The Rocky Mountaineer Expertise – Vancouver to Banff

Do you like trains? Do you like them in that Sheldon Cooper method which you could’t get sufficient of them and it’s worthwhile to go on the last word prepare journey? Look no additional than the Rocky Mountaineer.

I’ve needed to take an epic prepare journey ever since watching Meg Ryan scarf down cheese in a luxurious automobile within the film French Kiss in 1995. It took me 24 years to get alone prepare journey, however I fulfilled my dream of consuming connoisseur cheese whereas sipping nice wine on a prepare!

A journey throughout the Canadian Rocky Mountains tops many an individual’s bucket listing.

Our fellow passengers have been celebrating anniversaries, birthdays and a few have been merely fulfilling their dream of witnessing the Canadian Rockies from the luxurious dome vehicles of the one in all a sort Rocky Mountaineer luxurious prepare.

Rocky Mountaineer Start in Vancouver

After we advised folks we have been happening a Canadian Rockies prepare journey many replied, “That’s my dream journey!”

So, if you’re contemplating taking a dream journey of your personal by means of the Rocky Mountains, here’s what you possibly can anticipate.

Pure Luxurious

Rocky Mountaineer accommodation Sutton place in Vancouver

A limo picked us up on the Vancouver airport and whisked us off to the Sutton Place in downtown Vancouver. I keep in mind being a Manufacturing Assistant within the Vancouver movie trade within the 90s the place I picked up many an actor at this actual lodge.

Right here we’re 20 years later staying on the place the place a few of my favourite film stars spent their time in Vancouver.

The view was excellent from our room.

When you have the time, we advise spending a few days exploring Vancouver. Having lived there prior to now, we solely flew within the night time earlier than our journey to be prepared for our 6:30 am decide up.

Effectively Oiled Machine

The Rocky Mountaineer Train

The Rocky Mountaineer has been in operation since 1990, so every little thing goes off with no hitch. At 6:00 am the bellhop was at our door to choose up our baggage.

Whereas having fun with a espresso within the foyer, we got our bag tags and advised that our baggage can be in our rooms ready for us once we arrive for our in a single day in Kamloops.

All we wanted for the day was our cameras, a windproof jacket, a lightweight sweater, and our sun shades.

What to pack for on the prepare:

There aren’t any overhead compartments so that you solely have the area under you at your seat. It’s sufficient for a small backpack. Here’s what we advise.

mild sweaterouter windproof jacketscarfcamera and phonecamera and cellphone chargers – there are retailers within the seatssunglassesmedication

We have been good to go!

The Practice Station

Piano Player at the rocky mountaineer train station.

After we arrived on the prepare station, we may really feel the joy and vitality within the room. A musician sat at a grand piano pounding out full of life requirements (just like the Chattanooga Cho Cho)  as the gang buzzed with dialog whereas sipping contemporary orange juice.

30 minutes later, the bagpipes began piping and all of us boarded our vehicles.

This was residence for the following two days.

A Bagpipe sendoff for the Rocky Mountaineer

On the Practice

Like many journeys, the corporate you retain could make or break a visit. Fortunate for us, we have been surrounded by the best folks on the prepare.

It was a world mixture of Australians, Canadians and well-traveled Individuals having conversations about Patagonia, China and different unique locations all over the world.

These folks have been in all places, and so they selected to come back to the Canadian Rockies subsequent!

We felt so pleased with our nation.

Leaving Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer leaves Vancouver

Our departure from Vancouver was typical of the town. We left in a haze of gray clouds and lightweight rain. It reminded us of our three years in Vancouver and why we determined to maneuver again to Toronto. It is a beautiful city, however there’s numerous rain.

So as an alternative of spending an excessive amount of time looking the window and roof of our automobile, we set off for breakfast.

The vehicles are separated into two sections.

Gold Leaf Dome on Rocky Mountaineer

Upstairs is for sightseeing out the dome home windows, enjoyable and having fun with the complimentary bar.

Meals are served downstairs and they’re the primary occasion.

Our automobile was cut up up into two sections, the again and the entrance.

Whereas one half went downstairs for his or her meals, the opposite relaxed and have been entertained by the top-notch workers. Whereas we waited, we have been served scrumptious cinnamon scones and morning espresso and tea.

Eating on the dining level Gold Leaf

Breakfast and lunch are two-hour marathon occasions the place the meals simply retains on coming.

