WDave on the viewing platform inding beside rivers, clattering through forests and chugging up snow-capped peaks, the iconic Rocky Mountaineer, with its luxurious double-decker Goldleaf carriages, is as far removed from our commuter services as it’s possible to be.
I travelled along the highest part of the network, from Vancouver on the west coast nearly 600 miles to Banff in the middle of the mountain range.
As we crossed the continental divide, where rivers flow one way to the Pacific and the other to the Atlantic, we reached 5,332ft above sea level, the twin diesel locos pulling 11 carriages round two spiral tunnels cut into the peaks.
Six of the carriages were Goldleaf, the most luxurious level of service, with an observation dome on top and dining room underneath. A small team of cooks prepared two sittings for breakfast and lunch, with a choice of mouthwatering dishes.
Even so, the scenery is so spectacular it’s hard to drag yourself away from your comfy, adjustable seat upstairs.
Our journey began with a flight to Vancouver and a night at the “castle in the city” Fairmont Hotel. Early next morning, a bagpiper welcomed us on board at the Rocky Mountaineer station.
As the train slowly picked up pace on the way out of the city, the railway followed the Fraser River, passing Hell’s Gate, where 200 million gallons of water surge through the canyon every minute.
With a history of hunters, pioneers and gold miners, it was no surprise that the place names were as colourful as the landscape - after Rainbow Canyon came Avalanche Alley and Jaws of Death Gorge.
Following an overnight stay at the town of Kamloops, we were up again at 6am as the smartly dressed crew waited outside the carriages to guide us back to our seats.
For the rest of the day they didn’t seem to stop, whether it was laying tables for meals, serving food, drink and snacks, announcing any sightings of wildlife such as bear, moose, Uninterrupted views in Goldleaf carriage eagle, osprey or elk, or commentating on the places we were travelling through.
Goldleaf carriages have open platforms at the back where you can feel the rush of the air, hear the screech of the wheels and take unobstructed photographs.
Pack spare camera batteries and memory cards because there’s a photogenic scene around almost every bend as the train snakes alongside the water. Mountains, trees and remote townships
Crossing Fraser River
TAKING A PEAK DOME FROM HOME
BRIDGE OF HIGHS