This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of So Scottsdale! magazine
There's something magical about a train ride. Perhaps it's a throwback to a golden age of travel when even the journey was an adventure. You can capture that magic with the best of today's amenities when you board the Rocky Mountaineer for a trip across the Canadian Rockies.For more than 25 years, the Rocky Mountaineer has transported passengers over majestic mountains, past glacier-fed lakes and alongside rushing rivers as they experience a part of Canada only accessible on board the luxury train.
Classic First Passage to the West
The Rocky Mountaineer offers a variety of routes, but one of the most spectacular (and the most popular) is the First Passage to the West. Book the GoldLeaf Deluxe service to get the best experience. You will spend your days in the glass-domed train and your nights at luxury hotels.
The visit begins in Vancouver, a modern gem on Canada's Pacific Coast, about three hours by air from Phoenix. You might stay the night at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, a historic hotel in the heart of the city. You can enjoy dinner and drinks at the hotel's Notch8 Restaurant & Bar, which gives a nod to the hotel's railroad history.
First Day On Board the Train
Your first day starts with a transfer to Vancouver's train depot. As you depart the coast and head into the heart of British Columbia, you'll enjoy a gourmet breakfast while passing through the verdant Fraser Valley and the rushing waters of Hells Gate (part of the Fraser River).
As the day progresses, you can indulge in complimentary adult beverages, or perhaps a cup of tea, as you watch the rolling hills give way to the high desert, with the peaks of the coast and Cascade Mountains in the distance. The glass-domed coach makes it easy to sit back, relax and watch the grandiose spectacle from the comfort of the train.
As night approaches, you'll arrive at Kamloops, a typical Western boomtown. There are a number of fun eateries downtown; try The Noble Pig for local brews and bites, or, for something a bit more upscale, book a table at Terra.
Final Day On Board the Train
You'll leave Kamloops to climb the mountains and head deep into the Canadian Rockies. Another day of gourmet meals and drinks is interspersed with history and majestic views. Today, watch for bears, deer, elk and mountain goats as the train slowly climbs the mountain.
The most spectacular part of the trip is the Spiral Tunnels, an engineering masterpiece —one of the steepest, most scenic railway lines in North America — that lets you breathe in the splendor of the Rockies. The train's outdoor viewing platform is an ideal spot for getting great photos!
Ending Your Journey in Banff
Your journey ends in the quaint resort town of Banff with a stay at the AAA Four Diamond Rimrock Resort Hotel or the Fairmont Banff Springs Resort. Whether you relax at the hotels' spa, explore the town's boutiques, or head up Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola, you will lose your heart to this mountain enclave.