(Tales Told From The Road” continues its series of “Travel Canada” stories highlighting destinations and attractions from sea-to-sea.)
Now that our “Travel Canada” series has completed its tour of British Columbia, it’s time to head to the Canadian Rockies and the gateway cities of Calgary and Edmonton which lie just to the east.
Two rail companies can carry you east: The Rocky Mountaineer, an excursion train that runs between British Columbia and Alberta, and Via Rail Canada, which offers coast-to-coast rail service.
The Rocky Mountaineer gives you four choices for traveling by day along the sea to mountain corridor, while spending nights sleeping in a hotel bed rather than a train berth.
The “First Passage to the West” route runs between Vancouver, Banff and Calgary, while the “Journey Through the Clouds” line links Vancouver and Jasper. You can ride either westbound or eastbound, with an overnight stop at Kamloops, in central British Columbia. Trains depart three times a week from the end of April through early October.
The “Rainforest to Gold Rush” route runs through British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin region and connects Jasper to Whistler, north of Vancouver, and site of 2010 Winter Olympics events, with a sleep-over en route in Quesnel. The “Whistler Sea to Sky Climb” runs between North Vancouver and Whistler, Thursday-Monday. Trains travel these two routes from mid-May to the end of September.
Railroading in Style
There are three classes of service on all Rocky Mountaineer routes except the “Whistler Sea to Sky Climb”:
- GOLDLEAF SERVICE: Reserved seating in bi-level, glass domed coaches, with panoramic views on the upper level and a private dining room on the main level, where specially prepared à la carte breakfasts and lunches are served.
- SILVERLEAF SERVICE: Available on all “First Passage to the West” trains between Vancouver, and Banff in a single-level dome coach, with assigned seating and hot meals served at your seat.
- REDLEAF SERVICE: Assigned, spacious, comfortable reclining seats, large picture windows, and at-your-seat meal service, in a non-smoking, air-conditioned traditional rail coach.
In all classes of service, Rocky Mountaineer staff provide commentary on the history and ecology of each regions that the train passes through.
Here’s what your rail travel experience would be like in each class of service:
Sightseeing Excursions & Packages
In addition to rail travel over its four train routes, the Rocky Mountaineer offers over 45 vacation packages. For example, the 5 day/4 night “Canadian Rockies Excursion” includes a helicopter tour and a tour of the Banff area, while the “Classic First Passage to the West Vacation, Vancouver – Calgary” package includes overnight stays in Vancouver and Calgary, as well as the one-night stopover en route at Kamloops.
Several of the “Rocky Mountaineer & Alaskan Cruise Vacations” include an excursion train ride and a cruise on the Inside Passage between British Columbia and Southeast Alaska. If you want to travel on your own by car after the train ride, you can book a “Rail and Drive” package.
“Circle Rail” packages combine two or three Rocky Mountaineer rail routes into a single trip with overnight stays at several locations along the train lines.
To enjoy a scenic train ride through the Rockies, and explore more of Canada by rail, book a Rocky Mountaineer “Coast to Coast” package which includes travel on one of the Rocky Mountaineer excursion trains and passenger trains operated by Via Rail Canada between Jasper and Canada’s Atlantic coast.
The Condé Nast Traveler 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards rated the Rocky Mountaineer among the “Top 5 Trains in the World,” and in the same year Travel + Leisure magazine called a rail journey aboard the Rocky Mountaineer “One of the Best Life Changing Trips.”
Now let’s go for a virtual ride on the Rocky Mountaineer:
Ready to take a real rail journey? Click here for more details about Rocky Mountaineer fares, routes and packages, and to book your rail vacation online.
(Photos and videos provided courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer. Next time on “Travel Canada” we’ll ride Via Rail Canada’s “The Canadian” between Vancouver and Toronto.)
Update (April 19, 2012):
Since this story ran two days ago, Tales Told From The Road has learned that a contract dispute between the rail company and the union for some onboard employees arose in June 22, 2011, that the company replaced those employees, and that the dispute remains unresolved. This “Message to Our Guests” from Ed Baklor, Executive Vice President of Guest Services for the Rocky Mountaineer states that
“… you may encounter a few picketers outside our stations during select train departures and arrivals. It has been business as usual and we continue to receive high guest satisfaction scores from our guests. In fact, we received the most awards for our service excellence in 2011 than any other year in our company’s history.
“If you have any further questions, please contact our Sales Centre at 1.800.665.7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Before booking transportation, tours, vacation packages, or lodging for any trip, Tales Told From The Road highly recommends that travelers carefully read the travel provider’s written policies on cancellations and refunds, and consider purchasing trip insurance to cover any non-refundable deposits or payments, or other expenses that might be incurred due to trip interruption, cancellation, delay, or illness or injury.
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