The Rocky Mountaineer Experience – Vancouver to Banff

Do you’re keen on trains? Do you’re keen on them in that Sheldon Cooper manner that you’ll be able to’t get sufficient of them and you wish to have to cross at the final educate adventure? Look no additional than the Rocky Mountaineer.

I have sought after to take an epic educate adventure ever since gazing Meg Ryan shawl down cheese in a luxurious automobile within the film French Kiss in 1995. It took me 24 years to get alone educate shuttle, however I fulfilled my dream of consuming gourmand cheese whilst sipping high quality wine on a educate!

A adventure around the Canadian Rocky Mountains tops many an individual’s bucket checklist.

Our fellow passengers have been celebrating anniversaries, birthdays and a few have been merely pleasing their dream of witnessing the Canadian Rockies from the sumptuous dome vehicles of the certainly one of a sort Rocky Mountaineer luxurious educate.

Rocky Mountaineer Start in Vancouver

When we instructed other people we have been occurring a Canadian Rockies educate adventure many responded, “That is my dream trip!”

So, if you’re making an allowance for taking a dream shuttle of your individual throughout the Rocky Mountains, here’s what you’ll be able to be expecting.

Pure Luxury

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 take into account being a Production Assistant within the Vancouver movie business within the 90s the place I picked up many an actor at this actual resort.

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

The view was once exceptional from our room.

If you’ve the time, we propose spending a few days exploring Vancouver. Having lived there up to now, we most effective flew within the evening earlier than our shuttle to be in a position for our 6:30 am select up.

Well Oiled Machine

The Rocky Mountaineer Train

The Rocky Mountaineer has been in operation since 1990, so the whole lot is going off with out a hitch. At 6:00 am the bellhop was once at our door to select up our baggage.

While playing a espresso within the foyer, we got our bag tags and instructed that our baggage can be in our rooms looking ahead to us after we arrive for our in a single day in Kamloops.

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

What to pack for at the educate:

There aren’t any overhead compartments so that you most effective have the distance under you at your seat. It is sufficient for a small backpack. Here is what we propose.

  • gentle sweater
  • outer windproof jacket
  • shawl
  • digicam and call
  • digicam and call chargers – there are shops within the seats
  • shades
  • medicine

We have been excellent to cross!

The Train Station

Piano Player at the rocky mountaineer train station.

When we arrived on the educate station, shall we really feel the thrill and effort within the room. A musician sat at a grand piano pounding out energetic requirements (just like the Chattanooga Cho Cho)  as the gang buzzed with dialog whilst sipping contemporary orange juice.

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

This was once house for the following two days.

A Bagpipe sendoff for the Rocky Mountaineer

On the Train

Like many trips, the corporate you stay could make or wreck a shuttle. Lucky for us, we have been surrounded through the good other people at the educate.

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

These other people had been all over, they usually selected to come to the Canadian Rockies subsequent!

We felt so happy with our nation.

Leaving Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer leaves Vancouver

Our departure from Vancouver was once conventional of the town. We left in a haze of gray clouds and lightweight rain. It reminded us of our 3 years in Vancouver and why we determined to transfer again to Toronto. It’s a wonderful the town, however there may be a large number of rain.

So as an alternative of spending an excessive amount of time having a look out the window and roof of our automobile, we spark 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 playing the complimentary bar.

Meals are served downstairs and they’re the principle tournament.

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

While one part went downstairs for his or her foods, the opposite comfy and have been entertained through the highest-notch workforce. While 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 helps to keep on coming.

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

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

Eggs benedict first morning breakfast on the Rocky Mountaineer

Downstairs could also be the spot at the educate with the outside viewing platform.

Outdoor Viewing Platform

It can get very crowded down there, so should you in point of fact need to take hold of pictures that aren’t taken thru glass, we propose heading down forward of the perspectives to park your self in the most efficient place for the approaching surroundings.

