The Rocky Mountaineer – one of the world’s great rail journeys

SPOILER ALERT If you are ever likely to do this wonderful journey, just do it. For heavens sake just discover it for yourselves.

Otherwise – on we go.  By all means enjoy this feeble attempt to record a few of our impressions.

From the moment we stepped out of our taxi at the dedicated terminal at Vancouver we knew we were doing something special.
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Even our intermediate level of service, the Silver, was by far the most expensive section of our whole American adventure, but the friendliness, the efficiency, the live piano music playing, the buzz of anticipation in the hall – the bagpipes to welcome us on board the train, if you please – was almost overwhelming. (I have to say that the contrast with the Seattle Greyhound station, when it occurred to us to momentarily think of it, was surreal to the point of hilarity)
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There are several Rocky Mountaineer routes, but our two day journey from Vancouver, BC to Jasper, Alberta, with a comfortable overnight stay in Kamloops all integrated, suited us perfectly.

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Apart from anything else the scenic experience is beautifully staged, with a sustained crescendo as you move up the valleys and canyons of the Fraser and Thompson rivers, eventually reaching the snow-covered peaks of the high Rockies and close beneath the vast bulk of the highest of all, Mount Robson, whose peak you don’t see because it is only free of clouds about 14 days a year.

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We saw Osprey, Bald Eagles – cattle, goats and horses of course – and, right at the end, a black bear, climbing up a scree slope next to the track.

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A truly wonderful experience, made by the superb, endlessly cheerful and totally unflappable staff.

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Addendum Railways in North America are primarily about freight and passenger trains, even prestige ones like the Coast Starlight or the Rocky Mountaineer, always take second place. We passed six, seven, eight, possibly more, of these up to two mile long trains coming the other way
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Sometimes, as here on the Fraser River, on the rival tracks on the other side, or more often, when we were on single tracks, with us pulled into a siding and waiting for them to arrive and roar past. The sheer volume of produce being conveyed continuously around the continent, for example train after train of sawn timber, often wrapped in plastic, or wagons of double-stacked containers, or tankers of unidentifiable liquids by the score, does give some insight into the industrial might of these vast economies.

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