Sue and I boarded the Rocky Mountaineer in Vancouver on route, over two days, to Kamploops and Banff. Our onward journey to Jasper was by road coach along the Icefields Parkway Highway (go to page). From Jasper we again travelled, over two days, by the Rocky Mountaineer to back to Kamloops and Vancouver.
All four days of the train journey were very comfortable and extremely well organised with two hosts and a chef in each carriage, great food and regular drinks from the trolley. Our luggage was taken forward separately and was put in our hotel room before our arrival. Transfers to and from the train and hotels were faultless. The company celebrate the start of the journey at their dedicated station in Vancouver with coffee and piano music. A piper plays before the ceremonial call of ‘All Aboard!’ and during the boarding of the train. As the train leaves the station the staff line up to wave it off. Great fun!
Most importantly, the scenery was stunning. We were very lucky with the air conditions in two respects. The smoke from the 700 forest fires in this region of British Columbia and Washington State had finally blown away and the weather had cleared to full sun, pure blue skies and fluffy white clouds. The coach windows are cleaned daily so I was able to put my camera lens right against the glass to take photos along the way. Some loss of sharpness was inevitable but I guess that it records the sense of movement!
Here’s a shot of Castle Mountain in the Banff National Park.
It was also possible to stand and lean out at an open window in the ‘vestibule’ where two coaches join to get better shots. This was also a great opportunity to meet and chat with other travellers, all of whom had cameras in hand.
The rail line is single track and one way for much of its length and clings onto the sides of the valleys, often overhanging precipitous drops into canyons and rivers. The photo below was taken as the train was passing Hell’s Gate on the narrowest bridging point of the Fraser River.
The gallery below contains a selection of shots from the train.
The weather was so fine that mountains which are only free of clouds for an average of about 12 days per year were completely visible against a relatively clear sky. We were particularly lucky to see the whole of Mount Robson.