It was all just a little wealthy for me, and I discovered by day two to order the lighter fare on the menu.

As an alternative of the wealthy Eggs Benedict for breakfast and the Grade A Alberta Beef for lunch, it was a yogurt parfait within the AM with sauteed shrimp and greens within the PM.

Eggs benedict first morning breakfast on the Rocky Mountaineer

Downstairs can be the spot on the prepare with the outside viewing platform.

Outside Viewing Platform

It could get very crowded down there, so if you happen to actually wish to seize images that aren’t taken by means of glass, we advise heading down forward of the views to park your self in one of the best place for the upcoming surroundings.

Viewing platform on the Rocky Mountaineer

Leaving from Vancouver to Banff, we sat on the left-hand facet of the prepare.

In our opinion, the appropriate facet of the prepare from Vancouver to Banff has higher views. So we advise attending to know your neighbours properly, so you possibly can share with them.

We had a good time with the couple throughout the aisle and took turns taking images out of our window and theirs.

View from the right side of the viewing platform

The nice factor is which you could transfer to the opposite facet throughout meals. We sat on the left when consuming to combine up our views of the mountains.

The Rocky Mountaineer encourages folks to get to know their neighbors and that helped us out quite a bit.

Day 1 views rocky mountaineer

In fact, the surroundings actually would not ramp up till day two.  So take this primary day from Vancouver, to take a seat again and calm down, get pleasure from a cocktail and get to know your journey companions.

Champagne, wine, and spirits are flowing and the big seats are snug to benefit from the view whereas listening to the tales and details of your automobile servers.

Cool tip: the seats are heated and so they recline like a enterprise class seat on a brief haul flight.

The Rocky Mountaineer Workers

Rocky Mountaineer staff are amazing

Kiki, Could, Sarah and Darren – our unbelievable servers!

Talking of the workers, we have been extraordinarily fortunate to have Kiki, Could, and Tyler upstairs preserving us occupied whereas by no means letting our drinks empty.

Sarah and Darren served our meals downstairs and did an impressive job.

All of them had a brilliant humorousness and have been very informative.

As we wheeled our method by means of wilderness and villages, they advised us of the historical past of the Rocky Mountains and of the cities lining the railway.

Canada was constructed by the railway and we have now Prime Minister John A McDonald to thank for it.


Overnight in Kamloops BC on the Rocky Mountaineer

Our first day flew by and by 7 pm we have been in Kamloops; a picturesque city that was a strategic level being on the intersection of each the CP and CN Railways.

True to their phrase, our baggage was sitting in our rooms ready for us. We did not even must verify in to the lodge, our keys have been handed to us by the workers and we made a b-line on to our room to drop off our day luggage.

The city is full of eating choices however we opted for takeaway.

Sunset in Kamloops

We popped into Subway (sure, we stated Subway) and took our meals right down to the river for a picnic on the water as we watched the solar go down.

Locals appear to like the trains coming in. Multiple individual stopped for a pleasant chat asking the place we have been from and the way we have been having fun with our journey.

It was the right pit cease on the Rocky Mountaineer itinerary.

Day 2

A great start to Day 2

At the moment is the day, the day when the epic views come into play. Finger’s crossed the climate holds off.

It was one other shiny and early departure, however Dave and I have been armed with Vente Lattes from Starbucks downstairs in our lodge and had a very good quantity of caffeine pumped into our veins.

Day two is the place you get the Wow views of the Rockies, with scenic lakes, tunnels and glacier rivers lining our route.

We even noticed a bear! Our neighbour noticed two!

rocky mountaineer bear

There are many bald eagles and deer to spy as properly.

The Platform

Views on the Rocky Mountaineer

By the afternoon, we have been into the Rockies and Dave and I spent all our time on the platform.

I do suppose this was a mistake. The platform is a superb addition, however you do see numerous timber and as an alternative, enjoyable within the dome permits you to see extra.

The Dome Views

Because the dome is a complete prepare automobile increased, you see over the timber.

The glass is obvious and also you get an incredible panoramic view with the dome and the facet home windows.

Deb enjoying the view from the platform

Although it’s important to take images by means of glass, being increased will get you above the treeline and you may see the peaks a lot better.

The platform is a superb place to pop down into, however I really feel we should always have stayed inside a bit extra.

I believe we missed some nice alternatives to spy peaks jutting out from the timber.

