Views from Aboard the Rocky Mountaineer

Written by | Travel

The largest privately-owned passenger rail service in North America, the Rocky Mountaineer traverses historic rail routes to destinations in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada. While it’s all luxury aboard, the main star is what’s outside.

Text and photos by Mark A. Thompson


The best reason to ride the Rocky Mountaineer is outside the train. The custom-built GoldLeaf Service coaches feature an open-air vestibule on the main floor, and it is here that you’ll feel the wind through your hair and the sun on your face as the train travels through some of the most glorious landscapes on the planet.


Rocky Mountaineer’s 75 railcars travel only in daylight to insure that you see it all: The soaring peaks and deep river canyons of the Canadian Rockies are punctuated by forests of birch, poplar and conifers. The saw-toothed mountains give way to cascading waterfalls and churning rivers. Keep your camera at hand for shimmering high-altitude lakes, desert landscapes speckled with cactus and, of course, the hoodoos — those tall, thin spires of rock that look like nature’s totem poles.


From your fellow rail aficionados there might come a shout: a bear sighting or an osprey nest. Eagles soar and dip in a sky as cerulean as the legendarily beautiful Lake Louise (not far from Banff). Wildlife fans should keep an eye out for elk and moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. You’ll also pass through natural wonders such as Hells Gate (the narrowest point of the Fraser River), around the spiral tunnels, and along the Great Continental Divide where the waters flow toward either the Atlantic or the Pacific.


Once you’ve seen the world from a stylish seat on one of its most luxurious trains, you’ll understand why the Rocky Mountaineer has secured its reputation as a life-changing experience. Get your ticket at

This story was excerpted from “8 Reasons to Ride the Rocky Mountaineer,” published in our April/May 2014 issue. Enjoy new ways to discover our world each week in Geoscope.

Last modified: January 30, 2018