If you’re thinking about taking a trip to see the Canadian Rockies on Rocky Mountaineer, don’t think any further, just book it. Now that I have experienced it for myself, I can honestly say it is the trip of a lifetime. And there’s no better time than during Canada’s 150th anniversary.
Let me back up for a moment. Way back. When I was a little girl, I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, and my grandmother used to take me to Baltimore on the train for the day. We’re not talking the Metro, but a real passenger train from the B & O Railroad.
Baltimore was very different then, with beautifully decorated shop windows lining the crowded streets. It was like a mini New York City, and to a little girl, it was magical. And though I remember the city with fondness, it was the train journey that made it unforgettable.
I’ve had one other experience on a train when my oldest daughter was a baby. We traveled from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford, Florida on our way to Disney World. Again, it was such a special experience I will never forget.
See the Canadian Rockies on Rocky Mountaineer
To say traveling on Rocky Mountaineer is above and beyond those experiences would be an understatement. If you are looking for a luxurious journey with gourmet food, amazing wine and cocktails, and over-the-top service, this is the trip you want to book.
Experiencing all this while having a view of the breathtaking Canadian Rockies makes Rocky Mountaineer pretty spectacular. Take a look.
My trip was the First Passage to the West, beginning in Vancouver, stopping in Kamloops, and ending in Banff. In talking to friends and readers, many people didn’t know that you have time to explore the different areas on the Rocky Mountaineer route. This was a huge part of the trip for me as I had never been to this part of Canada.
Another feature of the Rocky Mountaineer most people don’t realize is that your trip is all inclusive, meaning ALL:
- Dining onboard the train
- Activities and Tours
- Luggage handling
You have a choice of Rocky Mountaineer Gold Leaf or Silver Leaf service. I had the opportunity to see both, and though both are wonderful, I have to recommend the Gold Leaf service.
This will truly be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. You’ll be given other optional services when you book, so you can make this journey perfect for you.
I really didn’t have to do anything except sit back and be pampered by the staff and hosts of Rocky Mountaineer. Friends, this is the way to see Western Canada!
I flew into Vancouver to begin my journey and discovered it is an amazing city, one that I definitely plan to see again. The Vancouver Fairmont Hotel is fabulous, from the luxurious rooms to the delicious food in the restaurant to the location, right in the middle of everything you want to see and do. (Tip: Do NOT miss breakfast! You’re welcome!)
Our day in Vancouver was about exploration. We toured Vancouver’s North Shore and Harbour on a Zodiac with Sewell’s Marina for great views of harbor seals and eagles.
We had lunch at the charming Bay Moorings which was fantastic. Just look at the seafood salad!
And dinner at The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant was crazy good.
Later in the day we found the best 360º view, 553 feet above the city at the Harbour Centre.
After a restful night thanks to the Vancouver Fairmont, we got an early start to board the Rocky Mountaineer. I’m actually surprised I slept at all because I was so excited to see the train!
We were welcomed by the entire crew of Rocky Mountaineer with an All Aboard! toast to celebrate the beginning of the journey. A bagpiper played and guests chatted with one another which just added to the excitement.
My new friend Dynie and I were ready to board!
I was already in awe when a group of the Rocky Mountaineer team stood on the side of the tracks and gave us a sendoff!
Though I had seen photos of the train, nothing compares to seeing the luxury first-hand. The seats are so comfortable and roomy and there’s a tray that folds up in front of you for drinks and snacks. A large pocket in the seat in front of you holds a Rocky Mountaineer magazine, the Mile Post newspaper for you to follow the map, as well as a catalog of souvenirs. (Tip: There’s a cookbook!)
Spending the day rolling through the Canadian Rocky Mountains was bliss for me. I must admit, I wasn’t expecting the food to be so incredible, and I’m honestly still wondering if there are elves who secretly help in the kitchen!
We were able to meet Chef Jean Pierre Guerin to discuss meal preparation and learned that though the sauces are prepared in advance, most of the cooking, including the baking, is done right on the train.
We took a very short tour of the area where meals are prepared, but how they create such amazing dishes in such a small space still surprises me. The short ribs were amazing.
At the end of our first day on the train, we arrived in Kamloops, a city in British Columbia where the North and South Thompson rivers converge. Be sure to take a walk and visit some of the shops and local restaurants.
The 6:30 am board time reminded me to make it an early night, and our stay at the Sandman Signature Hotel (just steps from the train) was perfect for a good night’s sleep.
Rocky Mountaineer seems to think of everything, and one of those small details was rotating meal times. On the first day aboard the train, I was in the first group, which meant we were first to go to breakfast and lunch.
On the second day, we had our meals at the second seating. But don’t worry. The staff at Rocky Mountaineer doesn’t let you go hungry (or thirsty!) A lovely scone service was provided to the later group before breakfast as well as a snack before lunch.
The views were absolutely breathtaking on both days of the trip, but sharing them with new friends made it even more fun. We saw eagles, elk, and gorgeous waterfalls and bridges.
The first car keeps their eye out for special sightings, and at one point we were told there was a grizzly bear up ahead. You can only imagine the unbridled joy of our group seeing that grizzly watching us as we rolled by! I wish I had been more prepared, but at least I caught it!
We arrived a little later than expected as the freight trains take precedence on the tracks and we had to wait for them to pass in a couple of places. I’ve never been so grateful to be late as I could have stayed on the train for another few hours if it were up to me!
We arrived in Banff at about 8 pm, just in time to check-in to the Moose Hotel & Suites. A rustic hotel with upscale amenities, this is where I’m telling my sister to stay when she visits Banff.
My sister skis a lot in Whistler, and I can’t wait to tell her about Banff. Less crowded, less expensive, and right in Banff National Park, this little city has everything you could need and small town charm.
Saltlik Steak House is off the hook delicious, and with so many choices it was hard to decide where to begin. The bison was exquisite and the calamari so light and tender.
They know how to make the perfect martini, too.
I loved the atmosphere with a crowd at the bar watching a hockey game and the staff truly at your beck and call making sure you have a great time. This is one stop you don’t want to miss when in Banff.
Of course, if you’ve looked into visiting Banff National Park, I’m sure you’ve heard that the views of Lake Louise are impressive. As the lake was still partially frozen, we didn’t get to see the famous reflection view of the lake. We did ride the gondola though, and the view was still pretty magnificent.
Lunch at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise was fabulous, and the views, even from inside the restaurant, were truly stunning.
We ended our trip with dinner at the gorgeous Eden restaurant at the Rimrock Resort, which was not only delicious but an experience in itself. These delicious scallops with saffron garlic purée, hollandaise and edamame were divine.
The views, again, were unbelievably picturesque, and I was told you can sometimes see the Northern Lights from this area, which would be amazing from Eden.
After six days seeing this part of Canada, especially the time aboard Rocky Mountaineer, I was sad to head home, and I’m already thinking about another trip. With four routes and different journeys along each one, there is a lot to see. I’m thinking I’d like to see one of the Coastal Passages next.
How about you? Have you looked into a Rocky Mountaineer journey? I’ll be sharing more in the coming days and would love to see your comments!