aboard! Time to
go clickity-clacking the Canadian Rockies.
most of Western Canada is painted white by a blanket of dense snow between
November and April, now is the time to start thinking about, or planning for,
that dream trip to the Canadian Rockies.
the rails from Vancouver, British Columbia to Jasper, Alberta was one of the
most relaxing, most scenic, most memorable, trips I have ever taken. Come along with me as I take you on a trip
across a land of abundant wildlife, majestic snowy
peaks, glittering glacial lakes, roaring waterfalls and towering trees.
husband and I donned our Rocky Mountaineer engineer’s caps and boarded the
Rocky Mountaineer train, for one of the optional rail tours offered by Rocky Mountaineer Vacations. We were eager to ride the rails across that same historic route that would
reveal the scenic wonders of the Canadian Rockies. And to think, all of this was to be up close
and in daylight hours.
Guests onboard the Rocky Mountaineer train can choose
from two classes of service…RedLeaf or GoldLeaf Service. RedLeaf Service,
similar to traditional rail coach environment, provides guests with assigned,
spacious, comfortable reclining seats, large picture windows, and at-your-seat
meal service, in a non-smoking, air-conditioned rail coach.
The 35 RedLeaf coaches, classically styled railcars
built in 1954, have been upgraded a number of times. RedLeaf Service also offers individual
attention and colorful, interpretative, commentary provided by an Onboard
Chilled breakfasts and luncheon selections like
British Columbia salmon and Alberta beef are served airline-style at your
seat. You will not miss a moment of the
spectacular scenery. Complimentary
snacks, tea, coffee, and soft drinks are made available throughout the
journey. RedLeaf Service also offers
forward facing seats able to rotate to accommodate groups of four, restroom
facilities in each coach, and open-air vestibules at the end of all coaches.
Travel onboard the bi-level GoldLeaf Service dome
coach offers the same attentive standards enhanced by a luxurious golden
touch. The 12 GoldLeaf bi-level dome
coaches, custom-built exclusively for Rocky Mountaineer Railtours Company, were
first introduced in 1995.
dome coach, I could understand why everybody raves about Rocky Mountaineer
GoldLeaf Service. From the upper level
seating area we would have a 360-degree view of the stunning and constantly
changing vistas outside our window.
went the champagne cork as Onboard Attendant Keith toasted the 76 passengers in
our dome car with a Welcome Aboard Mimosa Cocktail. “Here’s to the most
spectacular train trip in the world,” Keith said. “Cheers!”
But the pampering did not stop there.
As we descended from the upper level dome car down a
10-step spiral staircase to the main level dining room, the aroma of breakfast
being prepared wafted from the galley. Comfort, luxury, and delicious food were to be found in the
GoldLeaf Dining Room where white linen, gleaming tableware, and fresh flowers
cuisine such as Bison and Eggs for breakfast and Wild Mushroom Chowder and
Baked Wild British Columbia Salmon for lunch.
and spectacular views…a gorge that explodes with 200 million turbulent gallons
of water a minute; a bridge as high as a skyscraper; and a tunnel that doubles
back on itself. A true feast for the
Exiting the dining room, one passes two very
important spots on the train…the restrooms and the gift shop. The former needs no explanation. The latter is well stocked with ‘bear
necessities’ and train trivia such as bear tee shirts, bobblehead train
engineers, engineer caps, and wooden train whistles.
city of Vancouver to Kamloops in British Columbia’s semi-arid interior. Enroute we passed through the fertile Fraser
Valley and the scenic Fraser Canyon. A
highlight of the canyon occurred when the train slowed down for passengers to
photograph Hell’s Gate, where the torrential waters of the mighty, muddy Fraser
River pass through the canyon’s walls at its narrowest point.
trained followed the South Thompson River.
As the train approached the city of Kamloops, timberland turned into a
semi-arid desert with a fascinating hillside landscape. Kamloops Lake is reputed to be the home of
Canada’s version of the Loch Ness Monster…the Ogopogo Monster. Lloyds of London has offered $1-million for
an official sighting of the Ogopogo Monster.
Kamloops (population 85,000), in
the heart of the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia, was the location
of our overnight stop between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. This hospitable city was named Kamloops (derived from a Shuswap Indian word meaning “meeting
place”) because it is nestled at a point in the valley where the North and
South Thompson Rivers meet.
motor-coached to our hotel. Having
freshened up, we were whisked away to the Two River Junction Dinner Theatre and
Early the next morning, we boarded
the train for the trip to Jasper. Of the
555 passengers (292 GoldLeaf and 263 RedLeaf) aboard the Rocky Mountaineer to
Kamloops, only 233 passengers (135 GoldLeaf and 98 RedLeaf) remained on our
train for the trip to Jasper. The others
took alternate train routes to Lake Louise or Banff where motor coaches would
take us a couple of days later.
along the Thompson River through rolling plateaus into the snowy peaks of the
Monashee and Cariboo Mountains. Our
journey continued past Pyramid Falls, the Alberta Icefields and Mt.
Robson. The peak of Mt. Robson, the
highest in the Canadian Rockies (12,972-feet), was obscured by cloud cover.
|ROUNDING THE BEND TOWARDS JASPER|
Shortly thereafter we entered
Jasper National Park where we said goodbye to the Rocky Mountaineer and checked
into the Jasper Park Lodge for the next leg of our epic Canadian Rockies
Four days into our fabulous
mountain escape, I found there was one serious problem. I had already caught a severe case of Rocky
Mountain High for which my physician husband told me there is no cure.
JANET STEINBERG is an
award-winning Travel Writer and a Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY
in Mariemont, Ohio.