North America

Rail Travel Through Western Canada

written by | Posted on January 1st, 2010

Rocky Mountaineer takes passengers on a journey through the golden age of rail.

There’s just something about rail travel that is purely magical, simply captivating and truly romantic—think “Murder on the Orient Express” (didn’t you always want to be one of the passengers on that train, albeit not the dead one?). Whether you’re hopping across the European continent, making your way across the towns and cities that dot the U.S., or voyaging through Singapore and Bangkok on the rails, train travel offers some of the best views the world has to offer. Next time clients want a real break, send them off on a rail journey…and consider Western Canada, with its rugged canyons, desert landscapes, shimmering lakes, cascading waterfalls and spectacular glaciers.

Rail travel, says Nancy Dery, manager of communications for the Canada-based Rocky Mountaineer rail company, “is a great way to see spectacular scenery, be pampered on board and also spend quality time reconnecting with loved ones without the distractions of cell phones.”

Without doubt, Rocky Mountaineer, with its four classic rail routes through Western Canada, knows how to offer a rail vacation experience that harks back to yesteryear and will have your clients putting their tech-infused gizmos on silent. Especially when you consider that this year the company is celebrating its 20-year anniversary with new themed experiences, a new logo, a newly launched, user-friendly website and new route names.

“The new route names,” explains Dery, “depict the unique scenery and highlights found along Rocky Mountaineer’s four different rail journeys.”

The rail journeys on board the much-admired Rocky Mountaineer train are indeed awe-inspiring, traversing some of the most stirring scenery in North America, and, as Dery points out, it’s no coincidence that most passengers spend most of their time on the train’s upper level, which offers panoramic views of the passing landscape.

“We are the only Canadian passenger rail service that operates during daylight hours, ensuring that none of the stunning scenery is missed,” notes Dery.

Rocky Mountaineer’s four legendary routes travel in both eastbound and westbound directions, and follow the historic train routes constructed over 100 years ago through Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies. There’s, for instance, the First Passage to the West route, which begins in Vancouver, overnights in Kamloops and ends in Banff (with extension into Calgary). Travelers will be following in the footsteps of 19th century explorers, winding through the fertile fields of the Fraser Valley, and viewing the towering peaks of the Coast Mountains before entering the Fraser Canyon. They’ll gasp at the thundering waters of Hell’s Gate—where the towering rock walls of the Fraser River plunge toward each other forcing the waters through a passage only 110 ft. wide. Then it’s on to historic Kamloops, gateway to the Interior of British Columbia, where passengers will overnight. The next morning, the train continues east through the vast ranchlands along the South Thompson River, past Craigellachie—where the Last Spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven—to then enter Rogers Pass, with its tunnels, snowsheds and glistening glaciers. One of the most exhilarating highlights of the trip, however, is the climb through the Spiral Tunnels—allowing the railway to gain vertical elevation in a relatively short horizontal distance—and over the Continental Divide into Banff National Park. Here, clients can opt to end their rail journey or they can continue on to the “Stampede City” of Calgary that same evening.

This 2-day journey on the company’s GoldLeaf Service starts at $1,229 pp and includes two breakfasts; two lunches; 1-night accommodations; rail station transfers in Kamloops; luggage delivery in Kamloops; and complimentary snacks and beverages served seat-side.

It’s not the stunning scenery alone, though, that will have your clients swooning. “Travelers book with us to experience the stunning Canadian Rockies, but after their trip,” says Dery, “they remember the onboard experience the most—the exceptional service, fascinating onboard commentary and the sumptuous bi-regional cuisine that has been created to celebrate the distinct character of Western Canada.”

New on the company’s roster are the GoldLeaf Themed Experiences, which Dery describes as an experience that breaks passenger’s 2-day rail journey between Vancouver and Banff and allows them to explore British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan region. “These Experiences will highlight one of the most beautiful and recognized areas of British Columbia for wine enthusiasts and golf lovers alike. The 8-day packages include a Wine Tasting or Golf Adventure theme with specific departure dates and combine an enhanced Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service experience with a multi-day stopover in the Okanagan.” Additionally, after disembarking the train in Banff, guests take a helicopter tour to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the landscape or partake in a round of golf on a world-class course in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies.