Canada by Rail – Rocky Mountaineer

Travel Dates: September 12-13, 2022

A few years ago Carla and I saw the Rocky Mountaineer in Seattle. We looked it up and were intrigued by the possibilities. While it didn’t land on our “must do” bucket list we had it in the back of our minds if/when the opportunity presented itself. When we learned that our Fresh Tracks Canada tour included two days on the train we were very happy..

The morning after out exploration around Vancouver, BC we – along with 50 or so others at the hotel – got on board a bus to take us to the Rocky Mountaineer station for our two-day trip into the Canadian Rockies. I’m planning 2 posts for this section of our trip: this one will cover the Rocky Mountaineer train riThe morning after out exploration around Vancouver, BC we – along with 50 or so others at the hotel – got on board a bus to take us to the Rocky Mountaineer station for our 2 trip into the Canadian Rockies. de and the next will be on the places we visited on the day trips.

Our train was freshly cleaned and ready for us as we arrived. We found our car and posed for the photo op.

Ready for the first stage of our rail adventure

The most distinctive feature of the Rocky Mountaineer double decker cars is the covered and wind-protected vestibule.

Deboarding in the rain in Banff. You can see the vesitbule on the car.

We found our seats on the upper level with the expansive windows. The restaurant takes up the first level.

View inside our Rocky Mountaineer car. If I didn’t know better I’d swear the smiling guy on the front right was my brother-in-law Hank. In my element with lots of old foamers and their wives.

I wondered back down to the vestibule as we left Vancouver and was able to grab a photo of our motive power for the first day.

View from the vestibule of our car

Being a foamer (AKA train fan. We are called foamers because we foam at the mouth anytime the opportunity to view trains) I thought the vestibule would be jammed packed the whole time. But not so much. There was definitely a group – of which we were a part – that spent a LOT of time in the vestibule; but the majority were content to view things from the comfy seats on top. A group of four sitting in front of us stayed in their seats and seem to have set a goal of drinking as much of the “free” alcohol as possible. (It was a lot). Here, Jim and Carla take in the view.

Jim and Carla in the vestibule on the Rocky Mountaineer. Jim looks like a big kid to me in this

And here I am enjoying the view.

Howard enjoying the view from the vestibule on the Rocky Mountaineer

The vestibules add a unique vantage point of the railroad. Here we are climbing a grade on a single track in the Rockies

Rocky Mountaineer heading up the mountain

When I look at this next picture my first thought is GET YOUR HEAD BACK INSIDE! But it’s safer than it looks with the zoom of my Sony RX100. The freight was stopped and we were traveling very slowly. You can see either the back of the train or another freight just above the cab of Canadian National 3015

Canadian National Container Train meeitng the Rocky Mountaineer. I made sure I ducked back into the vestibule

Here we stopped for a red signal on a siding for a freight to pass by. Notice the Engineer or Conductor down on the ground in a high visibility vest doing an inspection of the rolling freight.

Rocky Mountaineer engineer (or conductor) watching the passing coal train

After a full day of travel – complete with three delicious meals along with all the snacks and drinks we desired – we pulled into Kamloops where we would spend the night in a hotel. There was a mad rush to the check-in counter so the four of us headed down to the local park on the banks of the Thompson river. By the time we made it back to our hotel, the crowds were gone and we went up to our rooms for the night.

Arriving at the station the next morning Jim and I saw an opportunity to walk up to the head of the train to get a picture of our head end power. It was not to be; we got stopped when we got this close.

Early morning boarding in Kamloops, BC As close as Jim and I could get to the head end power before being chased back to our car.

If you are a train fan you probably notice that there is an additional locomotive in the consist on the second day. The lead unit provides the power to move the train and the third unit (8013) provides the needed power to the cars for cooking, heat, and what not. The middle locomotive is there in case more power is needed rolling through the Rockies.

Our destination on day two was Banff, Alberta. The ride was fabulous on both days. The crew was wonderful and we had everything we could desire. There was plenty of beautiful Canada all around us.

View from the Rocky Mountaineer Near the Fraser River

The Rocky Mountaineer has way more pull with the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railroads than Amtrak does with the freight railroads in the States. When we came to landmarks our train would slow waaaay down so everyone could get pictures. Here are the falls at Stoney Creek Bridge

The Falls at Stoney Creek Bridge. The Rocky Mountaineer enginner slowed the train at some sites so we could get photos.

And here is a utility cross at Hells Gate on the Fraser River.

Hell’s Gate on the Fraser River from the Rocky Mountaineer – Photo by Jim Mattila

The river and lakes are all tinted blue to turquoise due to the “glacier flour” in the water. As glaciers move across the mountains it grinds the rocks into a very fine silt that can stay suspended in the water.

Wapta Lake reflection from the Rocky Mountaineer

Glacier flour was described to us at every step of the way. My next post will have quite a few pictures of this phenomenon. If you are thinking of riding the Rocky Mountaineer, do it if you can. The trip in the Canadian Rockies was fantastic.

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