The Rocky Mountaineer is one of the finest sightseeing trains in Canada, and a contender for the best in the world. Beyond the service and style offered by the Rocky Mountaineer trains, it’s the sightseeing that can’t be beat.
Travelers who prefer the journey to be as much an experience as the destination will surely love a journey on the Rocky Mountaineer, but beyond the general descriptions of mountain and forest – what can travelers expect to see along the way?
Rocky Mountaineer runs two trains (the Rocky Mountaineer and the Whistler Mountaineer) and four routes linking the Coastal city of Vancouver to Calgary and Jasper in the Rockies. All the routes are beautiful, but a particular favourite is the Yellowhead Route which travels from Vancouver to Jasper. Make the most of your journey with this detailed sightseeing guide to highlights along the way.
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From Vancouver to Calgary on Rocky Mountaineer’s Yellowhead Route
When traveling east to Calgary, the coastal city of Vancouver is your starting point. Nestled between the Coast Mountains (home to Whistler resort) and the big blue Pacific, Vancouver is a cosmopolitan city that maintains strong ties to the outdoors. On clear days locals head outside to run the Sea Wall, hike Grouse Mountain, or browse the boutiques, cafes, and patios lining Robson Street, South Granville, and west 4th avenue.
Make the most of your time in Vancouver by enjoying the city’s restaurants, shops and galleries as well as adventures outside – such as strolling Stanley Park, checking out the architecture in Gastown, or traveling outside the city to explore the nearby mountains.
Boarding the Rocky Mountaineer, you’ll quickly leave behind Vancouver’s cityscapes for the lush green Fraser Valley. The Fraser Valley boasts plenty of fertile farlmand due to its proximity to the Fraser River.
The Fraser River is the longest in BC and the 5th longest in Canada. As you travel alongside it, you’ll notice its waters changing from a muddy brown to a milky green. This is due to the high levels of sediment in the water as well as plenty of rapids. The Fraser River’s turbulence belies a thriving ecosystem, producing more salmon than any other river system in the world!
The excitement of the Fraser culminates at Hell’s Gate, an attraction located at the narrowest point in the Fraser River. The sight and sound of the thundering waters only hint at the magnitude of this pass, where as much as 909,218,000 litres (200 million) gallons of water surge through the 33.53 metre (110 foot) gorge each minute.
As you exit the Coast Mountains, you’ll emerge into the beautiful Fraser Canyon, a natural canyon with sides of up to 600 metres (1980) feet. This canyon extends all the way to Hope.
From the town of Hope to that of Kamloops, your journey will see you through a landscape of mountains, countryside and lakes. You will travel through Monck and Lac Le Jeune Provincial Parks, climb through the Great Bear Snow Shed, crest the summit of the Coquihalla Pass and cross the top of Thompson Plateau.
You will stop for the night in Kamloops, a charming town in the Okanogan Valley. The weather is warm and sunny in spring and summer, and winter snow in nearby Sun Peaks beckons to skiiers. Kamloops also plays host to Rocky Mountaineer’s dinner theatre performances, the Two River Junction Musical Revue® and the Great Canadian Lumberjack Show.
Back on the train after your night in Kamloops, you’ll quickly discover the sightseeing potential of the mountain scenery of the Canadian Rockies.
An early highlight will be views of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies. At a height of 3,956.5 metres (12,972 feet) and dropping into Berg Lake in the North and Kinney Lake in the South, this heavily glaciated mountain towers over the peaks that surround it.
As you continue traveling through the Rockies, you will pass the spectacular Pyramid Falls. This waterfall cascades 91.5 metres (300 feet) beside the train tracks, and to maximize your sightseeing the train will slow to allow for an up-close view.
A different but equally impressive vision is the Albreda Glacier. Albreda, like other glaciers in the Rockies, is a permanent snowfield (the amount of snowfall exceeds snowmelt each year). The weight of accumulated snow compresses layers beneath it into ice, which then melts, pushing the newly formed glacier downhill. This movement grinds the rocks beneath it into a fine powder, which, when deposited into the lakes and rivers surrounding the glacier, turns the water into a beautiful shade of turquoise blue.
Your arrival in Jasper National Park marks the end of your journey by rail, but also the beginning of the sightseeing opportunities in the Canadian Rockies. Jasper National Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1907, and remains one of the largest protected areas in the world. This is accessible Canadian wilderness at its best, and the town of Jasper makes a convenient base to explore the hiking trails, lakes and wildlife of the surrounding area.
Although your journey by the Rocky Mountaineer Yellowhead Route may be over in Jasper, your sightseeing experience is anything but. Consider traveling from Jasper to Banff along the Icefields Parkway, the most beautiful drive in the country, before exploring the beautiful sights of Banff and Lake Louise.