I’m a sucker for the romance of train travel, and spring is the ideal time to get back on track. The iconic, BC-based Rocky Mountaineer rail service launches its seasonal First Passage to the West route from Vancouver to Banff starting April 23.
Trains are the historic connectors of western identity, and Rocky Mountaineer trains single handedly elevated western train travel from necessity to scenic luxury. The family-owned rail service has won 7 World Travel Awards since its start in 1990, including the recently announced “World’s Leading Travel Experience by Train” at the 2011 WTAs.
April travel into the Canadian Rockies – a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site – promises snow-capped mountains, flowers in bloom, bursting waterfalls and plenty of bears, eagles and the occasional lanky moose. Find out more about the spring getaways from Vancouver to Banff after the jump.
First Passage to the West logistics
Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West route is a 4-day, 3-night trip with stays in Kamloops and Banff. The trip is available eastbound or westbound.
Although you get to retrace the steps of 19th century explorers, there’s no roughing it with the Rocky Mountaineer. The service comes in 3 levels, ranging from GoldLeaf (super fancy coach with panoramic views from a 2-level, glass-domed coach + 5-star dining) to the standard RedLeaf (classic, roomy coach with meals and snacks).
Rocky Mountaineer launched their Silverleaf Service in 2012, which falls between luxe Gold and basic Red, with panoramic views from oversized windows in a single-level dome coach – 167% larger viewing area than RedLeaf service.
What you’ll see on the way
- Wildlife including bears, mountain goats, elk, big horn sheep, moose, osprey and eagles.
- Spring flowers in bloom, new leaves on the trees, a surprise morning dusting of snow in Banff and Lake Louise, waterfalls bursting at the seams, and a fresh batch of “rock flour” silt in the lakes, causing the water to reflect an emerald green.
- The rushing waters of Hell’s Gate in the Fraser Canyon.
- The steep slopes and rock sheds along the Thompson River.
- The majestic, snow-capped Canadian Rockies and the province of Alberta.
- Craigellachie, where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven.
- Lake Louise: An 2.5-km-long, 90-metre deep alpine lake, known for its sparkling blue waters, is situated at the base of impressive glacier-clad peaks.
- Rogers Pass, the Kicking Horse Canyon, the Spiral Tunnels and the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies.