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Know Before You Go: Rocky Mountaineer

Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer
Option for Main Image Seattle USA

Know Before You Go: Rocky Mountaineer

story by: Tom Ricketts

The Rocky Mountaineer is one of the world’s great train experiences, complete with top notch service, high quality food, and of course, absolute mind-blowing scenery. If you’re just thinking about going, or if you’re already booked and ready to go, here’s what you need to know when travelling aboard Rocky Mountaineer…

1. When is best to go?

Rocky Mountaineer only operates from April to October. April, May and September are ‘shoulder season’ but in April and May (and sometimes even June) the lakes could still be frozen over. If you want those stunning turquoise lakes and lush green pine forest, travel in July or August.

Lakes, streams, and waterfalls swell with the melting remnants of winter and snow-capped mountain peaks. Bears lumber out of hibernation. Flowers blossom. The wilderness comes alive and it’s yours to savour.

Warm weather urges vegetation to flourish. Newborn animals emerge under their parent’s watchful eyes. The rainforest is at its most lush and the arid desert canyons have an especially rugged beauty.

The forests create a vibrant display of red, orange, and gold, mixed with evergreen. Snow frosts the mountain peaks. The animals forage through the wilderness to prepare for the coming winter. 

2. Is there more than one route?

Yes, there are four routes, all of which can also be done in reverse, or combined to do a circular trip. Read more about the routes here.

3. How long are the trips?

Three routes have two days aboard the train, and one has three days. They are usually built into a longer itinerary which takes in more of the region. The average trip would be about a week.

4. Will I see wildlife?

Usually yes, a range of wildlife is seen including bears, elk, deer, moose, mountain goats and bighorn sheep. There’s even a designated ‘wildlife spotter’ onboard and when something interesting is spotted, they will announce what is coming up. For example “bear on the left!”. Said bears however, can only be seen from late May to late September/early October.

5. Do I sleep on the train?

No, the train stops in a town for the evening where you are transferred to a proper hotel for the night.

6. Are there different levels of service?
Yes there are two levels, GoldLeaf and SilverLeaf which have different inclusions. Watch a video about GoldLeaf here, or watch a video about SilverLeaf here.

7. Is the trip fully escorted?

While aboard Rocky Mountaineer there will certainly be staff to assist you and give commentary, but they won’t be available once you arrive at the hotel for the night. Please ask your travel agent for exact information.

8. Can I get off the train to take pictures?
No, the train only stops for the overnight stay, no stopping enroute. However the train does also slow right down at particularly scenic spots to allow plenty of photos to be taken.

9. Do we eat onboard the train?

Breakfasts and lunches are served aboard the train and for dinner (not included) you can get out and about and enjoy the local restaurants. All dietary requirements can be accommodated as long as advance notice is given.

10. Do I have access to my luggage?
Aboard the train you’ll need to take a day bag with whatever you need. You’re luggage does not travel on the train, and will be waiting for you at the hotel.

11. Is there a smoking area?

Unfortunately no, smoking is not allowed anywhere on the train, even in the outdoor carriage. This is due to government regulations.

12. Can I take my electronic devices?

Yes, by all means bring your phones and iPads etc. However you will need back up batteries, just incase you run out of juice just as the bears come out to play! Charging points are not available on the train. Of course, as you’re travelling through remote alpine areas, reception can be very patchy to non-existent.

13. What should I pack?

You’ll need a full range of gear as you’ll be heading into alpine regions, and maybe even up a glacier, so it can get cold. Rain jackets and sturdy shoes should also be taken.


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