I spent 22 hours on a glass-roofed train through the Rocky Mountains. Here's what the $2,530 luxury ride was like and why it's worth it.

·9 min read
Selfie of the writer with the Rocky Mountaineer train
I bought a ticket aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train for a luxury transportation experience.Rachel Dube
  • I bought a $2,530 ticket to travel from Vancouver to Banff on the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer train.

  • The glass-roofed train was surprisingly comfortable, had great food, and traveled during daylight.

  • We passed by incredibly picturesque areas of Canada and drove through the scenic Rocky Mountains.

I booked myself a journey aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury train known for its spectacular views.

A large blue train with "Rocky Mountaineer" on side in gold letters
I rode in the Gold Leaf car on the Rocky Mountaineer train.Rachel Dube

The Rocky Mountaineer is pretty famous — it even earned the title of the 2021 world's leading luxury train from the World Travel Awards. It's also known for being pretty luxurious.

Recently, I rode on the First Passage to the West, which starts in Vancouver. On this route, the train made an overnight stop in Kamloops, a city in British Columbia, and ended its journey in Banff, a town in Alberta.

Both Canadian cities are located by the Rocky Mountains and bodies of water, so I saw lots of beautiful scenery along the way.

The ride itself spans two days and three nights and the train only travels during daylight hours.

We spent 22 hours total on the train, split up over 10 hours on the first day and 12 hours for the remainder of the journey.

Masks were required at all times, except when eating or drinking on the train.

The night before the train ride, I flew to Vancouver and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel.

Skyscrapers in Vancouver
I had a great view of the city from my hotel room in Vancouver.Rachel Dube

The train ticket covers overnight hotels, so the Sheraton was included in the price. Typically, these tickets can cost $2,900 or more, but I got mine on sale at $2,530.

For the journey, I booked the Gold Leaf service, which includes the larger, double-decker train car and comes with extra perks, like drinks all day and menued dining.

A regular ticket, or the Silver Leaf service, includes pre-selected meals and doesn't offer as expansive views during the ride.

The next morning, we met in the lobby and headed to the station.

Selfie of the writer wearing a black mask and black shirt and sitting in train
We rode to the train station on a bus.Rachel Dube

At 6 a.m., we met in the hotel and took a bus to the Rocky Mountaineer station to begin our journey.

The station was just a short ride away from the hotel, so it took us only 10 minutes to get there.

Upon boarding the train, we were greeted by the staff.

A staff member from the Rocky Mountaineer stands by entrance to train car
The staff members stood by the train cars to welcome us.Rachel Dube

Both of our train hosts were extremely welcoming and made me feel right at home.

I had never been on a train like this before, so I absolutely adored the experience.

Tan seats and blue ceiling with a glass roof area on a train
The windows and glass roof surround passengers with the scenery.Rachel Dube

This was my first time seeing such spectacular views via train, and the scenery throughout Canada was beautiful.

The seats were extremely comfortable and the train car was spacious.

Tan two-by-two seats in train car
The chairs looked comfy.Rachel Dube

The train was super spacious, with roomy seats, very large windows, and a massive glass roof.

The seats were arranged in a two-by-two configuration, so there was plenty of room to stretch your legs and store your personal belongings, like jackets and purses. I was able to fit my coat and oversized bag in front of me without worrying about being too cramped.

The seats even reclined.

Tan two-by-two chairs on train
There was enough space to recline your seat completely.Rachel Dube

Each seat reclined all the way back and had a control panel to turn on seat warmers and position the chair however you preferred.

Once the train departed, the Rocky Mountaineer staff positioned themselves in a half-moon and waved the train out of the station.

Rocky Mountaineer staff members waving train away at train station
Seeing the Rocky Mountaineer staff wave the train out of the station was cool.Rachel Dube

The staff did this at every station stop, which was lovely to see.

We started the day with a warm bite to eat and a greeting from the chef.

A train car tray with a glass of water, a napkin, and a pastry on a plate
I'm glad we had a bite to eat before our breakfasts.Rachel Dube

Our group's breakfast wasn't offered until the second shift, so we were given a warm pastry with some cinnamon cream to hold us over.

Coffee and other beverages were also offered.

The chef joined us in the car to welcome us aboard and tell us that the pastries were flown in from Paris.

After a little while, we headed down to the dining area.

Dining car on train, with brown seats and tables covered with white tablecloths
The dining cart looked fancy.Rachel Dube

For meals, we walked down to the floor beneath the seating car to order off the menu. We headed here for breakfast and lunch on both days.

The staff also accommodated allergies and other dietary restrictions, which was fantastic.

The breakfast menu offered traditional favorites.

Four croissants on tray with bowl of butter in the middle
Each table was given croissants with butter.Rachel Dube

Some breakfast options included pancakes, eggs benedict, and yogurt parfaits.

My table received a beautiful croissant board with butter as an appetizer. We each ordered individual dishes as well and I opted for pancakes.

After breakfast, I stepped onto the outdoor viewing platform to see the river.

View of river and woodlands from train car
I liked seeing the river, but it was a bit too cold outside for me.Rachel Dube

It was cold outside and the platform was crowded, so I opted to stay inside for most of the journey.

