I had never been more excited than to visit the beautiful British Columbia region of Canada and experience one of those ‘bucket list’ journeys travelling on Rocky Mountaineer. It was early May and the tree-lined streets of Vancouver were in full bloom. I would recommend 2-3 nights here to experience all that Vancouver has to offer, such as a trip to the beautiful Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Granville Island with its food market, brewery and distillery. For lunch I opted for the pierogi (filled dumplings) which is a favourite comfort food of the locals, but there’s always the classic poutine (chips, cheese curds and gravy) available!
Setting off early to join the Rocky Mountaineer, there was a palpable excitement in the air as we arrived at the station. Photos were captured outside of various families, couples and groups all coming together for this journey of a lifetime. I travelled in GoldLeaf which is an elevated experience offering full glass dome windows with panoramic views from your reclining custom-heated seat on the upper level, and restaurant serving gourmet a'la carte meals on the lower level. There is also an exclusive outdoor viewing platform which lets you take in the sounds and smells as you pass through the various regions from Vancouver to Banff.
Breakfast is served as we departed onwards to Kamloops where accommodation is provided for the night. The industrial area of Vancouver quickly turns into a plateau of rivers and grassy plains. As we climbed up through the valley, the river deepens and the water twists and turns through the rapids – a sight to behold as you look down through the dome windows. Lunchtime views brought arid canyon scenery and the warmest breeze as we drifted by in the outdoor viewing platform at 20-30mph with a Rocky Mountaineer signature cocktail in hand.
It’s an early 5am start departing from Kamloops to Banff as the journey continued into the heart of the Rockies on day two. From farmland to wide open lakes, mineral rich rivers to snow-capped peaks, this really was the best scenery I had ever experienced. One tip is to have your camera ready as we saw plenty of wildlife such as osprey, eagles, mountain goats and marmot. The bears are just awakening this time of year but the hosts on-board mentioned these are often seen throughout the summer. The hosts are very knowledgeable and will engage in stories about the historic sights, scenery and wildlife throughout the journey.
Arriving late into Banff, it was even more spectacular to wake up the following morning amongst the grandest mountain range in North America. We took a trip to Yoho National Park and Lake Louise which was awe inspiring, and I would recommend staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for 1-2 nights where in the summer you can opt for a multitude of hikes in the area. Back into Banff, we took the Banff Gondola which provided outstanding scenery looking out across the peaks and down into Banff Town. Many of the hotels in Banff have outdoor pools and hot tubs which are perfect after a day of sightseeing or hiking. There are also a lot of shops, bars and restaurants in Banff so would suggest 2-3 nights here to get the full Rocky Mountain experience.
Discover more about the Mountaineer and our itineraries here.