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The Canadian Rockies By Train

October 6, 2015 Canada, North America

Alberta and British Columbia, Canada

When railroads first crossed Canada in 1885 (“an act of insane recklessness,” read the headlines), they did more than bring in settlers: They opened up western Canada to tourism. “If we can’t export the scenery.” Declared William Van Horne, president of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, “we’ll import the tourists.” Lavish hotels were constructed in the wilderness with breath-taking views of ancient glaciers, snow-capped peaks, roaring waterfalls, and tranquil mountain lakes.

Travelling by train through the Rockies is still one of the best – and most relaxing – ways to explore this massive and inspiring country, VIA Rail Canada, Canada’s national passenger rail network, offers a year-round 4-night, 2,775-mile trip between Toronto and Vancouver. It passes through Jasper National Park, over the Continental Divide, and past the Canadian Rockies’ highest peak, 12,972-foot Mount Robson. In winter, VIA Rail’s Snow Train packages offer passengers transportation in vintage stainless-steel railcars to Jasper from all points along the same route.

A seasonal alternative is the Rocky Mountaineer, the largest privately owned passenger rail service in North America and deservedly popular for its 2-day all-daylight trains trips to and from Vancouver and Jasper, Banff, or Calgary. For those seeking a shorter yet just as spectacular journey, the Rocky Mountaineer also offers daily service between Vancouver and Whistler along the Sea-to-Sky route and seasonal service between Whistler and Jasper via Quesnel. All travel is during daylight hours only, so you won’t miss a single scenic wonder, and in lieu of a jostling railcar, you’ll sleep in a comfortable hotel.

BEST TIME: Apr – Jun for wildlife; Sep – Oct for pleasant weather, foliage, and smaller crowds.
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