Viewing platform on the Rocky Mountaineer

Leaving from Vancouver to Banff, we sat at the left-hand aspect of the educate.

In our opinion, the precise aspect of the educate from Vancouver to Banff has higher perspectives. So we propose getting to know your neighbours smartly, so you’ll be able to percentage with them.

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

View from the right side of the viewing platform

The good thing is that you’ll be able to transfer to the opposite aspect all through foods. We sat at the left when consuming to combine up our perspectives of the mountains.

The Rocky Mountaineer encourages other people to get to know their neighbors and that helped us out so much.

Day 1 views rocky mountaineer


In reality, the surroundings in point of fact does not ramp up till day two.  So take this primary day from Vancouver, to take a seat again and chill out, experience a cocktail and get to know your shuttle partners.

Champagne, wine, and spirits are flowing and the massive seats are comfy to benefit from the view whilst listening to the tales and details of your automobile servers.

  • Cool tip: the seats are heated they usually recline like a trade elegance seat on a brief haul flight.

The Rocky Mountaineer Staff

Rocky Mountaineer staff are amazing

Kiki, May, Sarah and Darren – our incredible servers!

Speaking of the workforce, we have been extraordinarily fortunate to have Kiki, May, and Tyler upstairs protecting us occupied whilst by no means letting our beverages empty.

Sarah and Darren served our foods downstairs and did an excellent activity.

They all had an ideal humorousness and have been very informative.

As we wheeled our manner thru desert and villages, they instructed us of the historical past of the Rocky Mountains and of the cities lining the railway.

Canada was once constructed through the railway and we’ve got Prime Minister John A McDonald to thank for it.


Overnight in Kamloops BC on the Rocky Mountaineer

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

True to their phrase, our baggage was once sitting in our rooms looking ahead to us. We did not also have to test in to the resort, our keys have been passed to us through the workforce and we made a b-line without delay to our room to drop off our day baggage.

The the town is stuffed with eating choices however we opted for takeaway.

Sunset in Kamloops

We popped into Subway (sure, we mentioned Subway) and took our foods down to the river for a picnic at the water as we watched the solar cross down.

Locals appear to love the trains coming in. More than one individual stopped for a pleasant chat asking the place we have been from and the way we have been playing our adventure.

It was once the very best pit forestall at the Rocky Mountaineer itinerary.

Day 2

A great start to Day 2

Today is the day, the day when the epic perspectives come into play. Finger’s crossed the elements holds off.

It was once every other shiny and early departure, however Dave and I have been armed with Vente Lattes from Starbucks downstairs in our resort and had a excellent quantity of caffeine pumped into our veins.

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

We even noticed a undergo! Our neighbour noticed two!

rocky mountaineer bear

There are a number of bald eagles and deer to secret agent as smartly.

The Platform

Views on the Rocky Mountaineer

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

I do suppose this was once a mistake. The platform is a smart addition, however you do see a large number of timber and as an alternative, enjoyable within the dome lets in you to see extra.

The Dome Views

Since the dome is a whole educate automobile upper, you notice over the timber.

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

Deb enjoying the view from the platform

Even despite the fact that you’ve to take pictures thru glass, being upper will get you above the treeline and you’ll be able to see the peaks a lot better.

The platform is a smart position to pop down into, however I believe we must have stayed inside of a little extra.

I believe we ignored some nice alternatives to secret agent peaks jutting out from the timber.

Layer, Layer, Layer

Even despite the fact that it’s summer time, the mountains are nonetheless very brisk and should you are not correctly layered you can really feel the coolness at the platform, so we certain to pack a sweater and jacket while you cross outdoor.

Castle mountain Banff

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

We noticed many snow-capped peaks and the view of Castle Mountain at the manner into Banff was once the most efficient we had.

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

Arriving in Banff

The Rocky Mountains come into view on Day 2

It was once a protracted day as of late and we pulled into Banff at 8pm.

