Rocky Mountaineer is a luxury train ride which takes in the best scenery in the Canadian Rockies. For some, this well-known holiday features high up on their bucket list. For others, you may still have some questions about what this holiday is and what’s included. Wondering what to expect onboard your Canadian Rockies train journey? Read on for the answers to your questions.
What is Rocky Mountaineer?
Rocky Mountaineer is a privately owned, luxury rail service which runs on some exclusive routes through the Rocky Mountains. You can book a journey on Rocky Mountaineer as part of a holiday package. The aim of the train is for customers to sit back and relax with impeccable service while you get to see and hear about the fascinating geology and wildlife of the mountains.
When does the train run?
The train runs between April and October with twice-weekly departures. Although it’s true that the Rockies get very snowy in winter and landslides are possible, the main reason for running during the fairer months is to make the most of the daylight. Those views are too good to miss them in the darkness of winter!
Where does the train go?
There are four routes to choose from. Three routes run through the Rocky Mountains. The fourth route runs up the coast from Seattle to Vancouver and can be “bolted on” to any of the three Rockies routes.
- • ‘Rainforest to Gold Rush’ runs from Vancouver up to Jasper via Whistler and Quesnel.
- • ‘Journey through the Clouds’ runs from Vancouver to Jasper via Kamloops
- • ‘First Passage to the West’ runs from Vancouver to Banff via Kamloops
- • ‘Coastal Passage’ runs from Seattle to Vancouver and can be joined with any of the other three Rockies routes
How do you see the views?
Rocky Mountaineer has two service levels to choose from – SilverLeaf Service and GoldLeaf Service. Which service level you choose will impact how you see those fantastic views! SilverLeaf seats all have huge picture-windows next to your seat to get those great views. The train carriage here is a single level one.
In GoldLeaf Service, the carriage has two levels with the dining room on the lower level and seating on top. This means you are higher up so get views above the treeline. The GoldLeaf carriages also have glass-domed roofs rather than picture windows, so you get 360° views. The cherry on the cake in GoldLeaf Service is the exclusive outdoor viewing platform which lets you get even closer to the views, with no windows in the way!
Can you get on and off?
No, the train doesn’t stop off at every town like a normal train (plus you don’t pass many towns – just stunning wilderness!) and the service is not hop-on, hop-off. The idea is that you spend full days on the train – around eight to ten hours – and then stop overnight.
This might sound like a long time to spend on one train, but the time flies. There is so much scenery to see and plenty of space to move around, with outside vestibules too. The Rocky Mountaineer hosts make sure they keep you entertained with facts and stories along the way, as well as pointing out wildlife.
Do you sleep on board?
No. Unlike other train services such as VIA Rail, Rocky Mountaineer only operates in daylight hours and is not a sleeper service. This makes sure you don’t miss any sights during the night. Once you have finished your leg of the journey for the day, Rocky Mountaineer stops off at a vibrant city overnight where you can have dinner, do a spot of sightseeing and sleep in a comfortable bed.
For SilverLeaf Service guests, your bed will be in a popular hotel, while GoldLeaf Service books you into a deluxe hotel. There is even an extra-special service level called GoldLeaf Deluxe if you want upgraded accommodation like the swankiest hotels and suites.
Are meals provided?
Yes indeed! One of the highlights of travelling onboard Rocky Mountaineer is the spectacular dining. The ride from Seattle to Vancouver on the Coastal Passage is in the evening, so dinner is provided on this route. For all the other routes, breakfast and lunch are provided during your time on the train.
For guests travelling in SilverLeaf Service, you’ll be served delicious meal options at your seat. For GoldLeaf Service guests, meals are served in a separate dining car on the lower level of the carriage. Here you can order from a three-course, a la carte menu and enjoy world-class dining. For all guests, snacks and drinks are provided throughout the day with local produce and Canadian Okanagan wines on offer.
Does Rocky Mountaineer help with transfers and baggage?
Oh yes. This is part of Rocky Mountaineer’s impeccable service. When you book a Rocky Mountaineer holiday, you are booking a complete package which includes all your transfers between the airport, the hotels and the train stations. You’ll travel in a luxury coach, so you won’t have to worry about getting around. Rocky Mountaineer even handle your baggage for you. Simply leave your bag in your hotel when you board the train in the morning and come evening, your bag will be waiting for you in your new hotel room.
What else can I see and do?
Rocky Mountaineer offers unique views of all kinds of scenery. There are dramatic canyons, waterfalls and rapids, turquoise lakes and towering peaks. The train is also an excellent way to spot wildlife. The train travels at a relaxed 35mph so the wildlife isn’t frightened – and you can get those incredible photos. Guests regularly see black bears, grizzlies, ospreys, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, elk and even cougars from the train. The hosts on board will point out when wildlife is visible and the driver will slow the train.
Off the train, the gorgeous stop-over cities offer sightseeing opportunities. Many packages also include sightseeing tours of places like Yoho National Park, Jasper National Park and the Icefields Parkway. Packages also come with exciting excursions like a glacier tour onboard an Ice Explorer truck, a helicopter flightseeing trip over the Rockies and a gondola ride up Banff’s Sulphur Mountain. Just look out for the package that suits you best.
Can I tailor my package?
Yes, you can. Rocky Mountaineer’s routes are fixed so you can’t change where you stop off, and stop-offs along the route will always be just one night. However, you can tailor your hotel accommodation to suit you, add extra nights at the start or end of your tour, or even combine Rocky Mountaineer with another holiday experience like a cruise. Just speak to our advisers about creating a package that suits you perfectly, with Rocky Mountaineer as the jewel in the crown of a fantastic Canadian holiday.