Two Elk lock horns. Image credit: Rocky Mountaineer
The Rocky Mountaineer train is no wonder a legendary ride. The different routes take in spectacular scenery, and those riding on board get to see views and reach places you won’t be able to get any other way. The views of glacier-fed lakes, mountain peaks, and forests, along with the world-class cuisine and service on board, make the train journey one of the best in the world.
In this guide, we look at Rocky Mountaineer’s Journey Through the Clouds route and share some of the highlights you can see on this journey and the excursions and tours you can do along the way.
Highlights of the Journey Through the Clouds
This bustling seaport on the west coast of Canada is where you will either start or end your trip on the Journey Through the Clouds route on the Rocky Mountaineer.
It would be best if you made some time before or after the train ride to explore this city as there are so many attractions you can see and activities you can try. You can visit attractions like the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain, and Granville Island, to name just a few.
Vancouver is also a perfect city to visit for lovers of the outdoors. You can go hiking, cycling, kayaking, whale-watching, ziplining or board a float plane and go flightseeing.
Alicia, a British travel writer and photographer based in Vancouver who runs the Go Live Explore site, talks about why Vancouver is a great city to visit in the summer: “It can sometimes be hard to decide between a city and beach holiday, but the beautiful thing about Vancouver is that you don’t have to choose – you can have both!
“A typical day in Vancouver can easily look like this: brunch in the morning overlooking Yaletown Marina, early afternoon shopping on Robson Street, late afternoon paddle boarding or kayaking around Deep Cove or Granville Island, and sunset beers and dinner at Jericho Sailing Club or Kitsilano Beach. Along with the mountains at your disposal, you have the best of all worlds, so your holiday can be as city chic or beach bum as you like.”
ALSO READ: Top attractions & things to do in Vancouver
For large parts of the Rocky Mountaineer’s Journey Through the Clouds route, you will see the magnificent Fraser River. It is the longest river in British Columbia, stretching over 1,300 kilometres from Mount Robson Provincial Park to the Strait of Georgia at Vancouver.
The river has a fascinating history as it was named after the explorer Simon Fraser and it was a vital route for transporting goods across the province, and once gold was discovered on its sandbars, it kicked off the Fraser River Gold Rush. It was a lifeblood for the Indigenous people long before any explorers came across it as it was a food source, and on the Rocky Mountaineer, you will see this spectacular river in all its glory.
Hell’s Gate on the Fraser River is a sight you won’t forget in a hurry, as this spectacular 33-metre-wide gorge sees an estimated 750 million litres of water passing through it every minute. There is a beautiful pedestrian suspension bridge above it and the place is one of British Columbia’s top attractions. Hell’s Gate is one of the stunning sites you can see on the Rocky Mountaineer, and the staff aboard the train will be able to tell you a little bit of history about it and how early explorers managed to navigate this obstacle.
Did you know that Fraser River is Canada’s largest salmon run and once this eco system was put in danger? In 1914 a massive rockslide fell into the river because of construction works by the Canadian Northern Railway in 1911 and made Hell’s Gate even narrower. This abstracted the passage of the spawning Pacific salmon and many years later the government had to build concrete fish ladders to help the fish continue its journey upstream.
You will enjoy an overnight stop in the charming city of Kamloops on the Rocky Mountaineer’s Journey Through the Clouds route.
Kamloops is home to desert-like topography, and it is this landscape that makes it an outdoor playground where nature and adventure seekers have access to trails, lakes and rivers that are just a short distance from the city. If you want to experience this, then the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, the largest municipal park in British Columbia, offers sweeping views of Kamloops Lake and is the perfect place to catch the sunset skies of a summer evening.
Despite being a small city, Kamloops is also home to local craft breweries, wineries, and lively eateries so that you can expect a fun-filled stop during your trip.
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer at Savoteur, and she suggests heading to Riverside Park as one of the first things you do in Kamloops: “The best thing to do in Kamloops to really get a sense of the city is to head straight to Riverside Park. This park offers a great place to enjoy the outdoors, complete with an outdoor splash pool, tennis courts and children’s playgrounds- it also has walking trails around its perimeter that give visitors a chance to experience nature up close.”
The Pyramid Falls is where the glacier-fed Pyramid Creek and the North Thompson River join to create a waterfall that is roughly 300 feet high and has multiple drops.
With the water weaving down a mountain face over three stairstep-style tiers that cause the water to fan out into a pyramid shape, the Pyramid Falls is one of the best spots to take a photograph on the Journey Through the Clouds route on the Rocky Mountaineer.
