train tours

Old Jan 7th, 2004, 07:38 AM
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train tours

My husband and I are thinking of touring some of western canada in june. We're thinking of part on our own and maybe part by train tour. Does anyone have any suggestions on good tours? We've never been to this area and need suggestions on what to do and where to stay. We'd like nice hotels. Also don't know anything about the train tours. Thanks.
jobeydog is offline  
Old Jan 7th, 2004, 08:09 AM
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Check out Via Rail.

Good Luck, Richard
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Old Jan 7th, 2004, 08:54 AM
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I think there is a special tourist train (timed to travel at the right times of day) called the Rocky Mountaineer. I have heard it is very nice, but not cheap.
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Old Jan 7th, 2004, 09:22 AM
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I know there are trains between Vancouver and Calgary and also between Vancouver and Jasper, but I don't know many details other than the fact that, as Doh said, they are not cheap. Your itinerary would depend on how much time you had to spend.

Ideally it would be nice to have a couple of days in Vancouver (although Greater Vancouver and Victoria easily could occupy a week or two in their own right).

I think (but don't know for sure) that a train from Vancouver to Calgary or Banff would take a couple of days. I believe the Vancouver-Calgary train, for example, stops half way for an overnight hotel stay, so that the train travels through the scenery during daylight hours.

Other stops that would be nice to include, if time permitted, would be Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary.

You could, for example, train from Vancouver to Jasper. Then you could pick up a car in Jasper. (I've never rented a car from Jasper. I hope I'm correct in believing that rental car companies have offices there.)

Jasper deserves a day or two in order to see the local sights (Angel Glacier, Mount Whistler, Maligne Lake, Maligne Canyon).

From Jasper you could drive southwards along the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise, stopping on the way to ride in a Snocoach on the Athabasca Glacier and seeing other sights en route.

Overnight in Lake Louise. Hike from Lake Louise to Lady Agnes Teahouse, and also see Moraine Lake. Sleep in LL again.

Drive from Lake Louise to Banff, stopping on route to walk into Johnston Canyon.

Overnight in Banff or alternatively in Canmore, east of Banff National Park gates.

Drive to Calgary. Whether or not you want to stop in Calgary is optional. If you do stop here, there are recent discussion threads with suggestions for things to do and the most scenic routes for getting from Banff to here. The dinosaur skeletons at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller (which would require pretty much a full day trip from Calgary) are outstanding.

Hotel suggestions:

Vancouver - my information is not current, as we stay with friends there

Jasper - Jasper Park Lodge, if you can afford it

Lake Louise - Post Hotel or Deer Lodge (but only in DL's larger rooms)

Banff - Rimrock (but try to at least have a look at the Banff Springs Hotel and the view from it)

Canmore - Lady Macdonald House, a charming, 12 room B&B (Canmore does not have as much going for it as Banff, but it's okay to use if Banff is fully booked, and LMH is really cute)

Calgary - Fairmont Palliser

My suggestions are expensive. Ask if you want more reasonably priced accommodation.

Just in the last few days there have been many discussion threads about all the places mentioned here. If you do a word search, you'll find a wealth of suggestions.

By the way, please note my comments in earlier threads that lakes such as Louise and Moraine do not thaw until the middle of June. If you want to see them in their turquoise glory, wait till then.

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Old Jan 7th, 2004, 09:49 AM
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wow. what fabulous suggestions. I really appreciate it. I'm pretty confused about all the great things there are to do and very excited.
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Old Jan 7th, 2004, 02:36 PM
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The Rocky Mountaineer has a two-day trip between Vancouver and Jasper, Banff or Calgary. It stops for the night in Kamloops so, as Judy mentioned, you travel in the daytime.

Information about it is on their website under Select a Vacation, 2-4 Day Rail Vacations - Their "GoldLeaf Service" is considerably more expensive than "RedLeaf." They also have a number of tours and packages that include hotels and/or rental cars.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 01:20 PM
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I have been on the Rocky Mountaineer trip and on ViaRail's Skeena between Jasper and Prince Rupert. Both were wonderful but my hands-down favorite was the Skeena. It also is a two-day trip with an overnight stop (in Prince George) so that the travel is done all in daylight and you don't miss any of the superb scenery or wildlife.

The cost of the Skeena will be much less than the cost of the Rocky Mountaineer, however, by the time you factor in the cost of getting to or from Prince Rupert, they might be close to the same.

Either one is a great trip. If you do decide to take the Rocky Mountaineer, I would choose Jasper as my starting or ending point over Calgary. IMO the scenery and wildllife viewing opportunities are much better on the Jasper-Kamloops route than on the Calgary-Kamloops.
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Old Jan 10th, 2004, 01:21 PM
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We have also taken the Skeena from Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert in June and loved it. We started our trip by driving from Vancouver to Banff to Lake Louise to Jasper. On the way to from Lake Louise to Jasper, on the Icefields Parkway, be sure to stop at Athabasca Falls - amazing.

We found Prince Rupert to be a delightful small town with fabulous seafood. We were there for only one day but wished we could have stayed longer. Friends who did a similar trip based on our recommendations, stayed there for five days and did not run out of fun things to do.

We then took the Skeena east to Prince George (a 12 hour trip), stayed overnight in a hotel, and the next day took a BC Rail train south through the Fraser River canyon toward Vancouver. We actually got off the train in Lillouette, a few hours north of Vancouver, where my Dad picked us up for the drive to Vancouver, but the train goes to Vancouver. Fantastic trip. The train track runs along the top edge of the canyon. After looking out the window and down to the bottom of the canyon, my husband moved to the other side of the train! Not for the faint of heart!

If you want to do any of this, you should book it soon. These trains are popular. If it's in your budget, go first class on the Skeena, the view from the dome car is great. We saw several black bears. And the meals are pretty good - excellent salmon.

Enjoy BC!
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