Layer, Layer, Layer

Although it’s summer time, the mountains are nonetheless very brisk and if you happen to aren’t correctly layered you may really feel the coolness on the platform, so we positive to pack a sweater and jacket whenever you go exterior.

Castle mountain Banff

When pulling into Banff, the views simply saved getting higher and higher.

We noticed many snow-capped peaks and the view of Citadel Mountain on the way in which into Banff was one of the best we had.

The solar was excellent. It lit up the mountains with an amber hue.

Arriving in Banff

The Rocky Mountains come into view on Day 2

It was a protracted day immediately and we pulled into Banff at 8pm.

I discovered it a bit too lengthy after lunch to be on the prepare.

We completed consuming at about 2 pm and had 6 hours with out meals. Consider it or not, I may have used an additional meal.

By the point we received our rental automobile and to our lodge, it was properly after 9 pm!

Choices after the Practice Journey

The Beautiful views of Banff Alberta

The Rocky Mountaineer is just a two-day prepare journey, so that you undoubtedly ought to spend extra time afterward to see the Rockies.

The Rock Mountaineer presents a number of choices after the journey to proceed your Rocky Mountain journey.

From organized excursions to lodge stays of your alternative or a self-drive bundle that allows you to discover by yourself.

Self Drive Rocky Mountain Journey

You know the way a lot we love a street journey, so we selected the self-drive.

We stated our goodbyes and everybody branched off to their respective accommodations. The Rocky Mountaineer presents loads of selections for accommodations when you arrive in Banff.

And as soon as once more, they’ve your baggage delivered and prepared and ready for you in your room whenever you arrive!

Our seatmates had the great fortune of staying on the Banff Springs Lodge for a few nights earlier than going to Lake Louise to remain on the Chateau Lake Louise; These are two stellar selections for lodging.

Downtown Banff, Alberta

Downtown Banff, Alberta

Dave and I journey just a little extra modestly and spend our time in Banff on the Elk + Avenue which is the right location for exploring downtown Banff. It’s situated within the coronary heart of downtown Banff and has parking which is a should.

We spent the following two days exploring Banff and the encompassing space.

Having spent numerous time in Banff and Alberta, we knew exacatly what we needed to do, and you can also see quite a bit with two days in Banff.

Day 1 in Banff

LAke Louise in Banff National Park

Our first day began at dawn (beware in the summertime it’s four:30 am) at Lake Louise. It’s essential to get to Lake Louise early within the summertime or else you possibly can’t park there. It fills up by 6:00 am and the crowds are outrageous.

We captured that postcard excellent view of Victoria Glacier towering over the beautiful turquoise lake.

We actually needed to incorporate Moraine Lake, however by the point we left Lake Louise, the parking tons have been already full and we might must park within the freeway parking tons and get a shuttle to the following lake.

Lake Louise Canoe at sunrise

Figuring out we had restricted time, we determined to make our method up the Icefields Parkway as an alternative.

You suppose you’ve gotten simply achieved the prepare journey of a lifetime, properly, that is the drive of a lifetime.

Rocky Mountaineer Icefields Parkway Drive

Nationwide Geographic ranks it as one of many high 10 scenic drives on the earth, however Dave and Deb rank it as #1!

Belief me, we have achieved numerous scenic drives on six continents, this one takes the cake.

Whereas Exploring Banff in summer time, you will need to keep forward of the crowds. And keep forward we did!

Bow Lake on Icefields Parkway Banff

By the point we left Lake Louise, it was 7:00 am, so we have been staring in any respect the scenic lookouts of the parkway free and away from tour buses.

Essentially the most placing cease on the drive is Bow Lake. We stayed right here just a few years in the past on the historic Num ti Ja Lodge, so we knew precisely the place to go.

To see this unbelievable view, look ahead to the indicators for the Bow Lake pull off. Park on the facet of the street and stroll right down to the water’s edge for probably the most unbelievable reflection shot of a mountain vary you’ll ever see!

It is an incredible place to go for a brief hike and take within the surrounding space.

Icefields Parkway Alberta

There are a number of pull-offs on the parkway and listed here are just a few that you just can not miss if in case you have the time:

Greatest Stops on the Icefields Parkway

Herbert LakeCrowfoot MountainPeyto LakeSaskatchewan River BasinAthabasca Glacier

Jasper Nationwide Park

We are actually in Jasper Nationwide Park!

The Columbia Icefields

For this leg of our journey, we stopped on the Athabasca Glacier and Colombia Icefields.

