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TRAVEL BLOG

Advisor Trip: The Rocky Mountaineer

Santa Barbara Travel Advisor, Nancy Herrmann, took the two day journey aboard Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer this Summer. This comfortable and luxurious train ride is a wonderful way to journey through the Canadian Rockies. Below, Nancy shares her experience, helpful travel tips, and photos of her journey.

Rocky Mountaineer in Exshaw, Alberta

Rocky Mountaineer in Exshaw, Alberta

ROUTE: I took the “Journey Through the Clouds” from Jasper to Kamloops to Vancouver and down to Seattle. I will start by saying: it was the most beautiful train ride of my life. The observation car allows a comfortable way to see the incredible scenery of Western Canada. The train and views are in the league of the dome cars of Anchorage and Denali, Alaska, with the big-time landscapes. Our itinerary worked with the direction we were traveling, but I would recommend going the opposite way– starting in Vancouver and ending in Jasper. From there you can drive along the scenic highway by motorcoach or self-drive to Lake Louise and Banff.

Four routes of the Rocky Mountaineer. Nancy traveled from Jasper to Kamloops to Vancouver to Seattle.

Four routes of the Rocky Mountaineer. Nancy traveled from Jasper to Kamloops to Vancouver to Seattle.

TRAVEL TIP: Travel from Vancouver to Jasper to end with the “wow factor” of mountainous Jasper.

Another interesting route is the Rainforest to Gold Rush—Vancouver – Whistler – Quesnel – Jasper –-perfect to see the great variety of the Canadian West. Whichever route you go, it is likely to be the best train ride you’ve ever had. The track passes along the coast and through the Canadian Rockies.

rocky-mountaineer-nancy

Nancy smiles for a photo in front of a high mountain lake

DINING: Meals and drinks are included in the price of the journey. However, Gold Leaf service provides a much better dining experience and is recommended. The meals are the same, but Gold Leaf service comes with a downstairs dining room, allowing you to get up and stretch. Silver Leaf members will dine in their seat. It is worth noting that you cannot walk from car to car during the trip.

Travel Tip: Drive or take the motorcoach from Jasper to Lake Louise and Banff for a few night stay, then fly out of Calgary.

Serenity on Lake Louis

Serenity on Lake Louis, accessed by scenic drive from Jasper or by train on the Coastal Passage and First Passage to the West

JASPER: Jasper is a tiny, tiny little town with a few restaurants and souvenir shops to support Jasper National Park. It reminded me of an old west town, with art galleries and gift shops. If you spend a few days here, take the Jasper SkyTram to the summit of Whistlers Mountain for a beautiful view, or drive the scenic route to Banff or Lake Louise.

KAMLOOPS: Nice farm to table restaurants and a fairly big city considering it is in the middle of western Canada. It is a beautiful town sitting at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers, with Kamloops Lake nearby.

VANCOUVER: We started our journey in Jasper, but would have started in Vancouver instead. This beautiful city with mountains and the Pacific would be a wonderful few days spent. Take a bike around Stanley Park, go to the top of the Vancouver Lookout, and visit the market on Granville Island.

Aerial View of Vancouver, Canada

Aerial View of Vancouver, Canada

SERVICE & HOTEL PACKAGE: There are two options– Silver Leaf and Gold Leaf. I chose the Gold Leaf package, which I recommend, as it provides vastly greater comfort and meal options, including meal service downstairs in the dining car and a seat in the observation car with a glass dome roof. There is also an option to upgrade the Gold Leaf Package to the Deluxe, which includes a hotel upgrade to the world famous Banff Springs Hotel. I found the Rimrock Resort Hotel to be comfortable, but it needs an upgrade as it feels quite out dated.

TRAVEL TIP: Choose the Gold Leaf Package, and upgrade your hotel if it is within budget to access the dining car, 2nd-floor seating, and a stay at the World Famous Banff Springs Hotel.

rocky-mountaineer-roof

Picture of our train car and Gold Leaf seating. Photo by Nancy Herrmann

WHAT TO AVOID: The Amtrak stretch of the trip was a rickety, uncomfortable 4 hour ride and a big let down after the comfort of the Rocky Mountaineer. I would recommend taking the ferry from Vancouver to Seattle, or just flying straight to Vancouver and spend a few nights to explore this beautiful city.

All said and done, the Rocky Mountaineer offers a great experience, especially for those who will not be itching to hike or swim in the mountains and lakes the trip introduces. If you are taking a cruise that begins or ends in Vancouver, I would highly recommend spending a few days on the Rocky Mountaineer.

rocky-mountaineer-nancyI would love to chat with you personally about the experience and answer any questions you may have. Please contact me by phone (805.869.1100) or email nherrmann@sbtravel.com. Learn more about Nancy on her Travel Profile