Do you’re keen on trains? Do you’re keen on them in that Sheldon Cooper approach you can’t get sufficient of them and it’s essential go on the final word practice journey? Look no additional than the Rocky Mountaineer.
I’ve needed to take an epic practice 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 practice journey, however I fulfilled my dream of consuming gourmand cheese whereas sipping fantastic wine on a practice!
A journey throughout 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 fulfilling their dream of witnessing the Canadian Rockies from the luxurious dome vehicles of the one among a sort Rocky Mountaineer luxurious practice.
Once we informed folks we have been happening a Canadian Rockies practice journey many replied, “That’s my dream journey!”
So, if you’re contemplating taking a dream journey of your personal via the Rocky Mountains, here’s what you’ll be able to count on.
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.
You probably have the time, we recommend 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 choose up.
Properly Oiled Machine
The Rocky Mountaineer has been in operation since 1990, so all the pieces 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 informed that our baggage could be in our rooms ready for us once we arrive for our in a single day in Kamloops.
All we would have liked for the day was our cameras, a windproof jacket, a light-weight sweater, and our sun shades.
What to pack for on the practice:
There are not any overhead compartments so that you solely have the area beneath you at your seat. It’s sufficient for a small backpack. Here’s what we recommend.
mild sweaterouter windproof jacketscarfcamera and phonecamera and telephone chargers – there are shops within the seatssunglassesmedication
We have been good to go!
The Practice Station
Once we arrived on the practice station, we might really feel the joy and vitality within the room. A musician sat at a grand piano pounding out vigorous requirements (just like the Chattanooga Cho Cho) as the group buzzed with dialog whereas sipping contemporary orange juice.
30 minutes later, the bagpipes began piping and all of us boarded our vehicles.
This was house for the following two days.
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 good folks on the practice.
It was a global 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 every single place, and so they selected to return to the Canadian Rockies subsequent!
We felt so happy with our nation.
Our departure from Vancouver was typical of 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 pretty city, however there’s quite a lot of 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.
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 principle 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.
Breakfast and lunch are two-hour marathon occasions the place the meals simply retains on coming.
It was all a bit wealthy for me, and I discovered by day two to order the lighter fare on the menu.
As a substitute 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.
Downstairs can be the spot on the practice with the outside viewing platform.
Outside Viewing Platform
It may well get very crowded down there, so if you happen to actually wish to seize images that aren’t taken via glass, we recommend heading down forward of the views to park your self in the perfect place for the upcoming surroundings.
Leaving from Vancouver to Banff, we sat on the left-hand facet of the practice.
In our opinion, the appropriate facet of the practice from Vancouver to Banff has higher views. So we recommend attending to know your neighbours properly, so you’ll be able to 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.
The nice factor is you can 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 rather a lot.
In reality, the surroundings actually would not ramp up till day two. So take this primary day from Vancouver, to take a seat again and chill out, get pleasure from a cocktail and get to know your journey companions.
Champagne, wine, and spirits are flowing and the big seats are comfy to benefit from the view whereas listening to the tales and info 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
Talking of the workers, we have been extraordinarily fortunate to have Kiki, Could, and Tyler upstairs maintaining 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 approach via wilderness and villages, they informed us of the historical past of the Rocky Mountains and of the cities lining the railway.
Canada was constructed by the railway and we’ve got Prime Minister John A McDonald to thank for it.
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.
We popped into Subway (sure, we mentioned 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. A couple of 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 proper pit cease on the Rocky Mountaineer itinerary.
In the present day is the day, the day when the epic views come into play. Finger’s crossed the climate holds off.
It was one other vivid and early departure, however Dave and I have been armed with Vente Lattes from Starbucks downstairs in our lodge and had 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!
There are many bald eagles and deer to spy as properly.
By the afternoon, we have been into the Rockies and Dave and I spent all our time on the platform.
I do assume this was a mistake. The platform is a superb addition, however you do see quite a lot of bushes and as an alternative, enjoyable within the dome lets you see extra.
The Dome Views
Because the dome is a complete practice automobile increased, you see over the bushes.
The glass is evident and also you get a terrific panoramic view with the dome and the facet home windows.
Regardless that it’s a must to take images via 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 feel we missed some nice alternatives to spy peaks jutting out from the bushes.
