Rocky Mountaineer Train Trip
When you talk about the best life experiences, Canada’s Rocky Mountains are one of the first to come to mind. Travelling through these mountains is a visual feast with clean pungent mountain air, brilliant colours, soaring snow capped peaks that your mind can barely comprehend.
Whether Summertime or Xmas, or whether you’re coming from London UK, China, Los Angeles or Toronto, The Rocky Mountaineer promises to be one of world’s best train trips and travel experiences of a lifetime.
While Cuba, Costa Rica, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Hawaii, and San Diego beckon, in summer, there is no comparing the experience of travelling from Vancouver to Calgary which happens to be two of the best, modern cities on the planet. Your expereince will be so ridiculously rich, you won’t want to sleep.
The award-winning Rocky Mountaineer offers over 65 Canadian vacation packages and four unique rail routes. This world-renowned, luxurious train travels by daylight through the wild beauty of Canada’s West and is the best way to experience the majestic Canadian Rockies.
The company has continually improved the unique variety of vacation packages and offers 65 today. The Rocky Mountaineer Rocky Mountain tour I’m describing below is a whirlwind tour but you can go back in future sometime by car and do a 2 week immersion in 3 great Canadian Rockies routes that include Lake Louise, Banff Park, Rogers Pass, Yoho Park, and the Okanagan.
The RM doesn’t go through the full length of Lake Okanagan. I’m mentioning the Okanagan, because you find out how beautiful it is, you’ll want to come back and visit that region by car. All part of an incredible Western Canadian vacation.
Dreaming About Soaring Mountains
Your head will be swimming with visions of Rocky Mountain peaks as you close your eyes for your first night’s rest. It’s almost too much to take in, but so nice to have your usual dream imagery replaced by soaring mountain peaks, vast valleys miles wide, blue sky, turquoise and jade-colored lakes, and massive snow-capped rocky ridges.
It makes living seem so grand and puts nature into perspective. You’ll understand this when you visit either by car or train.
The Rocky Mountaineer offers a variety of train treks where you can sip wine, nibble on gourmet food while you watch some of the world’s most incredible scenery float by your panoramic window view. Its major treks are from Vancouver to Calgary, and reverse, and also the Vancouver to Whistler run.
You can see the choices of routes you have on the map below. The trip from Vancouver to my old hometown, Calgary, is the ultimate journey for siteseers. You’re going from the Pacific Ocean through the coastal mountains, the huge Selkirk mountains and on into the “Shining Mountains” as the natives called them. Up an down mountain passes, past incredible glaciers and forested valleys, on through the Okanagan Valley right on through Lake Louise, Banff, and to Calgary.
Historic Lake Louise is Everybody’s Favourite
Yes, Lake Louise is beautiful. Not sure how long they’ll give you to visit, but this is one of the major tourist draws in the mountains. Chateau Lake Louise is an amazing hotel. When you come back for your next visit you’ll want to climb the hiking trails and have tea at the tea house at Lake Agnes (7000 feet).
Moraine Lake is accessed via the same road as Lake Louise. The color of the water is more blue and the trails are great. Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks is on the back of the old 20 dollar bills. A spectacular place with stunning views. Next year I want to go right up to the top of Parker Ridge and maybe even walk to Lake Louise or even to Banff. A rugged challenge but something to look forward to.
Banff to Jasper is Incredible – But not on the RM’s Routes
What’s sad about the train routes they have as that there isn’t one between Banff and Jasper which is one of the most scenic routes in the world. National Geographic has it as one of their top 50 drives of the world. And you can drive from Banff to Jasper of course, and even ride on your bike if you’ve got lots of energy (180 miles). There are bike tours that go this whole route and other incredible routes to Vancouver.
But wow, the soaring ice capped peaks, fresh mountain air, and spectacular green blue lakes, and the rivers and wildlife will really astound you. For anyone who loves nature, this is a place of fascination and wonder.
