My Rocky Mountaineer Review of First Passage to the West Trip

Rocky Mountaineer Train CanadaSeated for two days on a train. Heaven or hell?

As the Rocky Mountaineer train pulled into their private station in Vancouver, the answer was crystal clear for me. My two days on board, as we swept through the soaring Rocky Mountains between Banff and Kamloops and then twisted our way around the harsh jagged world between there and the city, had been a magnificent experience. Surrounded by excited travellers, many of whom had finally achieved a sought-after bucket list adventure, I felt I had been through something significant in the world of travel.

For over 25 years, this privately owned rail company has transported people through one of the more gorgeous parts of the world, using tracks built by some of the most ingenious engineers of their time. Wrapped up in a unique pampered world, with enthusiastic service, engaging stories and gourmet food, made the two days on the “First Passage to the West” trip something that will stay in my most treasured travel moments of all time.

Cliche-rich scenery between Banff and Kamloops!

Gorgeous. Breathtaking. Stunning. It sounds like a terrible cliché, but those three over-used words are the best ones I can find to describe the scenery as it leaves the quaint city of Banff, deep within the Canadian Rocky Mountains, towards the over-night stop in Kamloops. I had expected the region to be beautiful, but can honestly say that I was not ready for the majesty of what I passed through. I have chosen three of my photographs below to prove it.

Rocky Mountaineer Train Banff to Kamloops

Rocky Mountaineer Train Banff to Kamloops

Rocky Mountains Canada from Rocky Mountaineer Train

Rocky Mountains Canada from Rocky Mountaineer Train

Rocky Mountains Canada from Rocky Mountaineer Train

Rocky Mountains Canada from Rocky Mountaineer Train

Scrumptious food had to compete for this traveller’s attention

With scenes so impressive on all sides of the train, the food served had to be special to be worth giving up valuable staring out of the window time. In Gold Leaf, breakfast and lunch were served in the attractive downstairs restaurant in two sittings, with half the guests eating at each a session. As my photographs below show, the kitchens (which prepare all the meals on the go) made sure that each dish was more than worthy of this traveller’s attention. They were amazing!

Breakfast Pancakes Rocky Mountaineer Train

Breakfast Pancakes Rocky Mountaineer Train

Breakfast Omlette Rocky Mountaineer Train

Breakfast Omelet Rocky Mountaineer Train

Breaded Chicken Lunch Rocky Mountaineer Train

Breaded Chicken Lunch Rocky Mountaineer Train

Seared Tuna Lunch Rocky Mountaineer Train

Seared Tuna Lunch Rocky Mountaineer Train

Very different rugged and rough sights between Kamloops and Vancouver

On the second day of this Passage to the West trip, which transported me from Kamloops to Vancouver, I was transfixed by a totally different world. The scenery changed dramatically from the lush Rockies to a more arid and rugged scenery. It was so different, but still gorgeous as my pictures below illustrate. I enjoyed the variety that the two parts of the journey served up. Something I had not appreciated before boarding.

Rocky Mountaineer Train Kamloops to Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer Train Kamloops to Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer Train Kamloops to Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer Train Kamloops to Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer Train Kamloops to Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer Train Kamloops to Vancouver

All while relaxing in a plush, pampered carriage

I was travelling in Gold Leaf Class, which is the premium way to travel on the train. The double-decked carriage had plush seats, with multiple settings and built-in warmer. There was a glass-domed top, for incredible sightseeing, and stylish restaurant and outdoors open area on the lower level. I urge you to stretch your budget to this class, as the upper deck meant I saw so much more than I suspect the Red and Silver Leaf one-level carriages allowed at times. The trees and vegetation track side would restrict some views on the lower level at times. As we remained in the carriage all day, I also appreciated the space to get up and move around.

Rocky Mountaineer Train Gold Leaf Carriage

Rocky Mountaineer Train Gold Leaf Carriage

Rocky Mountaineer Train Gold Leaf Carriage Seat

Rocky Mountaineer Train Gold Leaf Carriage Seat

Rocky Mountaineer Train Gold Leaf Carriage Restaurant

Rocky Mountaineer Train Gold Leaf Carriage Restaurant

My Video Overview of the trip

Inspired by my story and pictures? Find out more about their trips and prices at RockyMountaineer.com

Disclaimer: I travelled as a guest of Rocky Mountaineer on their “First Passage to the West” trip from Banff to Vancouver in their Gold Leaf Service.

Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 2 million video views per month.

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8 Responses

  1. Elva Poole says:

    I am going on the Rocky Mountaineer From Vancouver. Our trip starts Sept 26th. Can hardly wait!

  2. Went on the Rocky eight years ago went from Vancouver to Calgary. Next year we are doing the return trip from Banff to Vancouver. It was the best trip of my life and I cannot wait to do it again. Thank you for the photos and remarks, brings the whole trip back fresh in my mind again..

  3. Mel says:

    do you get all hot and sunburnt sitting under the glass for so long? Should I bring a hat?

  4. Rick Johnson says:

    Before you spend a penny for a trip on the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer please be sure to read their Terms. Any monies paid for a reservation will NOT be returned—not even if you change your mind an hour later, if COVID shuts the Canadian border down, if an avalanche covers the tracks, if you become hospitalized, if you have a death in the family, if you die. Their paragraph 12 spells it out very clearly and any attempt to cancel the reservation will result in a terse message attesting to their policy.
    Their trip has been on my bucket list for all of my 87 years. My failure to read their Terms cost me $2853.89 although I acted long before an anticipated May trip. Don’t repeat my mistake as you will be subject to the greatest train robbery in existence.

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