It was an early April morning in Vancouver when I boarded North America’s most luxurious train – something I’d been looking forward to for a long time. Returning colleagues had waxed lyrical about the mountain scenery, the dining and, yes, the free-flowing drinks.
However, as we wound along the coast, plunged into the lush greenery of the Fraser Valley and mapped the dramatic river canyons of the Cascade Mountains, something else caught my eye – the wildlife. As April marks the end of hibernation, I was lucky enough to spot a fantastic number of bears, alongside the likes of moose and grey wolves. Canadian hospitality is no myth; the staff were always on hand to point out any animal sightings, with the train conveniently slowing down to take it all in. Their stories on the region's gold-rush history also helped bring it all to life.
That’s not to say that the scenery was any less impressive. My two-day route between Vancouver and Banff, overnighting in Kamloops, saw us kiss glittering lakes, map rushing rivers and traverse high mountain passes. Of course, it’s all watched over by the majestic peaks of the Rockies.
I was also lucky enough to experience both the domed SilverLeaf and the double-level GoldLeaf carriages. Although the panoramic windows, gourmet meals and complimentary alcoholic beverages of the former are a delight, I’d highly recommend upgrading. With the restaurant below and the main seating on top, your raised vantage point allows you to look out over the treeline for the best views. There’s even an exclusive outdoor viewing platform. Whatever you choose, the journey is magnificent; see below for a curated selection of the train’s best itineraries.
For those short on time, this is the ideal introduction to both the train and the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Following Emma’s route, it traces the region’s pioneering history, bringing you out of Vancouver’s city charms to great river valleys, the emerald shimmer of Lake Louise and Yoho National Park’s monolithic glaciers. Before you finish with the wild-west delights of Calgary, the included excursions are magnificent, ranging from gondola rides to a helicopter flight.
This is a full loop of the Rockies, adding in an extra return leg to Emma’s journey. Travelling on different tracks, you’ll be treated to yet more majestic scenery, from mighty glaciers to pyramid waterfalls. You’ll also take in the world city of Vancouver, the Victorian charm of Vancouver Island’s forested archipelago and the best of the Rocky Mountains. Between stays among Lake Louise’s otherworldly turquoise and the alpine chic of mountain-framed Banff and Jasper, you’ll even step right onto the mighty Athabasca Glacier.
Simply, this is the ultimate. Again, starting in Vancouver, you’ll be brought out for a fortnight-long dive into the depths of the Rockies, staying in luxe accommodation and travelling between its most iconic sights. The likes of mountain-ringed Whistler and Banff’s alpine-village charm grab the headlines, while excursions include cable-car rides and trips onto glaciers on all-terrain vehicles.