Home » Canada: A ride on the Rocky Mountaineer luxury train through the Wild West

Canada: A ride on the Rocky Mountaineer luxury train through the Wild West

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Canada: A ride on the Rocky Mountaineer luxury train through the Wild West

Mlunch in the middle of the forest. A spectacular waterfall could just be seen. Well firs as far as the eye can see. Mosquitoes dance around ferns. Thin fog still hangs over the trees. But neither moisture nor cold nor mosquitoes disturb the meal. Cloth, serviette, porcelain crockery: Our table is dry. Only the train window separates him from the wilderness.

The waiter serves beefsteak with roasted potato wedges. In addition, a glass of Canadian Sumac Ridge Merlot from 2017. During the main course, the train stands still, the engine driver has to wait for a few freight trains from the opposite direction. Even before the waiter offers a tart with mousse au chocolat for dessert, he rattles off again.

Welcome to the dining car of the Rocky Mountaineer, a Canadian luxury train serving the route of Vancouver am Pacific to Jasper, capital of the national park of the same name in the Canadian province of Alberta. For two days, the Rocky Mountaineer winds its way parallel to several rivers over a distance of 900 kilometers through a breathtaking, almost deserted mountain landscape through Canada’s Wild West.

Source: Infographic WORLD

During the pandemic, the Luxury train, which is famous for its glass panoramic car, take a longer break. It’s now well booked again. 2019 was a record year for the train company, which should be repeated in 2023. The west-east tours (there are three in the program, see below) each start in Vancouver, which has had its own train station since 2005, the Rocky Mountaineer Station.

You can enjoy the best view from the panorama compartment

Chase and Travis, the two stewards, explained the safety regulations right at the beginning of our trip. Fire extinguishers, emergency exits, things like that. Shortly after departure, as the train made its way through the densely built-up suburbs of Vancouver, tea and raisin biscuits were already served.

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Then, after a good two hours, the opposite program: nature, nature, nature. Thanks to the curved panes of glass that reach up to the roof, the panoramic compartments on the upper deck offer the best view. Much of the journey will be along the Fraser River, the longest river in the world Province of British Columbia, known for its abundance of salmon. Fog hangs over the water. Nobody far and wide.

Travel through Canada on the Rocky Mountaineer

Often the scenery is so spectacular that it doesn’t keep passengers in their seats

Which: Lee Foster/Alamy

A staircase leads to the lower part of the carriage, the train restaurant. Everything served here is far better than what is served on regular trains in Canada or the United States USA is on offer. Because on board the Rocky Mountaineer they really cook.

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At the lunch in the forest described above, guests have the choice between steak and Pacific salmon with fennel and mustard sauce. Fries with reheated burgers? Doesn’t exist here. Breakfast is also exquisite: Chase offers fresh strawberry and pineapple juice as a welcome, followed by Eggs Benedict, buttermilk pancakes and a spinach, feta and egg soufflé.

The passengers on this tour are mostly from the USA. Some wanted to do the tour in 2020, then Corona came. Others had plans for Europe: “I actually wanted to take the Orient Express from Venice Wien travel,” says a lady from California, “but the tour was cancelled.” Well then You have.

Im Rocky Mountaineer has two classes

Forest, forest, forest along the Fraser River. In between bridges, some dizzyingly high, and rugged rock formations. A few houses at most. Almost nobody. Back on the upper deck, the constant search for the best view. Some guests are so excited that they keep getting up instead of enjoying the ride in the soft, upholstered chair.

Chase grabs the microphone, explains the importance of the salmon in the river, the fate of the indigenous people, the history of railroad construction. For what was then poor, sparsely populated British Columbia, Canada’s promise to open up rail transport was a reason to join the young state. In 1871 British Columbia became part of the Canadian Confederation founded in 1867, and in 1885 the tracks were laid.

Canada: The Rocky Mountaineer trains are equipped with two locomotives to cope well with the mountain routes

The Rocky Mountaineer trains are equipped with two locomotives to cope well with the mountain routes

Quelle: dpa/picture alliance

The private Rocky Mountaineer has been serving the routes with ten locomotives and 44 passenger cars for a good 30 years. Some of the cars were built in the 1950s and later overhauled, others were new from 1995. There are two classes: SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf Class. The latter is more expensive, but offers more comfortable seats with built-in heating, upscale gastronomy and an exit in the lower part at the end of the train, called a vestibule.

Here passengers can experience the surroundings with all their senses: the whistling and rattling of the train, the howling and squeaking in the curves, the very fresh air (bring a windbreaker!), the freezing cold in the tunnel. And above all nature: the forests, the light breaking through the fog, the course of the river that appears again and again.

