Any train travel enthusiast will tell you—the Canadian Rockies are a bucket list trip. River canyons, alpine lakes, snow-capped limestone peaks, black (and even grizzly) bear sightings—it’s all possible in that roughly 1,000-mile stretch of land from the Canadian Prairies to the Pacific Coast. And there’s no better way to enjoy all that natural beauty than from the seat of a luxurious, glass-domed Rocky Mountaineer train.
What makes these journeys so extraordinary? From my experience, after an unforgettable “Passage to the West” journey last summer, here are a couple of reasons to get on board with a unique Canadian railway adventure.
Luxury means never having to move your luggage. I knew before I even set foot on the train that it would be a relaxing experience. This was because my luggage was collected from my hotel and moved to my train. With the hassles of travel eliminated—not only are there no bags to worry about, since they are dropped off inside each hotel room at night, but meals are regularly offered and nightly hotel accommodations are handled for you—I and my fellow passengers settled in for four days of unimpeded relaxation.
Even the onboarding process is made appealing—guests are treated to coffee, music and a celebratory whistle-blowing “All aboard!” call with conductor photo ops before stepping inside the elegant trains. Works of art, they are simultaneously charming, in a retro, nostalgic sort of way for those longing for the heyday of train travel, and sophisticated—sleek and smooth-going with modern features for your ultimate comfort. The two options for travel are equally appealing, but the bi-level ‘GoldLeaf’ rather than the single-level ‘SilverLeaf’ comes with more staff on hand to answer any question you may have and constantly refill your wine glass.
Anyone who thinks gazing at scenery for days on end sounds boring hasn’t been through the Canadian Rockies. On the route that I took, starting in Vancouver with overnight stops in Kamloops and Banff, no day or hour was the same. Lush green landscapes were followed by desert-like settings followed by snowy peaks. The cirque glaciers of Rocky Mountain National Park were a sight to behold, and the crashing waters of Hell’s Gate in Fraser’s Canyon displayed the beauty and breadth of nature. Safe in our train car, reclined in comfortable seats, we could celebrate nature’s bounty without getting dirty; we could spot bears without worrying about them seeing us. And the overnight stops at different towns in the Rockies gave us the opportunity to explore on foot if we wished.