Rocky Mountaineer offers a luxury train journey through some of Western Canada’s most dramatic landscapes. How do you plan your own extraordinary train journey? Are you wondering how it all works and what to expect? Here are answers to your most-asked questions about Rocky Mountaineer so you can plan your own journey of a lifetime in the Canadian Rockies.
What Destinations Can I Visit with Rocky Mountaineer?
Rocky Mountaineer travels the rails in Western Canada, giving you a chance to visit magnificent destinations such as Seattle, Vancouver, Whistler, Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper.
There are five different routes you can choose (these are the east-bound options, but you can also choose to go westbound along the same routes):
- First Passage to the West from Vancouver to Lake Louise or Banff via Kamloops (this was my first journey with Rocky Mountaineer and you can read all about my experience here)
- Journey Through the Clouds from Vancouver to Jasper via Kamloops (you can read my wow moments on this journey here)
- Rainforest to Gold Rush from Vancouver to Jasper via Whistler and Quesnel
- Coastal Passage from Seattle to Lake Louise or Banff via Vancouver and Kamloops
- Circle Journeys combining two or more of the routes
Do I Sleep on the Train?
Of all the questions about Rocky Mountaineer I receive, the one asked most often is, “Do I sleep on the train?”
No, you don’t sleep on the train. There are either 2- or 3-day journeys and the train only runs during the day so you can see all of the magnificent sights. At night, you will stay in one of the selected hotels, depending on your class of service. Rocky Mountaineer even handles your luggage, collecting it each morning so that it is waiting in your room when you arrive each evening.
How Many Days is a Rocky Mountaineer Journey?
There are 2-day and 3-day journeys—First Passage to the West and Journey Through the Clouds are 2-day journeys while Rainforest to Gold Rush and Coastal Passage are 3-day journeys. However, your trip will be from 4 days to 13 days, depending on which package you choose.
For example, you can add a 2-day visit in Vancouver, an overnight with sightseeing in Banff, and a transfer to Calgary to the First Passage to the West to create a 7-day vacation. For those who want more time on the train, you can book a Circle Journey that includes an overnight in Vancouver, two days on the train going to Banff, a couple of days in Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper, and then a return to Vancouver with two or three nights on the train back to Vancouver. This could ultimately become a 13-day trip. The journeys run both east-bound and west-bound, so you can begin or end wherever it works best for you. If you download or request a brochure, you can explore all of the options available.
Can I Combine My Train Journey with Another Experience?
Rocky Mountaineer has partnered with Holland America Line so you can add a cruise either before or after your train journey. There are two different 7-night Inside Passage Cruises offered roundtrip from Vancouver to Glacier Bay.
Perhaps you prefer to add a rental car and explore area sights. If you want to leave the driving up to someone else, book a transfer via private car or motorcoach in between various destinations. You can also add excursions such as a panoramic helicopter tour, a visit to the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise, or a tour of Vancouver’s North Shore. There are so many great options available.
What Are the Different Classes of Service Available?
Rocky Mountaineer offers two classes of service—GoldLeaf Service or SilverLeaf Service. The SilverLeaf Service gives you the experience on a single-level glass-dome coach. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are included, and you receive a gourmet three-course meal at your seat. You will stay at a comfortable hotel in a standard room, with transfers between hotels and the train included in your stay.
GoldLeaf Service is in a bi-level, glass-domed coach. You sit upstairs with expansive views, receive complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and enjoy gourmet, three-course meals downstairs in the dining room.
Those in GoldLeaf Service have plush seats upstairs, white tablecloth meals, and premium hotel accommodations (such as Fairmont Hotels) along with transfers between hotels and the train. If you book in GoldLeaf Service, you can also select a room upgrade and receive either a larger room category or one with spectacular views. Guests in GoldLeaf Service have exclusive access to outdoor viewing platforms on each coach, which give you a chance to take in the sights outdoors.
How Are the Meals Onboard Rocky Mountaineer?
You will discover gourmet meals onboard the trains. Executive Chefs Frédéric Couton and Jean Pierre Guerin have created delicious menus using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Those in SilverLeaf Service might have a couple of options available at breakfast and lunch, while those in GoldLeaf Service will receive a full menu of options.
I recommend the Sir Sandford Fleming Eggs Benedict for breakfast in GoldLeaf Service and I’ve enjoyed the salmon dishes and the Alberta meats. There is always a vegetarian option and you can notify Rocky Mountaineer ahead of time if you have specific dietary requirements.