I discovered it a little too lengthy after lunch to be at the educate.

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

By the time we were given our condo automobile and to our resort, it was once smartly after nine pm!

Options after the Train Journey

The Beautiful views of Banff Alberta

The Rocky Mountaineer is just a two-day educate adventure, so that you indisputably must spend extra time later on to see the Rockies.

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

From arranged excursions to resort remains of your selection or a self-pressure package deal that permits you to discover by yourself.

Self Drive Rocky Mountain Adventure

You understand how a lot we like a street shuttle, so we selected the self-pressure.

We mentioned our goodbyes and everybody branched off to their respective inns. The Rocky Mountaineer gives a number of possible choices for inns if you arrive in Banff.

And as soon as once more, they’ve your baggage delivered and in a position and looking ahead to you on your room while you arrive!

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

Downtown Banff, Alberta

Downtown Banff, Alberta

Dave and I shuttle just a little extra modestly and spend our time in Banff on the Elk + Avenue which is the very best location for exploring downtown Banff. It is situated within the middle of downtown Banff and has parking which is a should.

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

Having spent a large number of time in Banff and Alberta, we knew exacatly what we would have liked to do, and it’s also possible to see so much with two days in Banff.

Day 1 in Banff

LAke Louise in Banff National Park

Our first day began at first light (beware in the summertime it’s four:30 am) at Lake Louise. You should get to Lake Louise early in the summer or else you’ll be able to’t park there. It fills up through 6:00 am and the crowds are outrageous.

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

We in point of fact sought after to come with Moraine Lake, however by the point we left Lake Louise, the parking rather a lot have been already complete and we would have to park within the freeway parking rather a lot and get a travel to the following lake.

Lake Louise Canoe at sunrise

Knowing we had restricted time, we determined to make our manner up the Icefields Parkway as an alternative.

You suppose you’ve simply executed the educate adventure of an entire life, smartly, that is the pressure of an entire life.

Rocky Mountaineer Icefields Parkway Drive

National Geographic ranks it as some of the best 10 scenic drives on the planet, however Dave and Deb rank it as #1!

Trust me, we have now executed a large number of scenic drives on six continents, this one takes the cake.

While Exploring Banff in summer time, it will be significant to keep forward of the crowds. And keep forward we did!

Bow Lake on Icefields Parkway Banff

By the time we left Lake Louise, it was once 7:00 am, so we have been watching all of the scenic lookouts of the freeway loose and transparent of excursion buses.

The maximum hanging forestall at the pressure is Bow Lake. We stayed right here a couple of years in the past on the historical Num ti Ja Lodge, so we knew precisely the place to cross.

To see this unbelievable view, look forward to the indicators for the Bow Lake pull off. Park at the aspect of the street and stroll down to the water’s edge for probably the most unbelievable mirrored image shot of a mountain vary you are going to ever see!

It’s an excellent spot to opt for a brief hike and take within the surrounding space.

Icefields Parkway Alberta

There are a number of pull-offs at the freeway and listed below are a couple of that you can’t pass over you probably have the time:

Best Stops at the Icefields Parkway

  • Herbert Lake
  • Crowfoot Mountain
  • Peyto Lake
  • Saskatchewan River Basin
  • Athabasca Glacier

Jasper National Park

We are actually in Jasper National Park!

The Columbia Icefields

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

The freeway takes you all of the manner to the city of Jasper, however this is a few days price of sightseeing so we propose going so far as the Colombia Icefields.

If you get off the Rocky Mountaineer in Banff, that is so far as you wish to have to cross you probably have restricted time. If you’ve the time despite the fact that, please to cross to Jasper, it is wonderful!

Sunrise in JAsper after the Rocky Mountaineer

If you have not booked a excursion of the Athabasca Glacier you almost certainly may not get the danger to cross on it. When we arrived, at about 11 am, they have been already reserving for two pm slots. It would had been a three-hour wait!

