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.
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!
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.
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.
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.