|The Rocky Mountaineer rounds a curve with vistas of |
lake and mountains all around.
I’ve settled into my seat on the Rocky Mountaineer train when the hostess comes by with a warm, refreshing washcloth. Soon we’ll have breakfast, she says, as the train with a reputation for impeccable dining and service rolls by Eisenhower’s Peak and Castle Peak, mountains that preview scenery we’ll see on our two-day train ride from Banff in Alberta province to Vancouver on the western coast of Canada.
|Majestic mountains provide scenic landscapes along the way.|
The route starts in Calgary, Alberta, travels 307 miles through breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery around Banff and Lake Louise and then on to Kamloops in British Columbia, where passengers disembark for the night. Trains run only during daylight, so guests won’t miss any of Canada’s snow-capped peaks, gleaming lakes, and green river valleys along the way. From Kamloops the next day, we’ll ride 285 miles to Vancouver, arriving late afternoon.Creating a rail route
|Monument at Craigellachie|
When the United States purchased Alaska in 1867, it was feared that British Columbia might be annexed by the U.S. British Columbia promised to become part of Canada in exchange for completion of a transcontinental railroad.
The Rocky Mountains have always been the biggest obstacle for establishing a southern transportation route across Canada because building through mountain passes was very costly. But the project was undertaken by Canada’s two prominent railroad companies, and the last spike was driven into the ground at Craigellachie (noted by a monument we pass) in 1895, ultimately uniting the country.So many “wow” moments
About mid-morning we approach the Rocky Mountain Trench, a section of flat land that separates the Rockies from the Columbia Mountains. With those ranges and the Purcell Mountains in the background, we spend plenty of time in the vestibule, the open-air observation area between coaches. Although we have excellent views at our seats on the upper deck through a wide wall of windows that extends overhead, we feel more connected to the scenery when outside—and it’s the best spot for taking pictures.
|Rolling hills, mountains, and blue skies provide scenic views |
on the Rocky Mountaineer train ride.
|Large expanses of windows allow passengers to|
enjoy passing scenery from the comfort of their seats.
Before daylight fades, the Rocky Mountaineer enters a semi-desert region. As we travel onto Thompson Plateau toward Kamloops, our destination for the night, the flatland is covered with scraggly sagebrush and rabbit bush vegetation. We learn that ranching and fur trading are important to the economy of Kamloops, whose central location has also made it a tournament capital for many sports.
|Larry enjoys a cool drink |
on the train.
After our arrival in Kamloops, a bus takes us to Five Forty Hotel, where we find a lime green post-it note on our bathroom mirror that reads “Be a little crazy now and then.” Great advice, we decide!
Part 2 of Ride the Rails through the Canadian Rockies will detail the second day’s journey and arrival in Vancouver.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier