Our 9-day Train Lover’s Dream tour is perfect for those who want to take in the highlights of the Canadian Rockies while experiencing both the nostalgia of sleeping onboard a VIA Rail train and the luxury of the Rocky Mountaineer.

To become more knowledgeable on everything we offer, so we may better serve you and answer any inquiries, we recently had the opportunity to experience our Train Lover’s Dream Tour.

The Nostalgia of VIA Rail Meets the Luxury of the Rocky Mountaineer

Perfect for the train enthusiast

Day One

Exploring Vancouver

The trip begins with your arrival in the beautiful coastal city of Vancouver, British Columbia. I highly recommend including an extra night here so that you have the opportunity to fully enjoy a Landsea Tours & Adventures Vancouver Sightseeing Tour. The city tour runs for approximately three hours, with the option to extend it by a few hours to include the Capilano Suspension Bridge (additional cost). We had the pleasure of having Brent Lawrence guide us around the city and he was extremely informative. He was able to provide facts about everything from the downtown area to Stanley Park, to the history of the city.

Brent was also able to provide information on where we would be able to find some of the best restaurants in town, and where to go to buy souvenirs (spoiler alert, it is in Gastown and a lot of the stores stay open late).

The tour bus will pick you up and drop you off from your hotel. Regular washroom breaks are made throughout the tour. All the buses have an outlet and USB on the wall next to each set of seats and have moveable armrests.

Thank you to Landsea Tours & Adventures and Brent Lawrence for providing us with a wonderful tour of Vancouver.

Day Two and Three

Riding the rails with VIA and exploring Jasper

The next day you will embark on VIA Rail’s nostalgic passenger train ‘The Canadian’ as you make your way from Vancouver to Jasper.

We would like to thank Ryan Robutka for giving us the opportunity to experience this amazing rail journey.

When you arrive at the station make your way to the counters to check in and to check your large suitcases. If you don’t have a luggage tag with your name, they will give you one to fill out. Keep in mind that you are allowed two suitcases per person, with a weight of 50 lbs each.

For more information and ideas on what to pack you can read our blog What to Pack for a Canadian Train Trip.

They will then direct you to the meal reservation desk to select your mealtimes for dinner. Depending on the time of the year, you will have an option of two to three seating times. Breakfast typically runs between 6:30 to 9:30 and brunch from 9:30 to 13:00.

Once we boarded, we met our cabin attendant, Dion, who would make up the room for both the night and morning, and help us with any questions or requests we had. If you wanted to keep your bed down for the entire day you only needed to ask. Additionally, the chairs could be moved around in the cabin for two.

The private cabins for one and two both have a toilet, but unless you are in a Prestige cabin, there is a shared shower for each car (18 people when at full capacity). The shower room has a changing area, separated by a shower door, with a garbage and a place for used towels. The shower itself has a timed push button rather than traditional taps and the water pressure is surprisingly good for a train.

Throughout our time onboard the train we took full advantage of the Skyline car, where we were able to play games, relax, take in the changing scenery, and partake from the bar, for an additional cost. The train will even slow down and inform you of wildlife sightings so you can get a picture. After 16:00 we were able to make our way to the Prestige lounge and dome car to take a look around. This area is reserved for Prestige guests during the day, and there is reserved seating in the dome in the evening. The bar here also had a few more options available, and we were served by the lovely Nancy.

One thing to note about train travel is that you need to be prepared for delays, even if you think you are ahead of schedule. Although we left Kamloops early our arrival was still delayed by quite a bit. This is why we recommend that you do not book a flight, or any timed event, for the same day as your arrival.

If it’s on time, the train should arrive in Jasper around 11:00 am, where you will be able to pick up your luggage and make your way to your hotel. You will then have the afternoon to relax and explore the town.

We stayed at the Chateau Jasper, thanks to Pursuit and Brittanie O’Reilly, which was within walking distance from the downtown core and had all the basic amenities. With a fridge in each room, access to the pool, comfortable beds, and breakfast available for purchase at the on-site restaurant, the highlight for our staff might have been the complimentary Rocky Mountain Soap Company shampoo and conditioner.

