6 Reasons to Explore the Canadian Rockies by Train

All aboard Rocky Mountaineer.

Vibrant greens and blues paint the lush landscape of the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada—scenery so spectacular it takes your breath away. Now imagine gazing at all the wonders of the Canadian Rockies—snowcapped peaks, aquamarine lakes sparkling in the sun, brown bears lurking amid the foliage—from your plush seat onboard a glass-domed train car.

AAA and travel partner Rocky Mountaineer can make this dream scenario come true. The world’s largest privately owned luxury tourist train offers rail routes traveling from the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver to iconic destinations in the Canadian Rockies. Plus, with countless ways to tailor the adventure to fit your style, from action-packed to ultra-laid-back, there is something for everyone.

Here are six reasons you’ll want to see the Canadian Rockies by train with Rocky Mountaineer and AAA:

1. You go places others can’t

Much of the Canadian Rockies’ backwoods beauty—sheer mountainsides, steep canyons and rushing rivers—is inaccessible to drivers and even hikers. But Rocky Mountaineer’s tracks carve through it all, across soaring bridges and through exhilarating tunnels.

Riders can soak in the views from glass-domed coaches and outdoor viewing platforms, stopping along the way in places like Banff, with its famous hot springs, and Jasper, home to the Rockies’ largest glacially fed lake. While you’re taking in the views, keep an eye out for wildlife, including bears, bighorn sheep, elk and bald eagles.

2. You feel like royalty

As a guest with Rocky Mountaineer, you’ll be pampered from the moment you arrive at the train station—from a welcome bagpipe serenade to fresh-from-the-oven scones. During the journey, onboard Hosts greet you with a toast and throughout the day share stories of the area’s history and nature, or simply top up your drink.

When it’s time for lunch, Rocky Mountaineer’s chefs whip up delectable dishes using local ingredients—think Alberta beef short ribs and steelhead salmon fillets—to savor without missing a moment of the passing scenery.

3. You can make the trip your own

If you thought a rail journey was a one-size-fits-all vacation, think again. Rocky Mountaineer offers several ways to customize your trip. For example, if you can’t decide on one of the main rail routes, you can see everything on a Circle Journey. These longer trips start and end in the same place and combine two or more routes.

If you want additional free time in stops like Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise, an At Leisure Journey gives you one or more days to explore at your pace. And if you prefer to take the wheel, Rocky Mountaineer’s Self-Drive Journeys let you spend two or three days on the train before setting off in a rental car.

4. You sleep well (very well)

Rocky Mountaineer only travels during daylight hours—ensuring you don’t miss a minute of the surrounding scenery. And when the evening sun begins to set, disembark from the train and spend the night in a comfy hotel bed.

Depending on where your route takes you, you might spend time in the charming village of cedar chalets and cabins at AAA Three Diamond Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, by shimmering blue water at AAA Four Diamond Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or in the rustic wood-and-stone elegance of AAA Three Diamond Moose Hotel & Suites in Banff.

5. The adventure level is up to you

You can make your Rocky Mountaineer journey as unique as you are by adding off-the-train activities and excursions that range from relaxing to high-adrenaline. In Banff, you can take an eight-minute ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain in a fully enclosed gondola for bird’s-eye views of six mountain ranges. Or soar more than 7,500 feet above sea level on a panoramic helicopter tour with glaciers, mountains, lakes and waterfalls spread out below.

You can even spend an unforgettable two hours cruising in Howe Sound with a sea safari, northwest of Vancouver. Take in the sights of the towering cliffs of Anvil Island, or the seals at Pam Rocks, and many more sights that can be seen only from the water.

6. You can even take a cruise

In this part of the world, the beauty isn’t confined to the Rockies—the icy expanses of Alaska’s Inside Passage are just a boat ride away. And since Vancouver is the home port for many Alaskan cruises, it’s easy to seamlessly pair your rail experience with an ocean cruise.

Whether you choose to cruise before or after your Rocky Mountaineer journey, you can witness majestic glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park, experience gold rush history in Skagway, and explore the icefields and lush forests of Juneau. It’s a marriage of land and sea that you won’t soon forget.

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