The Canadian Rockies are an unspoiled masterpiece of nature that is too often overlooked by visitors to the North American West. While countless tourists annually flood Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, the Canadian Rockies continue to provide unmatched majestic beauty without the excessive crowds. But the environment is rugged and much of the area can only be explored by one who is an expert hiker in the peak of health and fitness.
Unless you take the train.
And not just any train, but the Rocky Mountaineer luxury service that takes passengers from the shores of Vancouver to the breathtaking vistas of Jasper and Banff. Rocky Mountaineer is a privately owned rail service that runs four journeys along the Canadian Pacific Railway. Originally built in the 1880’s, the Canadian Pacific winds from coast to coast along Canada’s southern border. The portion used for Rocky Mountaineer’s tourist service includes several hundred miles of track that criss-cross the mountains between British Columbia and Alberta provinces.
The routes take you through trails and overlooks that no road car can access. Trains are equipped with oversized windows and glass roofing to provide a panoramic view for every passenger. Two meals are served during the day as skilled tour guides narrate the beautiful scenery passing all around. After a full day of travel, passengers disembark with brief transportation to luxury hotels near the train line.
The decision not to have a sleeper car experience makes sense. Rocky Mountaineer is primarily a sightseeing company that operates across a fairly limited geographic area. That means there is never any hurry and, thus, no need to travel overnight (when sightseeing is impossible). Passengers end up with a more comfortable overnight stay and a chance to explore away from the train. Along those lines, Rocky Mountaineer also arranges particular excursions that include enormous arctic glaciers and a helicopter tour.
Prices are steep and reflect the exclusivity and unique nature of these train tours. But if the natural beauty of the West is something that interests you, then there is literally nothing that can compare to a train trip along rail lines that date back to the 19th century and bring you face-to-face with nature.