The parkway takes you all the way in which to the city of Jasper, however that’s a few days price of sightseeing so we advise going so far as the Colombia Icefields.

If you happen to get off the Rocky Mountaineer in Banff, that is so far as it’s worthwhile to go if in case you have restricted time. When you have the time although, please to go to Jasper, it is superb!

Sunrise in JAsper after the Rocky Mountaineer

If you have not booked a tour of the Athabasca Glacier you in all probability will not get the possibility to go on it. After we arrived, at about 11 am, they have been already reserving for two pm slots. It could have been a Three-hour wait!

Fortunate for us, we have already walked on the glacier earlier than and we extremely advocate reserving this prematurely as it’s price it.

The Athabasca Glacier is likely one of the coolest glaciers on earth.

As an alternative, we went on the Colombia Icefield Skywalk. It is a new attraction that opened in 2014. This unbelievable feat of engineering reaches out over the Colombia Icefields.

You possibly can ebook each excursions by means of Pursuit Adventures

Columbia Icefields Skywalk

Colombia Icefield Skywalk.

Since busses depart each 15 minutes from the Athabasca Glacier, we did not have to attend in any respect and have been on the following shuttle as much as the lookout.

Stroll alongside the glass flooring arching over a  280 m (918-foot) drop if you happen to dare. It presents unobstructed views of the mountains and provides you a tremendous thrill.

Some folks have been petrified and commented on how they might really feel the platform transferring within the wind.

Glass Floor Colombia Icefield Skywalk.

It was pouring rain by the point we arrived, however we waited it out and after about 30 minutes, the solar was shining.

Since folks weren’t reserving shuttles throughout the rain, we had a brief window of getting the skywalk all to ourselves!

As soon as we completed, we felt nice that we had completed and seen every little thing we have ever needed on the Icefields Parkway.

If you wish to witness the highest spots, however do not wish to drive, Pursuit Adventures presents bundle excursions the place you possibly can take a bus, cease on the high scenic lookouts and take a snowcat to the glacier earlier than ending on the skywalk.

It is a good alternative to see every little thing directly.

Icefield's Parkway near JAsper

The climate got here in and we made our method again to Banff however we managed to see a lot, we have been prepared for mattress after our epic day on the street.

Moraine Lake – Foiled Once more!

We set our alarms for four:30 am to make our solution to Moraine Lake. Dave has at all times needed to this lake. It’s well-known for being the lake on our Canadian $20 invoice.

After we awoke, we heard the sound of raindrops pouring down exterior.

When touring the Rocky Mountains, the climate adjustments shortly, so although it was a downpour at four:30 that morning, we determined to provide it a shot and make our solution to Morain Lake, situated close to Lake Louise.

Bad weather at Moraine Lake

As we drove out of Banff, the rain was relentless. We may barely see.  A automobile reduce us off after which we drove by means of prepare tracks, solely to have the limitations go down as we have been crossing.

We took these two incidents as an indication that “possibly we should not be on the street.”  So we put our dream of photographing Moraine Lake at dawn on maintain and went again to the lodge for just a few extra hours of sleep.

Moraine Lake must wait one other day as if you happen to miss the dawn, it’s too crowded to attempt once more.

Exploring Banff

So we spent the morning exploring Banff.

There are such a lot of issues to do in Banff, it may be troublesome to decide on.

The Drive on the Icefields Parkway

1. Banff Higher Sizzling Springs

For greater than 100 years Banff Sizzling Springs have been attracting guests to soak in its therapeutic minerals.

2. Cave and Basin

Dwelling to the unique sizzling springs in Banff, it is Canada’s Oldest Nationwide Park and the third oldest Nationwide park in the complete world! There’s a very cool cave to stroll by means of to take a look at the unique entrance that was found in 1885.

Three. Discover the Bow Valley Parkway

It is a stunning scenic drive that’s off the freeway. Johnston Canyon is situated alongside right here and is a great spot for a hike. Additionally, you will see Citadel Mountain Lookout.

four. Publish Card View of Banff

Park behind the Buffalo Nations Museum and stroll as much as the Cascade of Time Backyard for the right view of downtown Banff flanked by the rocky mountains.

Vermillion Lakes

Vermillion Lakes in Banff

Situated only a few minutes exterior of Banff, The Vermillion Lakes are excellent for mountain climbing and capturing an iconic view of Mount Rundle.