Do I Have an Assigned Seat?
You receive your seat assignment and detailed information about your hotel stays when you check in. If you’re going with friends but book your seats separately, you can notify Rocky Mountaineer ahead of time and they will arrange for you to be seated with your friends. There are two seats on each side of the aisle, but I loved that in GoldLeaf Service you could turn the seats, enabling four people to sit together.
Can I Bring My Children or Pets?
While Rocky Mountaineer allows children, it is at least eight hours on the train each day, without an area for running and exercising, so it is not suggested for young children.
Unfortunately, you cannot bring pets onboard the trip, unless it is a certified service animal. Keep in mind that the train does not stop throughout the day.
Are Rocky Mountaineer Trains Handicap Accessible?
There is an elevator on GoldLeaf Service dome coaches so those who aren’t able to navigate the spiral stairs can get to the dining room, outdoor viewing platform and to get on and off the train. Do be aware that there are a few steps required – for example, getting on and off buses to get to and from the hotels – so, if you need special assistance, let Rocky Mountaineer know so they can make special arrangements.
Are Excursions Included in My Journey?
Depending on which journey you choose, several excursions are already included—for example, admission is usually included to the Vancouver Lookout and the Calgary Tower. Depending on your journey, you might also have a motorcoach sightseeing tour of Banff, a trip on the Banff Gondola, a 12-minute helicopter tour in Banff, sightseeing tours of Vancouver, culinary walking tour to Granville Island near Vancouver, hiking in Jasper National Park, canoeing on Lake Louise, and more. You can absolutely customize your experience to include as much or as little adventure as you like. You can even add in a driving tour or the cruise noted above.
What Can I Expect Onboard Rocky Mountaineer?
Another of the popular questions about Rocky Mountaineer I hear is about what there is to see and do onboard the train. I wondered, before my first journey, if I would get bored spending six to eight hours every day on the train. Instead, I discovered that I wasn’t ready for my days on the train to end. The trains head out of Vancouver and up into the mountains. I loved seeing the city give way to the country as you wind along the Frasier River and climb toward the mountains.
My highlight on the First Passage to the West was viewing the Spiral Tunnels on the approach to Banff.
On the Journey Through the Clouds, I loved getting up close and personal with majestic Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
The friendly faces at Rocky Mountaineer really help you create an unforgettable experience – especially the onboard hosts. Along the way, they point out the sights, share stories, and help keep a watch out for wildlife. One of the thrills for me on my first journey was seeing a mama bear and her cub along the tracks. There are also plenty of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and even eagle sightings along the way.
As you go past some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, the train slows down to what the hosts call “Kodak speed” so you can take it all in. I discovered so many great wow moments onboard the train, many of them from the outdoor viewing platform on the GoldLeaf Service coach.
What Time of Year Should I Take a Rocky Mountaineer Journey?
Rocky Mountaineer operates from mid-April through mid-October and every season offers something different. The most popular times to visit are in the summer and early fall from July through September. During this time, you will see the beautiful green of the meadows as you travel through the Canadian Rockies. There are more people and prices are higher, but days are usually warm and you can enjoy hiking and exploring the outdoors. In April and May, you might run into a bit of snow in the high mountains, but the train is a bit quieter. The baby animals begin to emerge in late April and May and the weather can be unpredictable – but the summer tourists haven’t yet arrived, and the area is quiet and serene. Late September and October, the Rocky Mountains come alive with autumn colors. The days may be chilly and evenings cool, but the vibrant colors as you travel along on the train are the experience of a lifetime. The train does not operate during the winter months.
How Much Does Rocky Mountaineer Cost?
The prices vary, depending on which journey you book, which service level, and the length of your visit. The classic First Passage to the West from Vancouver to Banff, with no add-ins, begins at $1,657 per person, double occupancy, in SilverLeaf Service or $2,252 per person, double occupancy, in GoldLeaf Service. Of course, the 13-day Circle Journey is significantly more and there are a variety of options in between.
Where Can I Make My Reservations and Begin My Journey of a Lifetime?
It’s easy to book your Rocky Mountaineer Journey. Simply visit RockyMountaineer.com to see all of the options and even chat live with a representative. You can also contact your travel agent or consultant to help you create a customized itinerary. I’ve discovered some great life-changing wow moments while I took train journeys with Rocky Mountaineer. I hope that you discover some of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences on Rocky Mountaineer.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with travel, accommodations, and meals for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.