Layer, Layer, Layer
Regardless that it’s summer time, the mountains are nonetheless very brisk and if you happen to aren’t correctly layered you will really feel the coolness on the platform, so we certain to pack a sweater and jacket while you go exterior.
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 best way into Banff was the perfect we had.
The solar was good. It lit up the mountains with an amber hue.
Arriving in Banff
It was a protracted day in the present day and we pulled into Banff at 8pm.
I discovered it a bit too lengthy after lunch to be on the practice.
We completed consuming at about 2 pm and had 6 hours with out meals. Imagine it or not, I might have used an additional meal.
By the point we bought our rental automobile and to our lodge, it was properly after 9 pm!
Choices after the Practice Journey
The Rocky Mountaineer is simply a two-day practice journey, so that you positively ought to spend extra time afterward to see the Rockies.
The Rock Mountaineer gives 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 permits 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 mentioned our goodbyes and everybody branched off to their respective accommodations. The Rocky Mountaineer gives loads of decisions 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 while 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 decisions for lodging.
Dave and I journey a bit extra modestly and spend our time in Banff on the Elk + Avenue which is the proper 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 encircling space.
Having spent quite a lot of time in Banff and Alberta, we knew exacatly what we needed to do, and you can also see rather a lot with two days in Banff.
Day 1 in Banff
Our first day began at dawn (beware in the summertime it’s four:30 am) at Lake Louise. You need to get to Lake Louise early within the summertime or else you’ll be able to’t park there. It fills up by 6:00 am and the crowds are outrageous.
We captured that postcard good 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 would must park within the freeway parking tons and get a shuttle to the following lake.
Understanding we had restricted time, we determined to make our approach up the Icefields Parkway as an alternative.
You assume you’ve gotten simply executed the practice journey of a lifetime, properly, that is the drive of a lifetime.
Nationwide Geographic ranks it as one of many prime 10 scenic drives on this planet, however Dave and Deb rank it as #1!
Belief me, we have executed quite a lot of scenic drives on six continents, this one takes the cake.
Whereas Exploring Banff in summer time, it is very important keep forward of the crowds. And keep forward we did!
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 putting 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 a terrific place to go for a brief hike and take within the surrounding space.
There are a number of pull-offs on the parkway and listed here are just a few that you just can not miss when you have the time:
Finest Stops on the Icefields Parkway
Herbert LakeCrowfoot MountainPeyto LakeSaskatchewan River BasinAthabasca Glacier
Jasper Nationwide Park
We at the moment are in Jasper Nationwide Park!
For this leg of our journey, we stopped on the Athabasca Glacier and Colombia Icefields.
The parkway takes you all the best way to the city of Jasper, however that’s a few days value of sightseeing so we recommend 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 essential go when you have restricted time. You probably have the time although, please to go to Jasper, it is superb!
If you have not booked a tour of the Athabasca Glacier you most likely will not get the possibility to go on it. Once we arrived, at about 11 am, they have been already reserving for two pm slots. It will have been a Three-hour wait!
Fortunate for us, we have already walked on the glacier earlier than and we extremely suggest reserving this upfront as it’s value it.
The Athabasca Glacier is without doubt one of the coolest glaciers on earth.
As a substitute, 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 e-book each excursions via Pursuit Adventures
Columbia Icefields Skywalk
Since busses go away 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 ground arching over a 280 m (918-foot) drop if you happen to dare. It gives 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 shifting within the wind.
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 all the pieces we have ever needed on the Icefields Parkway.
If you wish to witness the highest spots, however do not wish to drive, Pursuit Adventures gives bundle excursions the place you’ll be able to take a bus, cease on the prime scenic lookouts and take a snowcat to the glacier earlier than ending on the skywalk.
It is a good alternative to see all the pieces without delay.
The climate got here in and we made our approach 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 technique to Moraine Lake. Dave has at all times needed to photograph this lake. It’s well-known for being the lake on our Canadian $20 invoice.
Once we awoke, we heard the sound of raindrops pouring down exterior.
When touring the Rocky Mountains, the climate modifications rapidly, so despite the fact that it was a downpour at four:30 that morning, we determined to offer it a shot and make our technique to Morain Lake, situated close to Lake Louise.
As we drove out of Banff, the rain was relentless. We might barely see. A automobile reduce us off after which we drove via practice tracks, solely to have the boundaries go down as we have been crossing.
