Traveling by Rail is a Great Way to Explore the Canadian Rockies

Anyone who enjoys taking in spectacular scenery or prefers to leave the driving to someone else will enjoy a journey through the Canadian Rockies aboard the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer.

The rail-tour company, in operation since 1990, offers passengers a choice of four routes. You can start in Vancouver or Seattle, depending on the route, and end in the Rockies, or vice versa.

First Passage to the West is the most popular, passing through the famous Spiral Tunnels and the spot where the last spike was driven to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway. You’ll get a view of spectacular mountains and canyons, and visit the resorts of Banff or Lake Louise.

Journey through the Clouds follows the route of the Fraser River and ends in the alpine town of Jasper. You’ll pass by the Albreda Glacier and Pyramid Falls, hopefully spotting wildlife along the way. The highlight is a view of majestic Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at nearly 13,000 feet.

Rainforest to Gold Rush offers a varied landscape, from British Columbia’s coastal rainforest to the rugged, desert-like Fraser Canyon. You’ll visit the resort town of Whistler as well as Quesnel, the commercial center of the 1862 Cariboo Gold Rush, before ending your journey in Jasper.

The Coastal Passage seamlessly connects the cities of Seattle and Vancouver, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean before heading into the Canadian Rockies. You’ll travel along Puget Sound and Chuckanut Bay, where the mountains of the Cascade Range meet the sea.

To take full advantage of daylight hours, the Rocky Mountaineer only operates between April and October. And all train travel is done during the day, with overnight stays in hotels along the way. Journeys stretch from two days to two weeks, with the option of adding an Alaska cruise to the beginning or end of the train trip.

Aditionally, you have the option of choosing GoldLeaf or SilverLeaf Service. GoldLeaf passengers travel in a bi-level domed coach, with panoramic views from the upper level and an outdoor viewing platform. Gourmet meals featuring the best of regional cuisine are served in a dining room with large picture windows. Passengers get upgraded hotel rooms where available. As a SilverLeaf passenger, you’ll travel in a single-level dome coach with oversized windows and enjoy regionally inspired gourmet meals at your seat. Both levels offer storytelling by onboard hosts and the opportunity to see the same spectacular scenery.

While any time is a great time to travel, depending on when you go, you’ll see different things along the way. Plants and wildlife are beginning to emerge in April and May, and there’s often a dusting of snow on the mountains. If you’re combining your rail journey with a cruise, May and June are ideal months. July and August are perfect for outdoor activities. In September, you’ll see snow-capped peaks. That’s also when the salmon run takes place, which attracts bears and eagles.

For assistance booking a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer, contact a Travel Leaders travel agent.

Terry DentonComment