Rocky Mountaineer is the world-renowned, luxurious train that travels by daylight through the wild beauty of Canada’s West and is the most magical & best way to experience the majestic Canadian Rockies.
The journey reviewed here, routed from Vancouver to Jasper, travelling in the Gold Leaf carriage.
The day begins with an early pick-up from the hotel (whereby your luggage is tagged and taken through to Kamloops on a separate road vehicle). On arrival at the station, you are greeted by a pianist playing jazz music and waiters serving morning coffees/teas or juices.
As the bag-pipe player begins (yes, it really is true) – this is the cue to board the train. It’s a fantastic start for all the Rocky Mountaineer staff from the station and their main office to personally see off all the guests and escort you to Gold Leaf Rocky Mountaineer carriage.
I should point out at this stage that there are three levels to the Rocky Mountaineer service and as with everything…three different price tiers!
This is the lead-in service, which offers large picture windows with reclining seats. ONLY chilled meals are served and this is at your seat. Complimentary non-alcohol beverages are served, however a glass of complimentary wine is served at lunch.
Importantly there will be one Rocky Mountaineer host to serve all the passengers as well as make presentations at key points. Your journey is not dissimilar to a two-day trip on our equivalent of British Rail. (A journey can last up to 12 hours a day). I should also point out that clients have to take their own luggage to their hotel in Kamloops which is the most basic accommodation (although adequate for a stay of one night).
Takes in the scenery through the windows of Rocky Mountaineers custom-designed single level glass dome coach. It has a 167% larger viewing area than the Red Leaf Service. Breakfast and lunch are served at the seat (with a choice of main course/entrée) and a range of complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.
The reclining dome level seats can rotate to accommodate groups of four and the areas are temperature controlled. Luggage is taken to a moderate hotel accommodation
for the one-night stay in Kamloops.
This puts you right in the heart of the amazing scenery of the Canadian Rockies. The plush seats are welcoming and you experience the panoramic views from full-length windows which I believe is the secret to the success of Gold Leaf.
As you are sitting up high, you completely capture the dramatic views and natural wildlife. By being on this level, I was able to catch the wild mountain goats and black bears. The service is astounding with five members of staff on hand. Two are in the dining cars below whilst the other three serve around the seats as well as provide commentary at interesting points.
There is a constant flow of drinks, both alcoholic & non-alcoholic. The Gold Leaf section is separated into two seating groups – first and second. On the first day, I was on the first seating – we were escorted to the dining car and seated at a table of four. Teas/coffees, juices & waters are served.
There is a menu with a choice to choose from. Whilst chefs prepare for your selected breakfast, a bowl of fruit is served. Then main breakfast is served with the following choices :
‘The Rocky Mountaineer’ (Omelette filled with mozzarella. Served with crispy double smoked bacon and farmer sausages, freshly roasted potatoes, mushrooms and tomatoes)
‘Gold Leaf Breakfast’ (Scrambled eggs and smoked steel head salmon. Topped with caviare & lemon chive crème fraiche).
‘Sir Sanford Fleming Benedict’ (Poached egg served over smoked meat on a fluffy crumpet accented with Hollandaise Sauce).
‘Buttermilk Pancakes’ (Traditional buttermilk pancakes with orange zest and Aldergrove berry preserve).
‘Granola Parfait’ (Vanilla yoghurt & home-style granola with fresh local berries).
Having refreshed my tea cup several times…I was ready to roll back (that was about as fast as I could move, but it was worth it!) upstairs to my seat. On arriving back at my seat, I was offered my first drink at 10:00 (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)! Needless to say, it would be rude to pass up such an offer, but for the sake of modesty, I won’t say which I chose.
Throughout the day, drinks are served. By midday, it’s time for lunch! Yes, really it was!
After soup, a light salad – there was a selection of ‘Short Ribs’, ‘Tiger Prawns’, ‘Chicken Breast, ‘Farfalle Pasta’ (Veggie Choice) and a ‘Lighter Choice’.
You will be offered a continuous flow of wine throughout the meal service, which was finally finished off with a dessert and tea/coffee.
Having returned to our seats at 13:30 – the views were encapsulating & exciting, dramatic and ever-changing. It is a perfect experience to socialise with other guests on the train and there is a lovely, relaxed ambiance, enhanced by an excellent interaction with, and from, the crew.
At 16:00…snack-time! More drinks and more food on offer! Look, it’s all very well you moaning, but you have to experience every part of the journey, really, you do!
On arrival into Kamloops station, those in Gold Leaf have their luggage immediately removed and placed in a transfer truck and taken to the hotel, and then to the room of the individual guest. So, there’s no need for those guests to lug around their own bags.
I should point out that guests in Silver Leaf and Red Leaf will need to recognise their bags and take them to their respective hotel.
The following day, it all starts again. This time, I was on the second seating. So, whilst the first dining group troop down to breakfast in the dining car, I was served croissants, with a choice of coffee and tea, whilst I waited to be served for my main breakfast.
Perfect timing, since after lunch we managed to see some beautiful black bears high on the side. Then mountain goats…on a roll now
This really is a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. I certainly would recommend Silver Leaf & Gold Leaf service. If budget is an issue, I personally would suggest down-grading on the accommodation. There are fantastic three star or lodge properties but experiencing Silver Leaf or Gold Leaf is a truly memorable and amazing occurrence. For any age, for any celebration – it is a magical way of following a wonderful historical train route constructed over one hundred years ago.
There are some amazing routes to discover from ‘First Passage to the West’, ‘Journey through the Clouds’ & ‘Rainforest to Gold Rush’. The newest service on offer ‘Coastal Passage’ connects Seattle & Vancouver to the Canada Rockies. Plus the ‘Whistler Sea to Sky Climb’ is a three and a half hour journey from North Vancouver to Whistler whereby you can enjoy stunning seascapes and mountain vistas.
If this article has whetted your appetite to travel on the Rocky Mountaineer, then please contact Paul Smith of World of Transport Travel with your requirements. I would be only too pleased to arrange quotes in the carriage of your choice, and can book flights and pre- and/or -post travel accommodation, as well as just about anything else you may wish to do. I can also arrange air travel if required, as well as a cruise up to Alaska, if you wish to combine rail and sea travel.