Aerial view of a train making its way along the side of a forested mountain, heading toward the camera. In the distance are snow-covered mountain peaks.

Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tour

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British Columbia’s diverse scenery, from dense rainforest to arid, desert-like landscapes and the Rocky Mountains, can be explored in many ways. Train journeys are a classic Canadian adventure that allow you to enjoy a slower pace, see wildlife, and explore unique destinations. Rocky Mountaineer, a BC-based luxury train operator, provides access to sights that you don’t get by car. Here are three reasons why a rail journey through BC will genuinely move you.

Seton Lake | Rocky Mountaineer

Changing perspectives

From the big, bold mountains of the Canadian Rockies to man-made marvels like the Spiral Tunnels, travelling by train gives guests a unique vantage point over the ever-changing vistas of BC. Watch the scenery blend from verdant farmland east of Vancouver to desert-like landscapes along the Thompson River between Lytton and Kamloops, where rock hoodoo formations stand near mineral-rich, scrub-brush hills.

Head north from Kamloops on the Journey through the Clouds route and pass by cascading Pyramid Falls, located north of Blue River. Watch for Mount Robson—the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 metres (12,972 feet)—a mountain so high it has its own weather system at the peak. Or, take the Rainforest to Gold Rush route and feel like you’re gliding across Seton Lake as the train track hugs the mountain walls south of Lillooet.

On the historic First Passage to the West route, travel alongside the churning Kicking Horse River; in the spring you might see kayakers braving its rapids as the glacial melt rushes through. Or get views deep into the forest as the train passes the over 90m-high Stoney Creek Bridge on the eastern slopes of Mount Tupper.

Engineering buffs will enjoy views of famous railway features such as the historic Cisco Crossing, where the Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) rail lines exchange sides, and the Spiral Tunnels on the CP line at Big Hill, which opened in 1909 and is one of the steepest railway climbs in North America. The track switches back in three-quarter circles inside two mountains, allowing trains to make the ascent or descent safely.



Rocky Mountaineer

Spotting wildlife

Diverse landscapes bring diverse wildlife, and train guests experience a safari from their seats as they keep a lookout for swooping eagles and ospreys nesting atop old telephone poles. Close to Kamloops and its drier climate you may spot bighorn sheep, and as you journey past Revelstoke into the Rockies, watch for elk. In spring and fall, you may see black bears foraging for berries.


Rocky Mountaineer

Sharing stories

It’s not just local wildlife that makes train journeys such a special place to connect. Hearing new stories and meeting unique characters are two of the most charming aspects of train travel. Train journeys allow the time and space to meet fellow guests, while learning from onboard Hosts about the communities that developed around the railway lines. From the Cariboo’s Quesnel, a historic Gold Rush-era town on the confluence of the Fraser and Quesnel rivers, to the semi-arid city of Kamloops, travelling by train takes guests on a trip through time. More modern stops such as the mountain-fringed ski resort of Whistler, and multi-cultural Vancouver, nestled between mountains, forests, and beaches, let guests arrive in style to BC’s most visited destinations.

A Rocky Mountaineer train journey is one of the best ways to travel across BC. Spring and fall are the most colourful times to visit, with various flora and fauna making an appearance as the seasons change, plus you’ll beat the summer rush.


Originally published in April of 2018.

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