Most of the hotels within Jasper are centrally located, making it easy to get to and from the train station, and we spent some time touring a few of the other hotels that we partner with. The Crimson and Forest Park Hotel have the same great amenities as Chateau Jasper, Bear Hill Lodge is ideal for families, and Mount Robson Inn offers great accommodations, with complimentary breakfast, for the more active crowds. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is where you want to go to immerse yourself in nature, or if you love to golf. There are also riding stables and the Jasper Planetarium onsite. As it is further away from the downtown area, there is a free shuttle that can take you into town. A unique feature that the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge can offer their guests, that isn’t well known, is BBQ packages and rentals with their signature cabin dining.

Thank you to Kristen of Pursuit, Jay Gibson of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Michal Onderco of Bear Hill Lodge, and Alana of Mount Robson Inn for showing us around the different properties.

If you have a free day in Jasper, you can check out the Yellowhead Museum, head to one of the Jasper Riding Stables to get acquainted with a horse, or rent an e-bike and tour around the town.

If you’re hungry and would like a quick, on-the-go lunch, I recommend Patricia Street Deli. For those wanting a sweet treat, you can try the famous Canadian pastry, BeaverTails. If you have a little more time I suggest trying either Terra, located in The Crimson, or Evil Dave’s Grill for an amazing meal. We got to enjoy wonderful meals at both locations, and would like to thank Paul Hardy of SunDog Tour Co., and his lovely wife Hélène, for joining us for a lovely meal at Terra.

If you want more suggestions on what you can do during a free day or afternoon, you can check out Tourism Jasper, which is run by people who know and love Jasper. We would like to thank Tourism Jasper’s Business Development Specialist, Lety Cortez, an extremely friendly and welcoming individual, for inviting us for a wonderful meal at Evil Dave’s Grill. Lety ended up loving Jasper so much that she moved here from Mexico!

We would also like to thank Ryan Elliott and Rhonda Hughes of Travel Alberta for putting us in touch with the right people to allow us the opportunity to meet with Tourism Jasper.

Day Four

Enjoying the natural beauty of Jasper

On the fourth day, you will explore the natural beauty of the area around Jasper while on a five to six-hour Maligne Valley Sightseeing Tour. We were fortunate to have Pete Limoges from SunDog Tour Co. as our guide, and he was extremely knowledgeable about the area. Maligne Canyon is often the first stop on the tour and includes a guided walk to the first two bridges above the gorge. However, there is a coffee shop on-site if you don’t want to hike. It is good to note that most of the hikes on this tour will only take you about 15 to 20 minutes.

The complete order of the tour will depend on whether a cruise on Maligne Lake is included, and what time it is scheduled. Some of the other highlights include Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake, where you can enjoy an easy hike along the Mary Schaffer loop. This is a paved trail, which makes it a little easier for those with mobility restrictions. Your driver and guide will point out wildlife as you go and stop for photos if safe to do so. They will also have water and, if it is raining, ponchos available for you. You can also ask the driver to drop you off at a different location than your hotel if you are located somewhere far from the downtown core and would like to spend some time wandering around town.

If you are on a private tour, they will add in Pyramid Lake if there is time, which is also a great place to go if you have a free day in Jasper.  Pyramid Lake is the warmest lake around Jasper, as it is not glacier-fed, and offers visitors a beach with boat rentals in the summer and skating in the winter.

Day 5

Exploring the Rockies from Jasper to Banff

SunDog Tour Co. will once again be taking care of you, as you make your way down to Banff on the Jasper to Banff Tour Including Ice Explorer. Our driver, Sue, was very friendly and made sure we were well taken care of the entire day. The buses are not equipped with washrooms but there will be washroom breaks throughout the day. There are outlets and USBs on the wall next to each set of seats, and your luggage will be placed in the luggage compartment. Typically, you will find yourself on a 24-seater.

Keep in mind that pickups will start at 8:30 AM, so if your hotel is in the middle of the town your pickup will be a few minutes later, depending on how many guests and hotels are registered for that tour. It is still a good idea, however, to be out and ready for 8:30 AM.

