Canada's Rocky Mountaineer is such a beautiful journey. Since you are onboard the train for consecutive days, I would not recommend it to the most active, adventurous clients; however, I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy sitting back and enjoying amazing scenery and wildlife, and who like to be wined and dined enroute. I was on the “First Passage to the West” journey which begins in Vancouver and ends in Calgary.
Vancouver was a wonderful start to the trip: a very beautiful city with so much to do! I definitely need to go back and discover more of Vancouver as we just overnighted here. At 6:30AM a bellman came to our door to collect our luggage and by 7AM we were off to the train station. The Rocky Mountaineer welcome at the train station was very beautiful. They had all their staff outside the train greeting everyone, with a kilt-bedekced bagpipe player. We were to be traveling in the Silver Leaf class, but I visited the Gold Leaf car so to see the difference in these classes of service.
The Gold Leaf cars have two decks. Upstairs is the seating with dome windows that provide 360-degree views from your seat. On the lower level is the dining car. Next to the dining tables is a side area with benches and some tables, where people can stand and chat and hangout at. The vestibule in the Gold Leaf is a perfect size so many people can be outside at once to enjoy the fresh air and scenery during the journey. The Silver Leaf service is one story with partial glass domes. All eating and hanging out and sightseeing is done from your seat, unless you would like to walk around or go outside to the vestibule. The vestibule in the Silver Leaf, however, is much smaller than on the Gold Leaf, only peermitting a few people to be outside at once.
Throughout the journey we had two hosts who were amazing. They would tell us stories about areas we were passing by, and they kept us laughing 85% of the time with their humor. They also served our meals. The food on board is spectacular. I did not have one meal that disappointed. They also kept all the drinks flowing for those who were drinking. The service was an A+ in all aspects. And the views – the views were remarkable. Our first leg, from Vancouver to Kamloops, was very pretty; however, the next day was above and beyond.
Guests don'e sleep aboard the train -- the train stops and accommodations are included at hotels along the way. Once in Kamloops, we checked into our rooms at the Thompson Hotel and Conference Centre, where our suitcases awaited us. It was convenient not having to worry about lugging our luggage around the whole trip. They always took care of this for us at each stop. We had a free evening in Kamloops, where I met up with my best friend I had not seen in 3 years, who now lives in Kamloops! She walked me around the small town and I was impressed: a beautiful park down by the water with a gorgeous walking path, and a quaint “downtown.”
The next morning we left our luggage in our room which was collected later and taken to the next hotel. There is no room for luggage on board, so Rocky Mkountaineer has a coach that collects everyone’s luggage and drives it to our next destination, where they place it iny our room before you arrive. This always worked out so perfectly and was very seamless.
We boarded the train and began our long day's journey to Banff; the scenery is so spectacular. The hosts kept us laughing once again, and filled our bellies with delicious food. The views of the Canadian Rockies are breathtaking: from snowy mountains to rivers and lots of greenery and eagles flying overhead. We learned a lot of interesting history from our hosts. Guests onboard became more familiar, we mingled more, and everyone was talkative and it was fun. I went outside a lot to the vestibule, letting the cool breeze hit your face made the experience feel more alive.
Once we arrived into beautiful Banff and the end of our rail journey, we all had a long day and ended up going to the spa and going to bed early. The Banff Caribou Lodge was the best hotel we stayed in on the trip. It was so very cute and cozy. The next morning at breakfast we decided to visit Lake Louise. We booked a private transfer for that afternoon, then took a nice stroll around the town and went to the hot springs, which was a big hot community pool. After an AMAZING lunch at the Maple Leaf, which I would highly recommend, I checked out some hotels in the area. The Rimrock Resort Hotel is absolutely beautiful. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is historic and absolutely beautiful as well. From the inside out, this hotel looks like a castle, and the rooms are older, castle-like looking. The Rimrock is a more modern hotel, so depending on one's tastes, either hotel can be a great choice.
Once we got to Lake Louise we did a quick walk throughout the beautiful hotel. But the view!!! The view was unlike any other. The lake was mostly frozen, but still it was absolutely gorgeous. When it is not frozen, the color of that lake is jaw dropping; we saw a bit of that where the lake had melted close to the shore. And then those mountains as a backdrop!! On a scenic route back we saw a grizzly bear cub.
That evening in Banff we had dinner at The Park Distillery, a newer restaurant that has campfire-inspired cooking and where they distill their own spirits in-house. The food and drink was absolutely amazing. The service and ambience was so warm and inviting, and I would highly recommend this restaurant.
The next morning we boarded a motorcoach for a tour around Banff. We visited a huge waterfall, Bow Falls, where the motorcoach stopped for us to all get out and go explore for about 15 minutes. It was a nice change being on motorcoach, since we were able to make stops and get out and do a little exploring on the way. We saw some Hoodoos, went to Lake Minnewanka, and saw some black bears. One stopped and put on a show by scratching his back on a tree in front of us before disappearing with the others into the trees.
Our journey continued to Calgary. The views were again magnificent. Before arriving in Calgary, enjoyed a Summit Helicopter tour! This was such a wonderful experiencetaking in the breathtaking scenery from a birds eye view. Once we arrived in Calgary, we checked in at the International Hotel and Suites, where every room is a suite. We enjoyed dinner, and then went to the Calgary Tower for great views up high above the city -- a nice way to end the trip.
The Rocky Mountaineer is an amazing experience. The service is exceptional, the food beyond delightful, and the scenery magnificent. I would recommend the Gold Leaf service because there's more room to move around, the vestibule is a lot larger, allowing more people to be outside during the rial journey, and the 360-degree glass dome car is just magnificent. The food, too, is even better, and the hotels you stay in are a step up from those used for Silver Leaf guests.
Associate Travel Planner