Lake Minnewaska Cruise

It is at all times good to get an early begin and spend as a lot time as you possibly can exterior throughout the summer time months. Climate can change within the Rockies in a heartbeat.

Lake Minnewanka Banff NP

A cruise on Lake Minnewaska is a highly regarded factor to do in Banff. Due to Pursuit Adventures we had the possibility to hop on board.

It was a enjoyable tour and our information was hilarious. The clouds lifted a bit so we may see the decrease mountains, however we all know from expertise, that this lake is breathtaking when it’s clear.

It is also one of many high spots in Banff for star trails and northern lights pictures.

Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola View

Being our final day in Banff, we caught to our schedule went up the Banff Gondola. We had tickets booked prematurely and our time had come at 1pm.

This place is so busy, it’s important to ebook your slots prematurely.  So, up we went into the clouds.

The excellent news was, that it was so quiet up there, we may park within the car parking zone (versus parking midway down the mountain and strolling as much as the ticket workplace like it’s on a typical summer time’s day) and we may browse the museum on the high free from crowds.

Bad weather at Banff Gondola

We additionally loved a lunch up above Banff with wonderful service.

However alas, the clouds by no means lifted and we made our method down with out that epic Banff view.

It was time to maneuver on.

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

Saying Sayonara to Banff, we went to Kananaskis Mountain Lodge on our method again to Calgary.

It is a unbelievable possibility that the Rocky Mountaineer presents for a keep.

Suite at Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

It’s a luxurious lodge connected to a Nordic Spa. We love Nordic Spas, however the one criticism we have at all times had was that they need to have a lodge connected so you possibly can return to your room to calm down after your thermal remedies. Effectively, the Kananaskis Lodge has simply that!

We spent a few hours going by means of the thermal cycle of “sizzling, chilly, calm down” whereas we examined out the totally different saunas, steam rooms, and plunge swimming pools.

rocky mountaineer nordik spa

Be aware: images weren’t allowed within the spa, however Kananaskis Nordic Spa generously gave us this picture to provide you an thought. Picture Credit score: Janice Lee for Dote Journal

If you have not achieved a Nordik Spa, you might be lacking out. There are such a lot of selections of saunas and sizzling swimming pools, you’re feeling overwhelmed whenever you begin wanting to take a look at all of them. However then as you compromise in, you understand, “I’ve on a regular basis on the earth” as you soften and calm down into the expertise.

Our spa was adopted by a very good outdated Alberta meal on the Cedar Room (one in all six eating places on the resort)

Cedar Room Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

When in Alberta, you can’t go with out having Alberta beef, and we each had superb cuts of our steaks cooked to perfection.

The service was one of the best as our server “Serge” had the right steadiness of humour and data whereas giving us our privateness to get pleasure from a romantic meal.

Lovely Views of Kananasis

Sunrise Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

If you happen to suppose which you could solely get epic views in Banff, suppose once more. Our morning stroll supplied a spectacular dawn over the valley lighting up the Kananaskis Mountain Vary.

This lodge is the right place to finish your time on the Rocky Mountaineer. If you wish to work out the aches and pains from sitting on a prepare for 2 days, that is the place to do it.

The lookout view from the lodge

The resort makes for a trip vacation spot. There is a world-class golf course within the valley under, the Nordik Spa, swimming swimming pools, mountain climbing trails, and several other eating choices.

We may have spent two nights right here for positive.

The Rocky Mountaineer supplied a superb steadiness of rest and journey. Spending two days on the prepare gave a tremendous overview of the Rocky Mountains and helped us study in regards to the historical past of Western Canada. It’s a prepare journey just like the Orient Specific or the Trans Siberian. If you happen to love trains, this can be a should!

To ebook your journey on the Rocky Mountaineer, take a look at their web site.

In case you are planning a Rocky Mountaineer prepare journey, why not reserve it to Pinterest for future reference

rocky mountaineer

Adopted by a tour of Banff, offers the Rocky Mountaineer that additional edge over different prepare journeys on the earth. Baff, Lake Louise and Jasper really are among the most photogenic locations on earth and to witness the Rocky Mountains is a view you’ll always remember.

We’ll always remember our time on the Rocky Mountaineer. The folks we met and the views we noticed will keep on with us for the remainder of our lives!

To ebook your journey on the Rocky Mountaineer, take a look at their web site.

Journeys go to and from Banff, Vancouver and  Jasper

Learn Extra:

9 Greatest Winter Experiences in Banff

Alberta Street Journey – Following the Cowboy Path

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