Blog, Travel Tips, & News

Traveling by Train in the Canadian Rockies

Traveling by Canadian Rockies-Featured Image-PP

In 2018 I did an Alaska cruise on Regent and piggybacked that sailing with an experience on Rocky Mountaineer for a train trip through the Canadian Rockies. Whether you do this as a stand-alone vacation, or in conjunction with an Alaskan cruise, this travel style definitely deserves a place on your bucket list…

Traveling by Train in the Canadian Rockies

Train travel has a lovely and romantic attraction that seems so enticing. There are various ways to travel by train, from riding through the countryside in Europe enjoying the scenery getting from place to place, to a few limited experiences of actually sleeping on the train during your travels, most notably seen in the ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ movies.

Rocky Mountaineer (RM) is company offering train travel in the Canadian Rockies, and while I have been totally enamored with this particular train travel option, I never felt like I quite ‘got it’. I used my Alaskan cruise from Vancouver to Seward a few years ago as my excuse to finally try RM for myself. I flew into Calgary and spent a few nights in Banff Alberta (with a side visit to Lake Louise for the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen) before embarking on my train journey.

I expected gorgeous scenery – even a brief review of the pictures of the area in Alberta and British Columbia assured me of that. But how does all this work, with the train, the hotels at night, the service? Magnificently.

Before I get into all the details, I want to mention that Rocky Mountaineer has two levels of service – SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf. GoldLeaf is the higher level service, where you travel in a two level, glass domed coach with full-length windows and exclusive dining room, with extensive gourmet meal offerings and service level. GolfLeaf was sold out when I booked (it usually sells out first), so I traveled in SilverLeaf, which is in a single level glass domed coach with oversized windows. It was a thoroughly lovely experience, which I believe you’ll find from my description of my trip, so I’m glad I have the perspective of traveling in SilverLeaf, but also doing an inspection of GoldLeaf with the conductor at the end of the journey.

The train ride starts early in the morning, with checking around 7am and departure at 7:30am. I was staying in the hotel Rocky Mountaineer uses in Banff, so they provided a transfer to the station (complementary even though I booked my hotel separately). It was an early 5:45am bags outside the door time, and that was the end of my dealing with luggage for a few days. We met for the transfer at 6:45am, where they had the luggage lined up for each of us to validate that our luggage was there, and then watch it be loaded into the bus. After that, my bags wondrously appeared in my hotel room at our stop for the evening, Kamloops.

Arriving at the train station, we boarded the train on a red carpet to then settle into an incredibly comfortable seat with huge windows. There was a large amount of legroom between my knees and the seat in front of me (easily more than a foot), so I think it would be spacious for any size person. The two hosts for our car introduced themselves, and started the first of many drink services as they passed out mimosas.  Just before pulling out of the station, with enjoyed the traditional Rocky Mountaineer morning toast with our mimosas – a perfect start to a fabulous day. {Photo is from RM, not me, because I was too busy drinking my mimosa to take pictures!}.

Shortly after starting our journey, they served breakfast, which I had selected from the daily menu offering breakfast and lunch options. Throughout my two days on Rocky Mountaineer, our two hosts were in our coach exclusively, plus other staff members and the conductor would also come through numerous times each day to check on us. The hosts were attentive, coming back to refill coffee, clear dishes. The bar cart came out around at 11am, with a very nice selection of wine, beer, cider and spirits. Hmmm, how about some Baileys in that coffee?

The trip included breakfast and lunch daily. The meals on the trip were excellent, with a different menu of options offered on the second day. Meals were served at my seat, and because of expansive area of the seats, this was quite comfortable.

Throughout the day the bar cart and snacks came through the car. After a few times of me ordering a white wine and a diet coke, when they would make another pass with the bar cart and get to me, they would say ”the usual?”

This whole experience has so many fascinating elements that it is too much for one article. Next week, more about the train experience in regard to wildlife, overnight stays, magic luggage, and great service.