One of the first stops will be Athabasca Falls, one of the most powerful and picturesque waterfalls in Jasper, where you will be able to take in the scenery from a few different vantage points before you continue to the Columbia Icefields and Athabasca Glacier.

You will then make your way to an Ice Explorer, which will take you to the top of the Athabasca Glacier where you can experience this natural wonder up close. From there, you are then taken to the Skywalk, a glass floor observation platform that overlooks a 280m drop.

The Skywalk and Ice Explorer do not run between the second week of October and the first week of May every year. All of our ours which have excursions affected by season closures have been reduced in price accordingly.

As you continue onto Banff, via the Icefields Parkway, you will get to experience one of the most scenic drives in the world. It is an incredibly winding road, however, so make sure you are prepared if you suffer from motion sickness. If there is time, you will have a quick stop for you to enjoy your lunch outside of the bus. Do not forget to order your lunch 48 hours before your tour, especially if you have any dietary restrictions. If you do not place your order, there will be a few pre-picked choices for you to choose from.

One of the last stops before arriving in Banff and Lake Louise is Peyto Lake. Once you arrive in Banff you will be dropped off at your hotel, and then you have the evening to relax and enjoy one of the many wonderful restaurants in town.

Day Six

Experiencing the highlights of Banff

We visited several of the hotels that we partner with in order to learn more about each property and what they have to offer. The Elk + Avenue Hotel, where we stayed, along with the Banff Caribou Lodge, the Fox Hotel & Suites, and the Moose Hotel & Suites are all located relatively close to the downtown core and all four offer guest laundry, have bar fridges in the room, and a restaurant on site that offers breakfast for an additional cost. The Caribou and the Moose have a spa on location, with an additional pool, hot tub, and sauna offered at the Moose.

We also visited The Hotel Canoe & Suites, which is located at the far end of town, although not yet completed. When finished, this hotel will also feature guest laundry, a hot pool, bar fridges in each room, and breakfast available at the on-site restaurant.

The Rimrock Resort Hotel is the only hotel on Mountain Avenue, offering unparalleled views, and is in close proximity to both the Banff Hot Springs and the Banff Gondola. At the moment they offer bus tickets to guests in order to get into town, although next year they will have a shuttle. Although not included, breakfast is available, and the pool is adult-only for the last hour of the day.

The last property that we toured was the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. As this is an older, heritage hotel, all of the rooms are slightly different. The majority of resort activities offered are built into the cost of a night stay, and breakfast is available on-site. The hotel also features a heated outdoor pool and an indoor pool, five pin bowling, a spa, gift shops, a small grocery mart, a liquor store, twelve different eating establishments, and both a nine and eighteen-hole golf course.


Thank you to the Banff Lodging Company, Dan at the Hotel Canoe & Suites, Para at Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa, Sahil at Fox Hotel & Suites, Amelia at Moose Hotel & Suites, Kaoru Goto of the Rimrock Resort Hotel, and Jennifer Rose of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. As well as all of the other staff members.

Your day in Banff will be the last full day in the Canadian Rockies for this tour. It will begin with a half-day Discover Banff Tour Including Gondola, where you will discover the highlights of this mountain community. You will be picked up just outside of the hotel at the bus entrance. If you are on an exclusive or private Canada Rail Vacations tour, it will typically be led by our guide Jake Pawis and your tour will start around 09:00. Jake will be able to take you to areas that the big tour companies cannot go. It is also good to note that on these tours any mobility restrictions are taken into consideration and the tour will be adjusted accordingly.

We were fortunate to explore Banff with Jake, and we began our day at Vermilion Lake, a location that is both great for spotting wildlife and is off the beaten path. After driving past the Cave and Basin and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, our next stop was Bow Falls.

The ride up the gondola offers some beautiful scenery. The gondola itself will take approximately eight minutes to make its way up the mountain, and once at the summit you can explore the information centre, the observation decks, and the boardwalk.

