Taking Western Canada train tours is a memorable experience. In fact, it’s a great way to get to know Canada’s stunning landscapes from a different perspective. The train passes over dazzling mountain ranges and stunning glaciers and tunnels. It also passes countless rivers and lakes, and is surrounded by forests that are home to bears, moose, and bald eagles. And of course, there are the mountains themselves – imposing peaks that tower over the landscape and give it its dramatic, otherworldly beauty.
The Rocky Mountaineer is the only train that runs on Canada’s first trans-continental railway line, which opened in 1885 and is famous for its beautiful scenery. It’s still possible to travel on this historic route, although now it only runs between Vancouver and Banff/Lake Louise (or vice versa if you’re going in the opposite direction). It’s also possible to add on an Alaskan cruise to make this a truly epic adventure.
The train itself is a luxurious and intimate experience. The coaches are train travel in Canada spacious and comfortable with reclining seats and large windows that provide excellent views of the stunning natural scenery. The food and service aboard are top-notch, too. Those who choose GoldLeaf Service will have their own train car with full-dome windows and even more attentive service. In this class, you’ll enjoy a hot chef-prepared meal at lunch and dinner, and in the evening there’s an on-board bar serving drinks and appetizers.
There are several routes that can be taken on the Rocky Mountaineer, but the Journey through the Clouds and First Passage to the West routes are very similar – indeed, they often run coupled together between Vancouver and Kamloops. The other route, Rainforest to Goldrush, is a little different, but it’s possible to combine this with either of the other two routes to create a tour that avoids any duplication of experience.
09:40 Kamloops Lake: The train hugs the shore of Kamloops Lake, watching out for bald eagles and the attractively-coloured rocks at ‘Painted Bluff’. The train soon reaches the end of the lake and heads up into a valley with a river on one side and a ridge on the other. The ridge is a popular climbing spot for hikers and you can see some of the climbing routes on the cliff face.
10:30 Seton Lake: The train crosses a spit of land called the Seton Portage separating Lake Anderson from Lake Seton. The lake is a stunning turquoise colour, created by sediment washed down from the surrounding mountain peaks.
14:30 Mount Robson: This is the highest point on the train’s route, and you can see it as the train enters a Rocky Mountain trench, a wide valley between the peaks, with bare brown grass and pine trees growing on either side. The train also passes ‘Black Canyon’, with a section of black lava cliffs on the right.
17:40 Lillooet: The train passes through the town of Lillooet and a logging yard before reaching the confluence of the Thompson & Fraser Rivers near Lytton. The train then passes a hydro electric plant and crosses the Fraser on a steel girder bridge.