Lucky for us, we have now already walked at the glacier earlier than and we extremely suggest reserving this upfront as it’s price it.

The Athabasca Glacier is without doubt one of the coolest glaciers on earth.

Instead, we went at the Colombia Icefield Skywalk. This is a brand new enchantment that opened in 2014. This unbelievable feat of engineering reaches out over the Colombia Icefields.

You can e-book each tours thru Pursuit Adventures

Columbia Icefields Skywalk

Colombia Icefield Skywalk.

Since busses go away each 15 mins from the Athabasca Glacier, we did not have to wait in any respect and have been at the subsequent travel up to the lookout.

Walk alongside the glass flooring arching over a  280 m (918-foot) drop should you dare. It gives unobstructed perspectives of the mountains and provides you with an incredible thrill.

Some other people have been petrified and commented on how they may really feel the platform transferring within the wind.

Glass Floor Colombia Icefield Skywalk.

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

Since other people were not reserving shuttles all through the rain, we had a brief window of getting the skywalk all to ourselves!

Once we completed, we felt nice that we had achieved and noticed the whole lot we have now ever sought after at the Icefields Parkway.

  • If you need to witness the highest spots, however are not looking for to pressure, Pursuit Adventures gives package deal excursions the place you’ll be able to take a bus, forestall on the best scenic lookouts and take a snowcat to the glacier earlier than finishing on the skywalk.

This is a great alternative to see the whole lot without delay.

Icefield's Parkway near JAsper

The climate got here in and we made our long ago to Banff however we controlled to see such a lot, we have been in a position for mattress after our epic day at the street.

Moraine Lake – Foiled Again!

We set our alarms for four:30 am to make our manner to Moraine Lake. Dave has at all times sought after to photograph this lake. It is legendary for being the lake on our Canadian $20 invoice.

When we aroused from sleep, we heard the sound of raindrops pouring down outdoor.

When touring the Rocky Mountains, the elements adjustments briefly, so although it was once a downpour at four:30 that morning, we determined to give it a shot and make our manner to Morain Lake, situated close to Lake Louise.

Bad weather at Moraine Lake

As we drove out of Banff, the rain was once relentless. We may slightly see.  A automobile reduce us off after which we drove thru educate tracks, most effective to have the obstacles cross down as we have been crossing.

We took those two incidents as an indication that “maybe we shouldn’t be on the road.”  So we put our dream of photographing Moraine Lake at first light on hang and went again to the resort for a couple of extra hours of sleep.

Moraine Lake could have to wait every other day as should you pass over the first light, it’s too crowded to take a look at 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 tricky to select.

The Drive on the Icefields Parkway

1. Banff Upper Hot Springs

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

2. Cave and Basin

Home to the unique scorching springs in Banff, it is Canada’s Oldest National Park and the 3rd oldest National park in all of the global! There is an excessively cool cave to stroll thru to have a look at the unique front that was once found out in 1885.

three. Explore the Bow Valley Parkway

This is a gorgeous scenic pressure this is off the freeway. Johnston Canyon is situated alongside right here and is a great spot for a hike. You will even see Castle Mountain Lookout.

four. Post Card View of Banff

Park in the back of the Buffalo Nations Museum and stroll up to the Cascade of Time Garden for the very best view of downtown Banff flanked through the rocky mountains.

Vermillion Lakes

Vermillion Lakes in Banff

Located only a few mins outdoor of Banff, The Vermillion Lakes are ideal for mountaineering and shooting an iconic view of Mount Rundle.

Lake Minnewaska Cruise

It’s at all times excellent to get an early get started and spend as a lot time as you’ll be able to outdoor all through the summer time months. Weather can exchange within the Rockies in a heartbeat.

Lake Minnewanka Banff NP

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

It was once a amusing excursion and our information was once hilarious. The clouds lifted a little so shall we see the decrease mountains, however we all know from revel in, that this lake is breathtaking when it’s transparent.

