred to your overnight hotel.
After exploring the resort of Whistler at your leisure, you reboard the Rocky Mountaineer for your final journey back to Vancouver along the route that is known as the sea to sky corridor. You will be able to see the Chealamus Canyon, Mount Garibaldi and the Brandywine Falls as the train returns to the coast. At Vancouver you will be transferred to your hotel as your amazing journey comes to an end.