The best advice I could give to anyone before they step onboard the Rocky Mountaineer, is to put the camera down and enjoy the ride. I have 810 pictures from my three days travelling with Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff, and not one of them do it justice. It is simply impossible to capture the beauty that surrounds you along every stretch of track on this magnificent journey, which is why the Rocky Mountaineer consistently hits the top of bucket lists the world over.
Travel by train has long been a romanticized way to get from one destination to another, but onboard the Rocky Mountaineer you may find you’re in no rush to get to the destination at all. If you’re thinking of taking this epic journey, I have a few tips to share before you go, and to hopefully encourage you to book now.
Customize The Journey to Suit You
The Rocky Mountaineer has four routes their trains travel on, but the journey is completely customizable to you with over 65 different experiences to choose from. The best way to determine what is going to work for you is to first download their brochure and to subscribe to their newsletter. With so many experiences to choose from you’ll want to make sure you take the time to find your best fit.
I started my journey in Vancouver with a stay at the Fairmont Vancouver. If I was doing it again, I would choose to spend a few days in Vancouver to take in the sights before starting the train journey. If you only stay 24 hours though, do not miss a visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for a little forest bathing with trees that date back 1,500 years. It’s the perfect way to start your Rocky Mountaineer experience.
Leave Your Fancy Clothes At Home
There is no question that the Rocky Mountaineer is a luxury experience but you can happily leave the formal wear at home. What you will want to pack is comfortable clothes for travel days on the train, comfortable shoes so you can navigate terrain when exploring, and layers. Oh, and a toque, just in case (for my non-Canadian friends, that’s a hat).
Even in June, you might find yourself in need of a sweater, so pack accordingly. This is Canada, eh.
Save Your Appetite
The food onboard the Rocky Mountaineer is not your typical train fare, so never fear, you definitely will not go hungry.
Gold Leaf guests have their own dining room for breakfast and lunch, with a choice of five gourmet options at each seating, whipped up fresh in a kitchen dedicated to each car. Of course, so no one gets peckish, there’s also fresh scones in the morning, and wine and cheese in the afternoon. All of this of course, is served with stunning views whether you’re in the dining car or reclined in your seat.
You Don’t Sleep on the Train (at least not by design)
The Rocky Mountaineer does not have sleeper cars, so while I can confirm you don’t sleep on the train overnight, I can’t guarantee you won’t nod off in your seat. Don’t feel bad if you do though, it’s not hard in Gold Leaf seats that recline, have heating, and adjust for back support. And when you do wake up from a blissful snooze there’s always a view like this waiting for you.
When your day on the train is done the transition from train to hotel is seamless and stress-free. While you’re travelling in luxury by train, your bags are transported separately to your hotel ahead of you. When you arrive in your destination, the room key for your hotel is handed to you and your bags are delivered to your room. Do not stop at the hotel desk to check in, that’s already been done for you.
Gold or Silver Leaf
The biggest difference between Gold and Silver Leaf service levels, in my opinion, is the dining experience on the train. In Gold Leaf, guests have a separate dining area for breakfast and lunch, and a la carte options. In Silver Leaf, guest are served at their seats, with not as many options for food, but no less gourmet.
Silver Leaf Car with oversized dome windows
Gold Leaf Passengers have an observation deck outside to take in the views, but views from inside the train are practically identical.
Your budget will ultimately decide where you choose, but the experience is stellar in either case, so have confidence in whatever you choose.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (And Cruises)
How many ways you can travel with Rocky Mountaineer is up to you, your budget, and how much time you have.
Many guests onboard the Rocky Mountaineer package their trip up with a cruise, but there are also self-drive options available. In 2019, Rocky Mountaineer will offer heli-hiking with CMH Cariboos, further expanding the ways in which you can explore western Canada.
Now the only thing left for you to do is to decide how you want to do it. The Rocky Mountaineer team is waiting for you.