The Rocky Mountaineer isn’t just a rail journey, it is an all-out adventure. From the comfort of the train’s dome cars, you’ll travel through Canada’s west, ambling through mountain towns and National Parks, all the while keeping your eyes peeled for bald eagles above or bears and elk ahead. The sights you’ll see along the way are too many to list and too impressive to try and explain, but here are just a handful of the highlights that await on the Rocky Mountaineer ‘First Passage to the West’ journey.
The seaport city in British Columbia has it all, from cloud piercing skyscrapers to a famously scenic seawall and the wilderness of Grouse Mountain. Meet the resident grizzlies, Grinder and Coola, catch a lumberjack show, shop, hike, take a sky ride or zip line, cycle along the waterfront or run away to Granville Island, where the steely skyscrapers make way for micro breweries, quaint craft shops and the wildly popular Public Market.
The tracks of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Canadian National Railway (CNR) run side by side across the gushing Fraser River below. The views are incredible and the bridges are a true feat of engineering; the CPR was the first cantilever railway bridge in North America.
Peer down into the swirling blue water of the Gunnison River below and up towards the sandy cliff faces above. Some of the oldest exposed rock formations in the world are here, forming a dramatic backdrop that pauses each time the Rocky Mountaineer plunges into tunnels that cut straight through the cliffs.
Hoodoos in the Canadian Rockies
Found outside Kamloops and again as you near Banff, these skinny spires were left behind from the Ice Age. Legend has it that the pillars are capable of wizardry, hauling boulders at passing people to turn them to stone. Fortunately, you’re safe and sound in the comfort of the Rocky Mountaineer!
Slicing through the stunningly beautiful Selkirk Mountains, Rogers Pass is considered one of the greatest mountain crossings in Canada. Trains have climbed Rogers Pass since 1885, travelling through Glacier National Park and its vast expanses of alpine forest, skyward peaks and ice fields.
The Rocky Mountaineer is now the only train to take visitors through this almost 10-mile-long maze of tunnels. It took 1,000 workers just 20 months to build the Spiral Tunnels, which double back on themselves twice, tunnelling deep into the mountains and crossing the river on both sides. Prepare to be amazed!
If you’ve seen photographs of Lake Louise, your first thought was probably something along the lines of “that water can’t possibly be that blue…” Well, it is. In fact, during the summer months, the bright turquoise lake is perhaps even brighter than it looks in the photos. A highlight of any Rocky Mountaineer journey, Lake Louise shimmers almost iridescent, reflecting the pines, the mountains, the snow and the sky on its surface. It is the jewel of the Canadian Rockies and with an overnight stay at the Banff Springs Hotel just a few miles away, you’ll have time take a closer look.
Banff National Park
The third oldest national park in the world promises the perfect ending to an iconic once-in-a-lifetime rail journey. Take a walk in the alpine resort town at the heart of Banff National Park or venture just 15 minutes outside its borders and you’ll find yourself in the striking Canadian wilderness.