How to Choose the Best Rocky Mountaineer Route for Your Vacation

A breakdown of all three Rocky Mountaineer routes to the Canadian Rockies. 

Get swept away by the allure of the Rockies and embark on an unforgettable train journey with the Rocky Mountaineer. Dive into this guide filled with compelling details on the varied and magnificent routes available. In this article, you will:

  • Get an introduction to the routes: Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Whistler
  • Understand departure information including timings and operating months
  • Discover highlights and landscapes unique to each route

Routes

Rocky Mountaineer itineraries offer great flexibility to suit your travel plans. Start your rail journey from Vancouver or opt for the land-based adventures first by flying into Calgary. Each itinerary is reversible, allowing you to tailor your trip to your arrival city and preferences.

Map of Rocky Mountaineer 2-day train from Vancouver and Banff

Vancouver To Banff/Lake Louise

The Rocky Mountaineer’s revered First Passage To The West connects the vibrant cityscape of Vancouver to the quaint alpine settings of Banff and Lake Louise. As you travel this historic route, initially forged by the pioneers of the Canadian Pacific Railway, you are granted spectacular views of nature’s majesty. The journey begins through the fertile plains of the Fraser Valley, flanked by the towering peaks of the Coast Mountains and the dramatic vistas of the Fraser Canyon. Here, marvel at the awe-inspiring sight of Hell’s Gate’s thundering waters, followed by a scenic ride alongside the Thompson River to Kamloops.

The adventure continues through the expansive ranchlands along the South Thompson River, entering the formidable Rogers Pass with its intricate network of tunnels, snowsheds, and glistening glaciers. Ascend through the Spiral Tunnels, crossing over the Continental Divide into the breathtaking expanse of Banff National Park.

Map of 2-day Rocky Mountaineer train trip from Vancouver to Jasper

Vancouver to Jasper

On the Journey Through the Clouds route, the train sets out from Vancouver and travels toward Jasper, a jewel nestled within the sprawling wilderness. This route is a visual feast, where each turn unveils a new, awe-inspiring tableau: the journey begins through the fertile fields of the Fraser Valley and amidst the towering peaks of the Coast Mountains, before the train enters the dramatic Fraser Canyon. Revel in the views of the thundering waters at Hell’s Gate and follow the Thompson River to the historic town of Kamloops. The following day, your journey continues along the Thompson River through rolling hills to the snowy peaks of the Monashee Mountains. As you approach Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies, marvel at the beauty of Pyramid Falls and the expansive glaciers of the Albreda Icefields.

Jasper to Vancouver 3 day train, with stops in Whistler and Quesnel.

Vancouver, Whistler, Jasper

The Rainforest to Gold Rush route offers a unique twist to the classic Rockies exploration, diverging from the “Journey Through the Clouds” with its additional stops in Whistler and Quesnel. These detours add a layer of diversity, inviting travelers to experience the vibrancy of a world-renowned resort town and the rustic charm of a historic Gold Rush hub, enriching the journey with distinct cultural and natural landscapes that are not encountered on the Jasper-focused route.

Departure Times

Vancouver To Banff

DayDepartureArrival
Day 1Leave Vancouver: 8 amArrive Kamloops: 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Day 2Leave Kamloops: 6:45 amArrive Banff: 7:30 – 9:30 pm

Vancouver To Lake Louise

DayDepartureArrival
Day 1Leave Vancouver: 8 amArrive Kamloops: 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Day 2Leave Kamloops: 6:45 amArrive Lake Louise: 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Vancouver To Jasper

DayDepartureArrival
Day 1Leave Vancouver: 8 amArrive Kamloops: 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Day 2Leave Kamloops: 6:45 amArrive Jasper: 7:30 – 9 pm

Vancouver, Whistler, Jasper

DayDepartureArrival
Day 1Leave Vancouver: 8 amArrive Whistler: 11:30 am – 12:30pm
Day 2Leave Whistler: 7:45 amArrive Quesnel: 7 – 8 pm
Day 3Leave Quesnel: 7:00 amArrive Jasper: 9 – 10 pm

Go Further Into the Rockies

If you’re seeking a more immersive exploration of the Rockies, consider complementing your Rocky Mountaineer train journey with a luxury bus tour. While the train offers a majestic passage to and from the Rockies, it doesn’t venture deep within the mountain terrain. A guided bus tour fills this gap, allowing you to delve into the heart of the Rockies with stops at iconic locations like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Johnston Canyon. This combination promises a comprehensive and luxurious Rockies adventure, ensuring you don’t miss any of its natural wonders.

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