For travelers, especially seniors, who want luxury and attentive service, the award winning Rocky Mountaineer luxury train takes guests on a journey through the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies.
These are inspiring, all-daylight trips, with impeccable service, gourmet cuisine, and breathtaking scenery for truly unforgettable travel experiences, through some of the greatest landscapes in the world - from semi-arid desert to lush old-growth forests, featuring waterfalls, millions of evergreen trees, aqua-blue rivers and snow capped mountains.
Years of experience perfecting details is the hallmark of these excursions. Taking a Rocky Mountaineer trip is on the bucket list of many a traveler. With panoramic views from custom-made, bi-level, dome cars, guests have the opportunity to get that photo of a lifetime... not to mention an adventure of a lifetime! The Rockies are gorgeous; Texans don't get to see beautiful mountains like these at home.
Our adventure took us from Vancouver to Kamloops, where we spent the night, then on to scenic Jasper. As we walked into the lively, bright train station, live music was provided by a pianist playing, “Don’t Fence Me In.” We took in the scene as we sipped coffee. It was a family-friendly crowd with all generations present. Small children darted about, excited to see the massive, Columbia blue and gold train through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Our hosts chose a child from the crowd to have the honor of blowing the starting whistle and a bagpiper serenaded us as we found our assigned cars and seats. In moments, we were checking out our two-decker car and glass ceiling with all-around views.
As the train slowly pulled out, the entire staff lined up to wave goodbye. Soon beverages and snacks were offered and we settled into two days of relaxing travel, with every need satisfied. I can't say enough about the staff on the trains. Delightfully conversational, appropriately friendly and talkative (enough, but not too much!), young, talented pairs work upstairs where the guests ride while other pairs work downstairs, where meals were served. The pairs switch roles on each trip.
Our hosts provided stories of the passing regions and pointed out the exciting views, including glacier-capped mountains, tumbling waterfalls and wildlife. One host told us, “The culinary adventure on-board reflects the regions through which the train travels, highlighting local ingredients, such as berries from Aldergrove, B.C., and Pacific salmon. Rocky Mountaineer executive chefs take inspiration from the natural drama unfolding out the train windows when designing all menus.” The food was excellent.
We followed the Fraser River, cruising between 10 and 60 miles per hour, with some commentary from the staff. They pointed out interesting and notable sights, and then let guests take in the scenery. with slowdowns for picture taking. The 281 guests on board hailed from around the world, including the U.S., Australia, England, Ireland and a few from Canada.
Our route was designated the Journey through the Clouds – where visitors witness the spectacular natural beauty of the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, including the majestic Mount Robson, its highest peak. We crossed two places where the Fraser and Thompson Rivers mix, easily distinguishing the cold blue water of the Thompson and the silt-heavy Fraser.
In late afternoon, after a lovely breakfast and lunch, we pulled into the town of Kamloops. This is a beautiful area with mountains in the distance, hills filled with homes and huge floral pots at the train station. Our hosts handed out room keys while we were still on board, making for a quick and efficient check-in. Our luggage was already in the room by the time our key turned in the door. There were quite a few things to do in this small town – a live concert in the riverfront park. a free walking heritage tour, shopping, dining and gambling. Everything is within walking distance.
Day two of our Journey through the Clouds started off with coffee and doughnuts (merely a prelude to the feast waiting on board) in the lobby, with lots of staff present to offer help and guidance. The same bus and bus driver was waiting to take us on the 10-minute ride to the train station. The red carpet was literally rolled out for us to board!
Breakfast, served on white linen tablecloths with china, fresh flowers and the gorgeous view moving by outside, consisted of pancakes served with syrup, berry compote and brown sugar and candied orange peel. Our seatmates, Mary Gayle and Jim from Virginia, requested gluten-free bread with their eggs Benedict and were gladly accommodated.
As the morning progressed, we ambled along the Fraser River and lakes. Scenery from the train changed from the semi-desert of yesterday to include much more green! For at least 10 minutes, the view from the train offered a spectacular view of Mount Robson.
We passed over Moose Lake, the mouth of Fraser River, with gorgeous emerald water and about 150,000 moose population. Moose, the largest member of the deer family, eat 20 pounds of river reeds a day. They are excellent swimmers and can dive up to 20 feet.
As we approached Jasper, a gorgeous rainbow appeared. No Hollywood movie could have provided a better end to the trip. And then, to our surprise, a black bear cub was wandering along the train track. Wow!
It was late afternoon as we pulled into Jasper. The staff pointed the way to guests - some were heading to hotels and then back on the train tomorrow. Others were staying on in Jasper. Others rented a car and sped out of town through Jasper National Park.
Jasper, located entirely within the park, offers visitors a more laid-back mountain experience, including options for adventure, discovery and relaxation. There are 1,000 kilometers of trails, thousands of campsites, immense wildlife, and it is home to the second-largest Dark Sky Preserve on the planet – that’s Jasper National Park.
As we drove out of town toward Edmonton, we stopped to admire a farewell herd of elk with magnificent racks. The animals looked up to look at us looking at them, then went right back to grazing in the early morning sunlight. What a spectacular way to start the day and end our trip.
There are more than 65 vacation packages, while choosing from the four unique rail routes for the Rocky Mountaineer. The Rainforest to Gold Rush route – Vancouver, Whistler, Quesnel, offers the pristine and diverse scenery from the world’s largest temperate rainforest to the desert-like terrain of the Fraser Canyon and historic Cariboo gold country.
The Coastal Passage – Seattle, Vancouver, Canadian Rockies, is the newest route connecting the cosmopolitan city of Seattle, one of the world’s most desired cruise ports, to beautiful Vancouver and the spectacular landscapes of the Canadian Rockies.
The First Passage to the West – Vancouver, Kamloops, Lake Louise or Banff, is the most popular route, and is the only passenger rail service on the historic Canadian Pacific track, famous for uniting the country and connecting British Columbia to Canada more than 125 years ago.
The Rocky Mountaineer, the world’s largest privately owned luxury tourist train, has welcomed nearly 2 million guests since 1990. The all-dome fleet offers rich, historic storytelling, world-class cuisine, and a first-hand look at the vast and untouched wild beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The Rocky Mountaineer features two levels of service: GoldLeaf and SilverLeaf. The season runs from end of April to mid-October, and travels through seven mountain ranges. The exchange rate in Canada on a recent date was $.77 to every U.S. dollar making this the perfect time to see Canada.
For more information, tours and pricing, go to rockymountaineer.com.