For unsurpassable views and an experience that's second to none, a Rocky Mountaineer rail tour should be right at the top of your list
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It’s no wonder that taking the train through Canada’s Rocky Mountains has become a must-do travel experience. The four Canadian railway routes operated by Rocky Mountaineer’s supremely comfortable trains wind through some of the world’s most spectacular mountain landscapes. Their scale is monumental – Mount Robson, the highest mountain peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 feet, is so vast it has its own microclimate. And the train goes right past it.
To enjoy the scenery to the full, someone else needs to take care of the driving, and it needs to be seen in daylight – Rocky Mountaineer’s trains are the only ones that pause for an overnight hotel stop when the light fades. The generously dome-windowed cars provide unrivalled views of the Rockies while helpful on-board staff will point out scenic notes. The four-seat dining tables in GoldLeaf Service make for convivial breakfasts and lunches, showcasing local and regional produce in dishes that would impress in a fine-dining restaurant. SilverLeaf Service passengers enjoy a choice of three dishes served in the comfort of their own seats. The white table linen, glass, proper cutlery and china recall the golden days of train travel, and complimentary drinks are available all day.
GoldLeaf Service on board the Rocky Mountaineer's trains adds even more luxury to your holiday.
Which way should you travel around the Rockies?
The hardest decision is which route to take first, not least because they each offer a different take on the Rockies. Two routes – Journey through the Clouds to Jasper and First Passage to the West to Banff – head from east to west, or vice versa, and share the route as far as the overnight stop at Kamloops. The climb into the mountains begins at Hope, and there are often gasps of astonishment as river and train squeeze past Hell’s Gate, the narrowest section of the Fraser Canyon.
Journey through the Clouds follows the North Thompson River through the gap between the Cariboo and Monashee mountains to pass the glacier that descends from Mount Albreda. The train skirts Mount Robson before dropping down to the idyllically sited resort of Jasper. First Passage to the West passes Shuswap Lake and Revelstoke before running beside the thunderous waters of the Illecillewaet River and through the spiral tunnels beneath the Continental Divide and descending to Banff.
Rainforest to Gold Rush heads north beside Howe Sound to Whistler and on past the emerald-green waters of mountain-set Anderson and Seton lakes to a majestic climb away from the Fraser River into ranching country. After an overnight stop at Quesnel, the train turns along the Rocky Mountain Trench and past Mount Robson to Jasper.
The fourth Rocky Mountaineer route, Coastal Passage, heads south from Vancouver across the US border to Washington state’s largest city, Seattle. The departure from Canada’s most beautifully situated city is dramatic, with views of the Fraser River bridges as the train clatters across the 1904-built swing bridge. Views over the Gulf Islands and the south end of Vancouver Island fill the windows before several inland detours, the train returning to the sea near the San Juan Islands and the Olympic and Cascade mountains.
As part of your trip, you can choose to stay in Banff, Calgary, Jasper, Victoria, Vancouver or one of Canada’s most famous hotels, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, in its incomparable position overlooking turquoise waters surrounded by mountains. Sheer perfection.
Travel past Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park.
Canadian Sky's recommended holiday
The Rocky Mountaineer Journey Through the Clouds at Leisure, 9 nights from £2,739pp.
- Start with a helicopter trip over the Rockies (as long as the weather is clement), before visiting the national parks of Jasper, Yoho and Banff, and stay in the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
- Then head out on the renowned Rocky Mountaineer to journey across the Rockies to Vancouver
- Package includes a nine-night tour, plus flights and transfers
Add a Wilderness Resort or Alaska Cruise
Extend your stay at the beautiful Sonora Resort, where you can hike, bike, fish and – in September and October – spot grizzly bears. Or try an Alaska Cruise through the icy fjords, watching the wildlife and admiring the snowy peaks.
For more information or to see our full range of escorted and self-drive tours visit the Canadian Sky website or call 01342 547005.
Admire the best of Canada's wildlife from the dome-windowed cars of the Rocky Mountaineer's trains.