If you want to explore the majestic Canadian Rockies, why not leave your car behind and see this stunning region from the perspective of a train/bus? This way, you won’t have to pay attention to traffic and the road, but can focus all your sense on the magnificent scenery of this region.
Rocky Mountaineer’s Western Explorer Excursion takes passengers through the Rocky Mountains of Canada, on a journey that can undoubtedly be regarded as one of the world’s greatest railway journeys.
Western Explorer Excursion Itinerary
The six-day, five-night Western Explorer Excursions offers you the chance to experience several of the most awe-inspiring places in Western Canada. Destinations include the scenic town of Banff, breathtaking Lake Louise, Jasper, and the largest national park in Canada. This is a one-way journey. You can choose to do it in an eastbound or westbound direction, respectively starting in Vancouver and ending in Calgary or vice versa.
The itinerary of the Western Explorer Excursion consists of two parts. In this article, we’ll describe the eastbound journey. If you’re interested in the westbound itinerary, simply reverse the schedule below. The first part of the journey is done by train—the iconic “Journey Through the Clouds” on the Rocky Mountaineer—while the second part is done by coach. The train ride is from Vancouver to Jasper. The coach ride takes you from Jasper to Calgary. The detailed itinerary is as follows.
Day 1 – Start in Vancouver
On the first day of what will be a journey you’ll remember for the rest of your life, you arrive in Vancouver. Try to get there early so you can explore this vibrant city at your own pace. Spend the night in Vancouver, at one of the hotels that are included in the price.
Day 2 – Train from Vancouver to Kamloops
Get aboard the Rocky Mountaineer in Vancouver for the first leg of the two-day train ride to Jasper. This day, you travel to Kamloops. You’ll notice the dramatic change of scenery as you make your way into the Canadian Rockies. From the Fraser Valley’s lush green meadows, through dense forest, across rivers and underneath the towering peaks of the Cascade Mountains, you eventually reach the desert-like landscapes of inland British Columbia.
Major highlights are Hell’s Gate’s rushing waters and the cliffs and rock formations along the Thompson River. You will spend the night in Kamloops.
Day 3 – Train from Kamloops to Jasper
The “Journey Through the Clouds” continues on day three. Today, you will travel northeast, deep into the Rocky Mountains, crossing the provincial border into Alberta. This scenic section is truly breathtaking, so make sure to keep your camera close at hand.
Today, you will get to see the spectacular 91-meter Pyramid Falls, a glacier-fed waterfall that tumbles from a hanging valley into the Thompson River below. The train passes right underneath the waterfalls, allowing you to feel the mist on your face. Before scaling Yellowhead Pass into Jasper National Park, you have the chance to admire Mount Robson, nicknamed “The Great White Fright”, the tallest mountain peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 meters. Spend the night in Jasper.
Day 4 – Coach from Jasper to Lake Louise
On the fourth day, you exchange the train for the bus. The journey continues eastward along the phenomenal and justifiably famous Icefields Parkway. A stop on the way offers you the opportunity to see iconic Athabasca Falls from up close, before you arrive at the Columbia Icefield.
There, you will explore the enormous Athabasca Glacier on an Ice Explorer, a huge six-wheel off-road vehicle. An adventure that will be engraved in your memory for a long time, this excursion lasts three hours. A knowledgeable guide explains the geology of the area as well as its history as you ride around this vast expanse of ice and snow.
After this glacier adventure, the coach stops at picturesque Bow Lake before arriving in Lake Louise, your stop for the night.
Day 5 – Coach from Lake Louise to Banff
You have the whole morning to explore gorgeous Lake Louise on your own. One of the most famous and visited lakes in the Canadian Rockies, this lake is fed by a glacier and surrounded by high mountain peaks.
After a delicious lunch, you go on a half-day tour of nearby Yoho National Park. In this magnificent park, you can see a number of great natural attractions, including Emerald Lake, the Spiral Tunnels and a natural bridge spanning the Kicking Horse River. Afterward, a short ride brings you to Banff, located in Banff National Park, where you will spend the night.
Day 6 – Coach from Banff to Calgary
The last section of the coach ride across the Canadian Rockies is from Banff to Calgary, the ending point of this epic journey across Western Canada. The coach can drop you off in downtown Calgary, in case you want to extend your trip, or at Calgary International Airport.
The price of course includes transportation—that’s what this whole trip is about, after all. It includes two days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer SilverLeaf or GoldLeaf Service, train station transfers in Vancouver, Kamloops and Jasper, baggage handling and a national parks pass, as well as the transfer from Banff to Calgary (or vice versa if westbound). The Icefields Parkway Tour is also included, which encompasses the coach ride from Jasper to Lake Louise (or vice versa) and the Ice Explorer excursion on the Athabasca Glacier.
You can also enjoy two complimentary breakfasts and two complimentary lunches. Five nights at a hotel are covered as well.
The price of base packages ranges between $2,119 and $3,999, depending on whether you choose the SilverLeaf, GoldLeaf or GoldLeaf Deluxe packages. Naturally, the more you pay, the more luxury you can expect. However, even the cheapest package offers you all comforts and amenities you could possible want on a journey like this. There’s not really any need to spend several thousands of dollars on this epic journey—unless you can afford it of course.
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