The Rocky Mountaineer is famed for many things: its impeccable service, its onboard amenities, its world-class dining experiences and most of all, its unbeatable routes through the majestic Canadian Rockies. While on board you can choose from SilverLeaf or GoldLeaf Service, both of which offer all of the comforts of home and postcard sights of the changing landscape. While following the Journey Through the Clouds train route, these views will begin on the West Coast in Vancouver and take you deep into the Canadian landscape, all the way into Jasper National Park. Because everything is taken care of for you on the train, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. Keep your camera handy, though; you will want to capture these six highlights of the Rocky Mountaineer Journey Through the Clouds train route.
1. Hell’s Gate
A place where the Fraser River narrows rapidly, Hell’s Gate is a must-see while traveling through Fraser Canyon. At this spot, the river is just 35 meters wide and is bound by jagged cliffs on both sides. The water rushes through this narrow stretch at high speeds, making it a wondrous sight to behold. This stretch of the river gets its name from Samuel Fraser, who in 1808 wrote: “surely this is the gate of hell.”
2. Cisco Crossing
A true engineering masterpiece, Cisco Crossing is a pair of railway bridges that cross over the Fraser River. Each bridge was built in a unique style that met the needs of the railway it was meant to serve. The first bridge was originally built in the 1880s by the Canadian Pacific Railway. At 160 meters long, the bridge is constructed in a truss style, and its steel frame is black in color. Built 30 years later, the Canadian National Railway’s bridge is more complex in design, as it spans 247 meters across the Fraser River. The Canadian National bridge features an arched design and distinct orange coloration. Because the bridges are built side-by-side, you may even catch a glimpse of another train crossing simultaneously.
3. Thompson River Rock Sheds
While not particularly scenic, the Thompson River Rock Sheds are a truly unique highlight of the Rocky Mountaineer Journey Through the Clouds route. Centuries ago, railway workers blasted through the steep, stone cliffs along the Thompson River to create the tracks. As rock erodes from the elements, it often crumbles, and the railway found itself often clearing debris from the tracks all too often. To solve this problem, the Thompson River Rock Sheds were built to divert the path of falling rock over the tracks and down into the river below. You will see several as the train makes its way through this stretch of track.
4. Pyramid Falls
The Journey Through the Clouds route continues on its route through the Canadian Rockies along the North Thompson River, taking the Rocky Mountaineer past yet another breathtaking site: Pyramid Falls. Rising 91 meters above the valley, these falls feature two distinct drops and a constant roar of rushing water plummeting into the Thomson River below. The train passes right along the base of the falls, so not only will you have a fantastic photo opportunity, but you will also be so close that you might see mist from the falls on the windows.
5. Mount Robson
The “Great White Fright,” as it is affectionately known by locals, Mount Robson is the tallest mountain in all of the Canadian Rockies, soaring to a height of 3,954 meters. The massive size of this peak makes it hard to miss; however, taking the time to see it in all of its glory makes for an unforgettable experience. Note the variation in size between Mount Robson and the surrounding mountains and the changes in colors, from the deep emerald hues of the evergreen trees to cool gray of the mountains and the soft white of snow that caps them.
6. Yellowhead Pass
Set 25 kilometers outside of Jasper and crossing the continental divide between Alberta and British Columbia, Yellowhead Pass is one of the last major sights to be seen on the Journey Through the Clouds. This passage was named for a fair-haired trapper who was active here in the early 1800s. As it stands today, this valley corridor lies approximately 1,130 meters above sea level and offers gorgeous views of Yellowhead Lake, lush forests and even wildlife, such as moose, elk, bear, and wolves.
Vacations By Rail offers a variety of packages that allow you to set off on your Journey Through the Clouds. Ranging from 8 to 11 days in length, each offers the opportunity to explore National Parks, UNESCO World Heritage sites and so much more. When you are ready to take on the Canadian Rockies, contact one of our Rail Specialists to find the tour that is right for you.