Before I went back upstairs, I decided to head to the bathroom.

Train car bathroom with mirror and sink
Even the train's bathrooms were upgraded.Rachel Dube

On board, the bathroom was large and clean, with an oversized mirror and great lighting.

I went back to my seat to view the scenery on the way to Kamloops.

Brown lake with pine trees and mountains surrounding it
I had great views of the mountains and river on the ride to Kamloops.Rachel Dube

On the first day, we saw some desert and river views along the ride.

After taking in the scenery, I was greeted by our host.

Rocky Mountaineer staff member carries tray of snacks
Tyler offered us snacks like chips, nuts, and other nibbles.Rachel Dube

Tyler, our incredible host on board, handed me a drink menu, which listed local and reserved wines, cocktails, and hard liquor.

He also came around with a tray full of snacks and shared history and other facts about the places the train drove through, which was a large part of what made the journey so special.

At around 1:30, it was time for lunch.

The writer holds a lunch menu on the Rocky Mountaineer train
There were a variety of lunch options.Rachel Dube

The lunch menu changed day-to-day and was curated by the chef, who used the trip itinerary as inspiration.

Some lunch items included a power bowl, salmon, and chicken.

After lunch, I went to my seat to enjoy the scenic views until we arrived at Kamloops.

After 10 hours on board, we arrived at Kamloops station.

The writer holds a map of downtown Kamloops
The maps were really helpful.Rachel Dube

Before getting off the train, we were given maps with listed restaurants, facts about the town, and other information.

Once we got off the train, buses took us to our hotels for the evening.

White parked bus
We rode a bus to our hotel.Rachel Dube

We rode a bus to the Delta Hotel Kamloops, where there was a sign in the lobby informing us of when we had to meet for our departure the next morning.

Though 5:50 a.m. was a bit early, it was worth it. The wake-up time changes according to daylight hours since the train only travels during the day and must reach its destination by a certain point.

I checked in and went to my room to find my luggage waiting inside.

Black suitcase on white counter in hotel room
My luggage was in my room when I arrived.Rachel Dube

Passengers' luggage was transported via truck and was left in our rooms or the hotel lobby.

After a good night's sleep, I woke up at 5:30 to get ready to board the train.

Hotel lobby with brown seating, dim lighting, and a blue rug
We met in the hotel lobby before we departed.Rachel Dube

I met the train group downstairs and left my bag outside with all the other luggage, which was sorted according to destination by the Rocky Mountaineer team.

Our luggage was then transported to our destination by truck since there wasn't room for bags on board.

Once again, buses took us directly to the train station so we could board for day two.

Day two's breakfast was relatively similar to day one's.

Dining table, set with utensils and menus, in dining car
We had the same breakfast menu as we did on day one.Rachel Dube

We rode on the train for 12 hours on the second day, which was two hours more than the first half of the trip.

Our group had the first breakfast shift, so there was no morning pastry this time. The menu for breakfast was the same as on day one.

I noticed the lunch menu was different on the second day.

Squash risotto with green sauce on a plate
I went with the butternut-squash risotto.Rachel Dube

On the second day, the menu included items like butternut-squash risotto and a Lois Lake steelhead salmon.

We were told that the chefs even created a special vegan menu and that all dishes used as many local ingredients as possible.

In GoldLeaf Service, all meals are cooked fresh in the kitchen.

I opted to get the vegetarian butternut-squash risotto, which they made to accommodate my dietary restrictions and allergies. The staff helped me with every meal so I didn't worry about eating something I shouldn't.

Since we journeyed to Banff on the second day, the views were even more gorgeous.

A selfie of the writer on the train with the Rocky Mountains in the background
The Rocky Mountains were beautiful.Rachel Dube

On the second day, we saw the Rocky Mountains and some other scenic views.

When we got closer to the train stop, we saw incredible views of the Rocky Mountains for a few hours.

Rocky Mountains with pine trees and blue sky
The pictures I got don't do the Rocky Mountains justice.Rachel Dube

Driving through the Rocky Mountains was a surreal experience and was one of my favorite parts of the entire train ride.

Before departing the train, we got a sweet dessert.

The chef with a basket of oatmeal-raisin cookies
We received oatmeal-raisin cookies as a parting gift.Rachel Dube

Finally, we arrived in Banff.

Before heading off the train, one of the chefs handed out warm oatmeal-raisin cookies.

Buses were waiting at the station to transport us to our final hotel.

Bus with illustration of the Rocky Mountains with Brewster Sightseeing
We got to our hotels via bus.Rachel Dube

Each bus had a numbered sign on it that corresponded with different hotels, which is how I figured out which to board.

I checked into Elk and Avenue Hotel, located on a central street in Banff and just a short walk from stores and restaurants.

I stayed one night before flying home the next day.

 

Overall, leaving the train was a bittersweet goodbye.

The Rocky Mountaineer train with a Canadian flag
Banff was our final stop.Rachel Dube

The 22 hours on the train were broken up by hotel stays and bus rides, which made it feel like it wasn't too long.

The views were incredible and I felt like this experience was worth every penny.

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