The Rocky Mountaineer: A Luxury Train Ride Where The Destination is the Journey

The Rocky Mountaineer: A Luxury Train Ride Where The Destination is the Journey
| 4 min read

Although we travel more today than ever before, the modern version of travel is hurried, it’s about seeing and doing something new and different nearly every waking moment. A journey by train, however, truly forces you to slow down. There’s no multi-tasking as on cruise ships where you can swim, rock climb and zip line all while the sailing takes place. On trains, the journey itself is the primary activity. And in the case of the Rocky Mountaineer, this experience includes awe-inspiring scenery outside your window at every turn, luxurious meals and fabulous service. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the legendary Rocky Mountaineer has hosted countless celebrities, appeared in television shows and movies and has even been the backdrop for a few real-life love stories.

The luxurious train, food, and service

All aboard the Rocky Mountaineer

Although there are various categories of seating on the Rocky Mountaineer, the most visually stunning experience comes with GoldLeaf service, the only class of seat that includes the train’s unique bi-level, glass domed cars. The panoramic glass windows and glass ceiling in the GoldLeaf cars mean there is no obstruction between you and the expansive, spectacular landscape. Introduced in 1995, the glass-domed cars are the train’s biggest claim to fame and offer an ideal way to view larger than life scenery such as the Canadian Rockies. The seats in this level of service are inviting leather recliners that are oversized, comfortable, and even have a heating function.

Imagine sitting in a deluxe living room recliner, all while passing by towering, majestic mountains; pastoral meadows and glacier-fed lakes filled with ethereal jade green water. Throughout the day in GoldLeaf service, there are free beverages, fresh fruit and snacks. In the morning, there’re scones and tea, in the afternoon wine and cheese. But the true highlight is the outstanding food served in the GoldLeaf dining car. The setting in the dining room is elegant yet modern, linen tablecloths, china, and picture windows at each table.

The food is prepared fresh each day by executive chefs. It is easily five star quality, and will likely be among the most memorable meals you will ever have on a train. The menu is a la carte and offers numerous tempting options. Notable breakfast selections include scrambled eggs served with caviar and salmon; eggs Benedict and omelets. For lunch each day, there’s a freshly prepared soup and salad, followed by entrees ranging from vegetarian options, to low calorie selections and hearty pork, beef or pasta dishes. The desserts meanwhile were deliciously indulgent - chocolate dishes, apple rhubarb crumbles and ice creams, all elegantly plated and creatively garnished.

The Rocky Mountaineer also offers SilverLeaf service and RedLeaf service, both of which provide a slightly more budget friendly alternative for those wanting to experience this legendary train.

Visited this place?

A visual journey awaits you on the Rocky Mountaineer

Views from GoldLeaf glass domed car

A trip aboard the Rocky Mountaineer is a visual journey. The highlights each day involve spotting a bear or long horned sheep; a ghost town from the region’s colorful gold rush days; a stunning trestle bridge or perhaps a breathtaking vista that opens up before your eyes as the train emerges from a tunnel or rounds a bend.

On many of the journeys offered, you will pass through countryside populated by Eagles and Ospreys, and spotting one of these majestic birds gliding through the air becomes almost commonplace. At still other turns, there are waterfalls so thunderous you can feel their spray on your cheeks as the train passes by. There are picturesque small towns and general stores that date back 100 years and yet look as if they’ve not changed very much at all during the past century.

Visited this place?

The Breathtaking Sights

Mount Robson - Highest Point in Canadian Rockies

Among the few businesses to be seen are sawmills and trout farms. Every so often you pass a lone horse wandering in a golden yellow pasture or spot a glacier topped mountain peak. For countless miles there’s nothing but forest and mountains, not a home or person in sight as the train passes through the deepest, most remote regions of British Columbia or Alberta, where life remains visibly simpler. The rhythm and clatter of the train become the background music of the journey. The best part of this experience is the time you have to simply sit and look out the window, admiring beautiful scenery.

Rocky Mountaineer offers a variety of itineraries, all of which are compelling. Among the choices are First Passage West, which takes travelers from the bustling city of Vancouver, to the relatively tiny town of Kamloops, and on to Lake Louise and Banff. This journey passes through Canada’s stunning Rocky Mountains and includes monumental landmarks from the early days of the railway.

Visited this place?

Rocky Mountaineer: A throwback to the way vacations used to be

Tickets to ride the Rocky Mountaineer were among the luxury gifts provided to A-list celebrities at last year’s Oscar awards. What’s more, over the years Rocky Mountaineer has been the recipient of numerous industry awards and honors including being named “World’s Leading Travel Experience by Train” and one of the “Top 5 trains in the world,” by Conde Nast Traveler and by Travel + Leisure.

Western Living calls a trip aboard the Rocky Mountaineer one of the “Best Life Changing Trips” and among the “Top 5 Trains in the World."  There’s a reason why this train is so famous and its journeys so sought after – it offers the experience of a lifetime, the opportunity to be exposed to some of the most stunning natural scenery the North American continent has to offer, all while being pampered like royalty.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

Mia Taylor is an award-winning writer who has worked for newspapers, magazines, websites, digital marketing agencies, Fortune 500 companies and international non-profit organizations. She is...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Vancouver
Good things are meant to be shared!
Back to top
Visited any of these places? Click this button to activate our "Add a Tip" feature to share your experience.