From the gondola you will make your way to Surprise Corner, Two Jack Lake, and Lake Minnewanka. Jake was extremely informative, and we learned about the area’s history and surrounding nature. Our last stop was up on Mt Norquay, overlooking everything we had already seen and done and was a wonderful way to end the tour.

If you are interested in spending time at the Banff Hot Springs or downtown after the tour, you can ask to be dropped off at a different location rather than heading back to your hotel.

Day Seven and Eight

Travelling on the Rocky Mountaineer

Both the seventh and eighth day of the Train Lover’s Dream Tour will begin bright and early as you are picked up from your hotel by the Rocky Mountaineer. You can check in for the Rocky Mountaineer the day before you depart Banff, after your Banff tour, in either the lobby of the Banff Caribou Lodge, the Moose Hotel & Suites, the Rimrock Resort Hotel, or the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. You can also check in at the downtown Banff guest centre. When you check in you will receive your ticket, with your seat number and name of your Kamloops hotel, as well as your luggage tags.

After you first board you will meet your hosts that will be taking care of you for the next two days. We travelled in GoldLeaf Service and our hosts were Gena, Jarrod, AJ, and Celia. They were all extremely helpful and friendly, and made sure we were well taken care of. They were also very informative and told us facts and stories about the different areas that we travelled through. We were also introduced to our Guest Service Manager, James Bird, and our Train Manager, Andrea Brims.

GoldLeaf Service features the bi-level dome car and the washrooms are located on the lower level. There is a lift that you can use if you struggle with the stairs, even if you don’t have a wheelchair. You only have to ask your hosts to use it.

In GoldLeaf Service, there are two separate seatings for meals, and although there is not necessarily a limit for how long you can sit in the dining room, they will let you know when they are going to flip for the second seating. The second day onboard you will be given a different seating, which means each guest will experience both first and second seatings for meals.

In SilverLeaf Service you will have your meals served at your seat. It is important that you tell us when booking your allergies and dietary requirements, particularly when booking SilverLeaf Service as you do not have the ability to customize your meals like you do in GoldLeaf Service, and there are less options available.

SilverLeaf Service has more of a nostalgic feel than GoldLeaf Service but does have a smaller outdoor vestibule. Every car, regardless of level of service, will have two washrooms available, and they are kept incredibly clean throughout the two days.

Before you arrive in Kamloops, at the end of your first day onboard the train, your hosts will pass out your hotel key cards and take any orders for souvenirs that you wish to purchase onboard. When you get into the station you will board a bus that will take you to your hotel, where your luggage will be waiting for you in your room. Our driver, Melvin, gave us facts about the area as we made our way to the hotel, and the Rocky Mountaineer host on the bus was very informative about what the next day’s process would be. Although you are well fed on the train, if you are hungry when you arrive in Kamloops you can head straight to one of the local restaurants, as you do not need to worry about your luggage or checking into the hotel. Kamloops also does have a food delivery service, so if you don’t want to go anywhere you can always order something to the hotel.

The next morning, we left our luggage in our rooms to be picked up and made our way back to the train. Any souvenirs that you were interested in purchasing were at your seats for you to look over. If you didn’t end up liking it or decided that you didn’t wish to purchase it anymore, you just let your hosts know.

After another day of wonderful food, drinks, and stories, you will arrive back in Vancouver. Your luggage will be on your bus that will take you from the train to your hotel. When you arrive at the hotel, you will need to pick up your luggage and check in.

We would like to thank Franziska Loehr of Rocky Mountaineer for continuing to work with us and helping us with this trip.

Day Nine

One last day in Vancouver

Most of the hotels in Vancouver have a check-out time of noon, so you will have the morning to sleep in and relax before departing. We recommend getting a taxi to make your way to the airport. As of 2024, the taxi fare ranges between CAD $40 to $50 and will take approximately 35 minutes, depending on traffic. Taxis accept all major credit cards and Canadian Dollars.

If you have booked private tours and transfers, your driver will pick you up from your hotel’s main entrance. Please be there five minutes before your departure time, with your provided voucher on hand, or visible on your mobile device.

If you are interested in experiencing this tour for yourself you can contact us at [email protected] to request a quote.