Banff is Really Special. Great restaurants, nice atmosphere of a small mountain city, gondola rides, and the Banff Springs Hotel is one of the most beautiful in the world. Lots of history.
Back in 85, I rode on this highway north from Lake Louise by myself. One of those rights of passage things for guys. Yes, it’s scary but exhilarating. How would you like to climb up this mountain?
Visiting the Rockies is how you get rejuvenated. This isn’t just a trip to Parry Sound we’re talking about here. This is immersion into a place where the earth’s crust was crushed and folded upward, at an immensity that is hard to comprehend (no, I’m not smokin weed). I can’t think of any place that’s more romantic either. Forget Cuba, Mexico, or the Bahamas.
If you’re married and haven’t taken your spouse anywhere for years on end, this has the scenery, experiences, shopping, and movement that will excite both of you. It’ll put some romance back into your lives, so do it! You can still book for this fall and see the incredible fall colours of the Rockies.
Get your girl away from everybody else, on a trip where it’s just you and her together against a fantastic natural and rugged backdrop. This is where you win her heart. Not like some wimpy Club Med thing. You wanna compete with airhead bikini guys?
Okay, then plan your itinerary. Nothing beats the Rockies. (By the way, the Okanagan Valley is hot during summer with plenty of nice beaches and water activities. That’s where all the fruit is grown — dry hot conditions perfect for peaches, grapes, nectarines, and pears. Do some wine tours and enjoy the beaches when you do the car trek thing next year starting in Calgary through the Okanagan, and out to Vancouver via the Coquihalla highway).
Then it’s onto Jasper, Alberta, a neat, small mountain town. Parks Canada is trying desperately to keep people out of this place. Not because they care about ecology, they’re just morons on a power kick. The fact is, when money comes in, they’ll have more resources to take care of wildlife which is expensive to manage. down in Banff, Parks Canada has worked to take the Elk and all other wildlife away when that’s what tourists come to see. So Parks Canada is the tourist’s enemy.
Back to the train trip, you leave Kamloops and the Okanagan and head up through Revelstoke, to Rogers Pass, the highest pass in the Canadian Rockies at 4360 feet. There’s an interpretive centre that’s great to visit. And there are trails to walk if you should get some time do walk them. Remember, there’s bears up here.
Going the other way from east to west, I got to experience this transition when riding my 10 speed. I sped up to 50 miles per hour down winding passes, through Revelstoke, and through some scary tunnels. The train takes you on a similar trek near the rivers (world class white water rafting) going west to east of course. I actually took a video driving down through the pass, but you just don’t get real “live” feeling from it. You have to do it in person. It’s exciting.
Next stop is Kamploops which is dry and hilly, but an important part of BC’s geography to experience. Delta Hotel’s Sun Peaks resort is near Kamloops. Cheap rates/packages and you can do everything there including mountain biking on their mountain. Delta Hotels was one of my major clients and I had a laugh with their web marketing manager Piero about Sun Peak’s rates which were $74 a night at the time.
Then you’ll go through the beautiful towns of Merit and Hope. For drivers, you get there via the new highway called the Coquihalla. There are some eery passes on this new highway and you can reach scary speeds if you coast along. The Rocky Mountaineer takes its own path further from inhabited areas like the highway. A completely unique vantage point through the coastal mountains and very beautiful when you get near Vancouver and the water.
Finally you arrive in beautiful Vancouver. From there you can take the Whistler trip by car along the Sea to Sky Highway or by train. By rental car, you can stop and enjoy the scenery and waterfalls and other sights. Spectacular.
Finally, you arrive in Vancouver. No city has so many different perspectives which probably explains Vancouver’s mystique. Regarded by many as the best city in the world. Ya, it could beat San Diego unless you need 20 degree temps every day.
Check out the Rocky Mountaineer journey yourself. They have lots of different routes and destinations to explore. You won’t be disappointed by this trip.