It’s additionally some of the best spots in Banff for big name trails and northerly lighting images.

Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola View

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

This position is so busy, you’ve to e-book your slots upfront.  So, up we went into the clouds.

The excellent information was once, that it was once so quiet up there, shall we park within the parking space (as adverse to parking midway down the mountain and strolling up to the price ticket workplace find it irresistible is on a same old summer time’s day) and shall we browse the museum on the best loose from crowds.

Bad weather at Banff Gondola

We additionally loved a lunch up above Banff with superb provider.

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

It was once time to transfer on.

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

Saying Sayonara to Banff, we went to Kananaskis Mountain Lodge on our long ago to Calgary.

This is an incredible possibility that the Rocky Mountaineer gives for a keep.

Suite at Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

It is a luxurious resort hooked up to a Nordic Spa. We love Nordic Spas, however the only criticism we have now at all times had was once that they must have a resort hooked up so you’ll be able to return to your room to chill out after your thermal remedies. Well, the Kananaskis Lodge has simply that!

We spent a few hours going throughout the thermal cycle of “hot, cold, relax” whilst we examined out the other saunas, steam rooms, and plunge swimming pools.

rocky mountaineer nordik spa

Note: pictures weren’t allowed within the spa, however Kananaskis Nordic Spa generously gave us this symbol to provide you with an concept. Photo Credit: Janice Lee for Dote Magazine

If you have not executed a Nordik Spa, you might be lacking out. There are such a lot of possible choices of saunas and scorching swimming pools, you are feeling beaten while you get started short of to take a look at all of them. But then as you agree in, you understand, “I have all the time in the world” as you soften and chill out into the revel in.

Our spa was once adopted through a excellent previous Alberta meal on the Cedar Room (certainly one of six eating places on the lodge)

Cedar Room Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

When in Alberta, you can’t cross with no need Alberta red meat, and we each had wonderful cuts of our steaks cooked to perfection.

The provider was once the most efficient as our server “Serge” had the very best stability of humour and data whilst giving us our privateness to experience a romantic meal.

Beautiful Views of Kananasis

Sunrise Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

If you suppose that you’ll be able to most effective get epic perspectives in Banff, suppose once more. Our morning stroll introduced a impressive first light over the valley lighting fixtures up the Kananaskis Mountain Range.

This resort is the very best position to finish your time at the Rocky Mountaineer. If you need to determine the aches and pains from sitting on a educate for 2 days, that is where to do it.

The lookout view from the lodge

The lodge makes for a holiday vacation spot. There’s a global-elegance golfing direction within the valley under, the Nordik Spa, swimming swimming pools, mountaineering trails, and a number of other eating choices.

We may have spent two nights right here needless to say.

The Rocky Mountaineer introduced a very good stability of rest and journey. Spending two days at the educate gave an incredible evaluation of the Rocky Mountains and helped us be told concerning the historical past of Western Canada. It is a educate adventure just like the Orient Express or the Trans Siberian. If you’re keen on trains, it is a should!

To e-book your shuttle at the Rocky Mountaineer, take a look at their web page. 

If you might be making plans a Rocky Mountaineer educate adventure, why now not reserve it to Pinterest for long term reference

rocky mountaineer

Followed through a excursion of Banff, provides the Rocky Mountaineer that further edge over different educate trips on the planet. Baff, Lake Louise and Jasper in reality are one of the crucial maximum photogenic puts on earth and to witness the Rocky Mountains is a view you are going to by no means disregard.

We won’t ever disregard our time at the Rocky Mountaineer. The other people we met and the perspectives we noticed will stick to us for the remainder of our lives!

To e-book your shuttle at the Rocky Mountaineer, take a look at their web page. 

Journeys cross to and from Banff, Vancouver and  Jasper

Read More:

nine Best Winter Experiences in Banff

Alberta Road Trip – Following the Cowboy Trail

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