We took these two incidents as an indication that “perhaps 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 strive once more.
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.
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
House to the unique sizzling springs in Banff, it is Canada’s Oldest Nationwide Park and the third oldest Nationwide park in the whole world! There’s a very cool cave to stroll via to take a look at the unique entrance that was found in 1885.
Three. Discover the Bow Valley Parkway
It is a lovely 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 proper view of downtown Banff flanked by the rocky mountains.
Positioned only a few minutes exterior of Banff, The Vermillion Lakes are good for 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’ll be able to exterior throughout the summer time months. Climate can change within the Rockies in a heartbeat.
A cruise on Lake Minnewaska is a very fashionable factor to do in Banff. Because of 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 might 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 prime spots in Banff for star trails and northern lights pictures.
Being our final day in Banff, we caught to our schedule went up the Banff Gondola. We had tickets booked upfront and our time had come at 1pm.
This place is so busy, it’s a must to e-book your slots upfront. So, up we went into the clouds.
The excellent news was, that it was so quiet up there, we might park within the 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 might browse the museum on the prime free from crowds.
We additionally loved a lunch up above Banff with glorious service.
However alas, the clouds by no means lifted and we made our approach down with out that epic Banff view.
It was time to maneuver on.
Kananaskis Mountain Lodge
Saying Sayonara to Banff, we went to Kananaskis Mountain Lodge on our approach again to Calgary.
It is a improbable possibility that the Rocky Mountaineer gives for a keep.
It’s a luxurious lodge connected to a Nordic Spa. We love Nordic Spas, however the one grievance we have at all times had was that they need to have a lodge connected so you’ll be able to return to your room to chill out after your thermal therapies. Properly, the Kananaskis Lodge has simply that!
We spent a few hours going via the thermal cycle of “sizzling, chilly, chill out” whereas we examined out the totally different saunas, steam rooms, and plunge swimming pools.
Word: images weren’t allowed within the spa, however Kananaskis Nordic Spa generously gave us this picture to offer you an concept. Photograph Credit score: Janice Lee for Dote Journal
If you have not executed a Nordik Spa, you might be lacking out. There are such a lot of decisions of saunas and sizzling swimming pools, you’re feeling overwhelmed while you begin wanting to take a look at all of them. However then as you compromise in, you notice, “I’ve on a regular basis on this planet” as you soften and chill out into the expertise.
Our spa was adopted by outdated Alberta meal on the Cedar Room (one among six eating places on the resort)
When in Alberta, you can not go with out having Alberta beef, and we each had superb cuts of our steaks cooked to perfection.
The service was the perfect as our server “Serge” had the proper stability of humour and knowledge whereas giving us our privateness to get pleasure from a romantic meal.
Lovely Views of Kananasis
If you happen to assume you can solely get epic views in Banff, assume once more. Our morning stroll supplied a spectacular dawn over the valley lighting up the Kananaskis Mountain Vary.
This lodge is the proper place to finish your time on the Rocky Mountaineer. If you wish to work out the aches and pains from sitting on a practice for 2 days, that is the place to do it.
The resort makes for a trip vacation spot. There is a world-class golf course within the valley beneath, the Nordik Spa, swimming swimming pools, climbing trails, and several other eating choices.
We might have spent two nights right here for certain.
The Rocky Mountaineer supplied a superb stability of leisure and journey. Spending two days on the practice gave a tremendous overview of the Rocky Mountains and helped us study concerning the historical past of Western Canada. It’s a practice journey just like the Orient Categorical or the Trans Siberian. If you happen to love trains, this can be a should!
To e-book your journey on the Rocky Mountaineer, try their web site.
If you’re planning a Rocky Mountaineer practice journey, why not reserve it to Pinterest for future reference
Adopted by a tour of Banff, offers the Rocky Mountaineer that further edge over different practice journeys on this planet. Baff, Lake Louise and Jasper actually are a few of the most photogenic locations on earth and to witness the Rocky Mountains is a view you’ll always remember.
We are going to always remember our time on the Rocky Mountaineer. The folks we met and the views we noticed will stick to us for the remainder of our lives!
To e-book your journey on the Rocky Mountaineer, try their web site.
Journeys go to and from Banff, Vancouver and Jasper
9 Finest Winter Experiences in Banff
Alberta Highway Journey – Following the Cowboy Path