The Rocky Mountaineer is the largest privately run passenger railroad in North America. It has been in operation since 1990 and has a sustainable business model that runs luxury tourist trains a couple of times a week seasonally (May through September) on three different two-day, all daylight routes through the Rocky Mountains along the tracks of CN and CP. These trains all have overnight stays (in Kamloops or Quesnel) with a hotel room included in the train fares (that start at $911 for the 2012 season) en-route. Passengers must travel the full route (except for detraining in Banff on Calgary-bound trains, or the reverse), intermediate travel is prohibited. Trains run three different classes of service: RedLeaf gives a seat in a traditional rail car with included cold breakfast and lunch service, and an open window in the vestibule to allow for open air viewing. SilverLeaf upgrades the rail car to a single-level car with dome like windows (similar to a SuperLiner Sightseer Lounge). GoldLeaf is one of the most luxurious coach seating rail services in the world. It provides seating in a double-decker Colorado Railcar Ultra Dome with two-by-two seating in the upper level beneath an almost fully wrap-around dome that even puts the aisle seat under glass, only the aisle itself doesn't have glass above it. Downstairs is a kitchen and dining area that provides gourmet breakfast and lunch (all included even liqueur) along with about a ten-foot-by-ten-foot open air platform (the back porch) that allows fresh air to be taken in and reflection free photography. The train unfortunately does allow passengers to change and go to another car so each becomes its own little micro-community complete with from 1 (in Red Leaf) to 4 plus a culinary team (in Gold Leaf) assigned to the car that provides a running commentary of the scenery and all of the included meals and beverage services. The Rocky Mountaineer does sell one-way tickets but most passengers go on one of their longer package rail journeys. All of my coverage is from going on the last of the 2011 season Golden Circle via Whistler Vacation Package. On this trip I visited and photographed every station used except Calgary. The Rocky Mountaineer's Marketing department in 2010 rebranded all of the routes (the old ones are in parenthesis).
- First Passage to the West (Kicking Horse) Route:
This trip provides the only regularly scheduled passenger rail service across Kicking Horse Pass that is the historic and original CP Rail Route through the famous Spiral Tunnels and over Rodgers Pass on the first day from Calgary and Banff to Kamloops where the overnight stop is made before continuing down the Fraser Canyon to Vancouver. In season it generally runs twice a week.
I rode this route starting in Banff back to Vancouver on the last trip of the season in early October 2011
Journey Through the Clouds (Yellowhead) Route
This trip follows entirely the same tracks used by VIA's Canadian except entirely in daylight. The first day from Vancouver it is attached too (or not if the trips are not operating on the same day) up the Fraser River Canyon to Kamloops before continuing over the CN Route to Jasper. It is Rocky Mountaineer's shortest Route. In season it generally runs twice a week.
I have not ridden this train but this entire route in daylight: the Vancouver to Kamloops leg aboard the Kicking Horse Route and the North Kamloops to Jasper day aboard VIA's Canadian
- Rainforest to Gold Rush (Fraser Discovery) Route
This train originates in Whistler and is the longest Rocky Mountaineer journey (two full 12-hour days) over the old Pacific Great Eastern (BC Rail) railway. On the first day, originating in Whistler it runs by Anderson and Seton Lakes before going up to the Cariboo Plateau to the overnight stop in Quesnel. The second day follows the headwaters of the Fraser River passing Prince George (where it is joined by VIA's Skeena on the same tracks) through the Rocky Mountain Trench and ending in Jasper.
I rode on this route out of Whistler as far as Shelley where the locomotives broke down on the last trip of the season at the end of September 2011.
The Whistler (Mountaineer) Sea to Sky Climb
This is a 3.5 hour one-way trip from North Vancouver to Whistler on the old BC Rail tracks. The train runs in season (May to September) five times a week: northbound in the Morning and Southbound in the afternoon. It used to offer two classes of service Whistler Classic and Whistler Dome but as off 2012 only Classic Service will be offered (the domes have been displaced to become SilverLeaf Service). Classic service consists of Red Leaf Coaches with an included cold Breakfast northbound or Refreshments southbound. All passengers are free to wander the train and receive access to the Henry Pickering, an open air observation car.
I rode northbound on September 28, 2011, on the last northbound trip of the season that was also the last trip for ever for Whistler Dome Service
Last Updated: 16 January, 2010
This website is not allifiated with Rocky Mountaineer, there official website is here
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