Rocky Mountaineer is stunning, inside and out. This is Western Canada’s most luxurious mode of transport, and its four routes carry you through the best scenery in the Rockies. But don’t think you have to choose between a Rocky Mountaineer holiday and getting out and about in Canada.
Yes, it’s a dazzling experience in itself. Along the way, you’re treated to haute cuisine, historical titbits and wildlife alerts by the talented chefs and hosts on board. But the train routes also stop off at amazing towns and cities just waiting for you to dive into their culture. Combine your train tour with some sightseeing and summer events for the best of both worlds!
Here are 9 amazing things you could see aboard Rocky Mountaineer this summer – one for each stop-off:
1. The view from Sulphur Mountain – Banff
If your Rocky Mountaineer tour starts or ends in Banff, choose a package that includes the Banff Gondola. The steep journey up Sulphur Mountain in a glass-sided gondola affords incredible views, only beaten by the views at the top!
Extend your stay in Banff for a couple more nights to explore even more of the fun-loving mountain city. Visit in May and you can take part in celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday. The Canada Art House Gallery is showcasing 150 pieces of quintessentially Canadian art from 10th May to 23rd May.
2. Lake Agnes Tea House – Lake Louise
The milky turquoise hues of Lake Louise are iconic, but there is even more to see here. Just past the grand façade of the Fairmont Lake Louise hotel is a bronze statue of a Swiss mountain guide, and just past him is the start of a trail up to the ‘Lakes in the Clouds’. Take time out from your train tour to climb the steep but hugely rewarding trail, offering a view of three lakes at once – Lake Agnes, Mirror Lake and Lake Louise. The tea house at the top is one of the most recognisable little lodges in Canada. Stop off for a rest and a well-deserved pot of tea.
If you happen to stay at the Fairmont over Victoria Day weekend between the 19th and 22nd of May, you can join in with an evening campfire outside the hotel and a cosy movie night indoors.
3. Valley of the Gods – Jasper
If you start or finish your Rocky Mountaineer tour in Jasper, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to hop in a boat and head for the Valley of the Gods. It’s an adventure of discovery as you cruise Maligne Lake’s azure surface towards the towering Valley of the Gods. The views are otherworldly.
If you visit between August 16th – 19th, make time to squeeze in an event at the Jasper Heritage Rodeo. Dating back to 1926, this is a modern-day celebration of the area’s ranching history.
4. The Okanagan wine region – Kamloops
Kamloops is a unique destination and is a favourite stop-off on the rail route between Banff and Vancouver. From semi-arid grasslands to alpine mountains, almost-deserts to the winding Thompson River, the geography is always unexpected. Its location in British Columbia’s winemaking hub (the Thompson Okanagan region) means a visit to a vineyard is a must.
If you’re here between 12th – 13th May, you could see the Kamloops Symphony orchestra perform Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky – the perfect accompaniment to a cool glass of local sauvignon.
5. Garibaldi Provincial Park – Whistler
Ride Rocky Mountaineer’s Rainforest to Gold Rush route and you’ll be treated to some spectacular views of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Roll through the impressive Cheakamus Canyon and spot Mount Garibaldi itself on your way to Whistler. For even more incredible views, choose a helicopter tour from Whistler. You can fly right up to the Cheakamus Glacier, where the adventurous can land on the 12,000-year-old ice and go for a stroll.
In the summer, Whistler is bustling with festivals. Go Fest is ‘Whistler’s Great Outdoors Festival’, which takes place from 19th to 22nd May. Try your hand at different outdoor activities and attend art, music and culture events. If you’re visiting between 3rd – 6th August you could join in Wanderlust’s yoga, meditation, music and arts festival to “find your true north”.
6. Fraser River – Quesnel
You’ll cross one of the highest railway bridges in the world as Rocky Mountaineer takes you over the Fraser River into Quesnel. Once you stop off in the town on your Rainforest to Gold Rush route, you can take the chance to cross the impressive river by foot. Take on Quesnel’s historic Fraser River footbridge – it’s the centrepiece of the Riverfront Trail system and is recognized as the longest wood truss walking bridge in the world.
Happen to be in Quesnel over 4th – 7th August? The annual SkyFest International Air Show promises aerobatic stunts to wow visitors of all ages.
7. Vancouver’s North Shore
If you combine a cruise with your Rocky Mountaineer journey, you could enjoy even more time in Vancouver, where both depart. Explore the stunning North Shore on a full day sightseeing tour, included in your package. Prove you’ve got a head for heights on the Capilano Suspension Bridge, explore the temperate rainforest, learn about First Nations heritage and ride the Grouse Mountain gondola.
If you’re in Vancouver over 8th – 9th July, you can join in the vibrant Carnaval del Sol. It’s the biggest Latin Carnaval in the Pacific Northwest and fills Vancouver’s plazas with music and colour.
8. The view from the Calgary Tower
As the gateway to the Rockies, many Rocky Mountaineer tours begin with your flight into Calgary. Here, you can have your first taste of the Rocky Mountains when you see them looming in the distance from the top of the Calgary Tower. Included in many rail packages, it’s the perfect way to get your bearings in a new country, and appreciate the sheer size of those peaks!
Calgary is synonymous with its annual Stampede. This year, the ‘Biggest Outdoor Show on Earth’ will take place over July 7th to July 16th. Make sure you get tickets for the exhilarating rodeo or spellbinding evening show. Even if you don’t make it to the main event, there will be free Music in the Plaza acts throughout July and August. Plus plenty of cowboy cheer, of course!
9. The Space Needle – Seattle
Didn’t expect to see one of the world’s most instantly-recognisable buildings on your train tour? Choose Rocky Mountaineer’s Coastal Passage and you can see two countries in one! Visit two of the Pacific Northwest’s most vibrant cities when you journey from Seattle to Vancouver. Get a great view of the Space Needle from the nearby Sky View Observatory.
If you visit over July 15th – 16th, you can sample some of the most delicious delights the Pacific Coast has to offer during Seattle’s Street Food Festival.