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Go to a hotel to sleep

The train meanders past Hell’s Gate. It is the narrowest part of the Fraser River, just 34 meters wide. 750 million liters of water flow through here every day, twice as much as at Niagara Falls. A narrow, red bridge spans the gorge.

British Columbia, Canada: Hell's Gate is the narrowest part of the Fraser River;  750 million liters of water flow through here every day

Hell’s Gate is the narrowest point of the River Fraser; 750 million liters of water flow through here every day

Quelle: Getty Images/suraark

Steward Chase puts the vote: “What music do you want to hear? 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s?” A clear vote for the 70s, not surprising given the dominance of gray-haired people on board. Shortly thereafter, Abbas “Dancing Queen” reverberates from the loudspeakers. And of course baccarat: “Yes, sir, I can boogie.” There is a school trip atmosphere on board.

After music class, Chase switches to a continuing education program. He explains the difference between Canada National and Canadian Pacific companies. Canada is a railroad country with almost 50,000 kilometers of tracks; Chase patiently explains who owns which tracks. Various freight trains pass the neighboring track in the opposite direction. Coal, coal, coal. Tree trunks, tree trunks, tree trunks. Containers, containers, containers. Almost endless. One time we count 172 wagons, another time 186.

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The initially muddy river water is now crystal clear. But the forest sometimes looks damaged, and traces of devastating fires can be seen again and again: every summer huge tracts of forest are burning in Canada. Just before arriving in Kamloops, a chef will serve freshly baked cookies – food is a real priority on this train!

In the small town, 345 meters high, the passengers disembark the train after 460 kilometers. The bus takes you to a hotel in the city center; The Rocky Mountaineer does not have sleeping compartments. The luggage is already in the room.

The imposing waterfalls can only be seen from the train

The bus transfer to the train the next morning works smoothly. Today we head straight north, parallel to the North Thompson River. Dense clouds at first, but then the sun breaks through and creates high spirits in the panorama car.

The river is wide, dotted with sand islands, lined with swamps and reeds. The mountains are getting higher. From time to time grazing cows can be seen, but no hikers; sometimes deer jump across the meadows in the distance. The train is getting higher, today Johnny Cash is rattling through the loudspeaker.

Canada: At Pyramid Creek Falls in British Columbia, the water plunges almost 100 meters down

At Pyramid Creek Falls in British Columbia, the water plunges almost 100 meters down

Quelle: Getty Images/Paul Grace Photography Somersham

The first snow crests. Suddenly there was a hissing sound that got louder and louder. And then they appear: the Pyramid Creek Falls. The water falls almost 100 meters down here. “You can’t see the falls from any road, only from the train,” says Chase, sounding proud.

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In the afternoon more and more mountains covered with snow. Chase tells of bears and moose that live off the salmon here. “There you see Mount Robson, 3954 meters high” – almost 1000 meters higher than that Zugspitze! Mount Robson is the highest peak in Canada Rocky Mountains.

Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Quelle: Getty Images/Nina Raingold

The mountain with its white head rises gracefully into the landscape, the Americans pull out their cameras. Everything here feels decidedly northern. A look at the world map shows that Mount Robson is located approximately at the level of Bremen. Canada just lacks what makes us mild temperatures: the Gulf Stream, the heat pump of Northern Europe.

The train approaches the terminus: Jasper, 1062 meters high. The Jasper National Park is the largest in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Most passengers want to spend a few more days there, experiencing nature directly instead of on the train.

Steward Chase serves one last snack – cheese, crackers, grapes. “Beer? Wine? Something else?” he asks with his usual charm. Is 4:45 p.m. too early for a red wine? Canada’s geography alleviates the guilty conscience. The train is crossing the border from British Columbia to Alberta at this moment, changing from the Pacific time to the Mountain Time zone. So from one second to the next it’s already 5:45 p.m. Just the right time for a glass of Merlot.

Information on train travel through Canada:

Getting there: Frankfurt-Vancouver non-stop with Lufthansa or Air Canada, Lufthansa also flies out München. Connecting flights with KLM or Air France.

Rocky Mountaineer: The luxury train will operate three routes from Vancouver until October 2023: via Quesnel to Jasper, via Kamloops to Jasper and via Kamloops to Banff, as well as in the opposite direction. The tour described (“Journey through the Clouds”) lasts two days with one hotel night, from 1426 euros in the SilverLeaf Class, from 1930 euros in the GoldLeaf Class; three, four or five overnight stays are also possible (rockymountaineer.com). Organizers also offer tours across Canada by train – with The Canadian from Toronto and the Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver, 16 days including flights from 6350 euros geoplan-reisen.defrom 7920 euros at lernidee.de.

Further information: destinationcanada.com

Participation in the trip was supported by Destination Canada. Our standards of transparency and journalistic independence can be found at axelspringer.com/de/werte/downloads.

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