Romantic Journeys: Canada by Train

Vivian Vassos | February 5th, 2018

Rocky Mountaineer travelling along Howe Sound through the Sea to Sky Corridor (photo: Noel Hendrickson)

There’s something romantic about train travel and, when you combine it with nature’s best as your all-inclusive view, it pretty much can’t be beat.

Travelling Canada by train? We’ve got the top 5 wildlife sightings on the Rocky Mountaineer. We love trains. We love wildlife. We’re Canadians, after all, and our great white north was built on the railways. It connected us then, to each other, and now, it connects us to our wondrous natural surroundings.

There’s something romantic about train travel and, when you combine it with nature’s best as your all-inclusive view, it pretty much can’t be beat.

Enter Rocky Mountaineer, which, since 1990, has been making the daylight journey from Vancouver to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. The trips cover the “7 Wonders,” or seven mountain ranges of the BC/Alberta region.

Trains head to Banff for the First Passage to the West (our favourite!), while a few other itineraries go north, to Jasper for the Rainforest to Gold Rush route through some of BC’s most beautiful and rarely glimpsed wilderness. In 2006, a quickie day trip to Whistler was added, the Sea to Sky Climb (sounds romantic? It is!).

We highly recommend the splurge of GoldLeaf Service, where the bi-level custom-built train cars allow full-on panoramic views of the majestic great outdoors, from wildlife to mountain spotting made easy. And, because the trains only run from April to October, you’re pretty much getting the best weather possible.

There’s another reason, of course, to book as best you can. The food. Michelin-trained chefs work their culinary cool in galleys smaller than most powder rooms! But what comes out of them is Canadian inspired cuisine using the freshest, most readily available indigenous ingredients, including the best salmon on the planet (from the GoldLeaf Service Cuisine, above). Chefs have even been known to head to the farmers’ markets at the half way stop of the journey to ensure locally-sourced, a la minute, flavours. It’s Pacific Northwest cuisine at its peak.

Here are a few fun facts about the Rocky Mountaineer:

– Chefs use 1,500 kgs of Canadian White Cheddar and 450 kgs of Smoked Salmon each season;

– 6,700 trees have been planted so far; one for every employee’s yearly anniversary along the routes;

– Rocky Mountaineer has travelled more than 8 million kms – that’s more than 150 times around the globe!

And about that wildlife. There’s plenty to spy for animal lovers on this trip.

Click through to get the list of top-5 wildlife sightings. All aboard the Rocky Mountaineer!


Lions and tigers, and no, not really. But Bears, absolutely.

Big Horn Sheep as well as mountain goats dot the grassy hillsides and the cliffsides.

Does it get any more Canadian than Elk?

And birds, such as the Bald Eagle and owls. Oh, and #5. Legend has it, it’s the Sasquatch. Only in Canada, eh.

For more sightings, visit