The falls are surrounded by a small provincial park that preserves the area and the only way to see the spectacular Pyramid Falls from a vantage point is by rail.
The towering peak of Mount Robson, which at a staggering 3,954 metres is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, is one of the most eye-catching sights you can see on the Rocky Mountaineer’s Journey Through the Clouds route.
From the train, you will see the enormous mountain and the dense forest surrounding it, whilst the Rocky Mountaineer hosts will share some fascinating information about the iconic peak.
If you want to photograph this great peak, you should be prepared on the outdoor viewing platform and use a fast shutter speed to capture sharp photos without motion blur. The staff will be able to tell you when the train is approaching it.
ALSO READ: History of the Rocky Mountaineer
Jasper is a key part of the Journey Through the Clouds route, and during your visit, you’ll want to explore every corner of this quaint mountain town. It is the commercial centre of the world-famous Jasper National Park, and it is a place where adrenaline seekers, wildlife lovers and star-gazers descend.
Rocky Mountaineer stops at Jasper, and you’ll want to pack as much exploration in as possible and one of the best ways to kick off your time in Jasper is to ride on the Jasper SkyTram to the top of Whistlers Mountain, where you will enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding mountain ranges. There are plenty of hiking trails that you can enjoy from Jasper, and with Jasper National Park, a dedicated Dark-Sky Preserve, it is one of the best places in Canada to go stargazing.
Whilst nature is what Jasper is most famous for, Samuel Jeffery, who runs the Nomadic Samuel travel blog, says there are many cultural attractions to visit.
“Even though Jasper is known primarily for its natural attractions, it does have some cultural assets worth checking out. Those that are interested in how this settlement carved out of the Rocky Mountain wilderness came to be should head to the Jasper Museum & Archives, which is located on the road that traces the back of the townsite.”
ALSO READ: 48 hours in Jasper
Journey Through the Clouds excursions
When you book the Journey Through the clouds route, you can enhance your experience by adding extra nights and some unforgettable excursions.
Journey Through the Clouds route is between Vancouver and Jasper via Kamloops, and the Rocky Mountaineer train operates in both directions. You can add couple of nights at Lake Louise and/or Banff either before your train ride or after it and explore even more from the iconic Canadian Rockies (motorcoach transfers will be included in your package). Thus, depending on your preferred package, you can opt for day tours departing from Vancouver, Banff, or Jasper.
Here we look at the ones you can enjoy from Jasper. However, there are more on offer and if you call our experts, they will tailor-make the package you want.
Jasper National Park is the largest in the Canadian Rockies, and as part of this excursion, you can explore some of the jewels in its crown. During your tour around this UNESCO World Heritage site, you will explore some of Jasper’s most famous attractions, Maligne Canyon and the picture-perfect Maligne Lake where you can take a cruise to the iconic Spirit Island (optional).
Experience the Columbia Icefield
After your Journey Through the Clouds train ride, you can travel from Jasper to the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier.
As part of this extraordinary experience, you will ride on the Ice Explorer, an all-terrain vehicle that will take you on the Athabasca Glacier, a sheet of ice which is more than 10,000 years old. As part of the sightseeing tour, you can walk on the glacier and touch this ancient piece of ice.
After your trip on the glacier, you can then explore beyond nature’s edge on the glass-floored walkway of the Columbia Icefield Skywalk as it travels along the cliff’s edge. From the walkway, you’ll enjoy unrivalled views of the glacier.
As you travel to the Columbia Icefield, you will be taken along the Icefields Parkway, one of the most scenic roads in the world.
ALSO READ: What to expect onboard Rocky Mountaineer
Legends of Jasper
This excursion usually lasts around 90 minutes, exploring Jasper’s legendary past and its must-see scenery. You will be transported around in a vintage-style 1930s automobile whilst the tour guides will share incredible stories about Jasper, recounting the amazing events that helped shape the mountain town.
As part of this excursion, you can stop at Jasper’s most famous natural attractions, such as the Athabasca River, Maligne Lookout, Pyramid Lake, and Patricia Lake.
This guide looks at some of the highlights you can enjoy along the Journey Through the Clouds route and the variety of excursions you can enjoy as part of your holiday. If you want to experience this and are interested in holidays to Canada, you can speak to one of our experts, and they will help to plan a package that includes all the bits you want to do.
For more tips, guides, and advice, visit our blog.