The storied beauty of the Rocky Mountains awaits your exploration on this 10-day journey, which features excursions to three of the four national parks that make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as Glacier National Park in Montana, and concludes with a memorable trip to the one and only Calgary Stampede.
About the Tour
Ten days of mountains, glaciers, pristine lakes, national parks and unforgettable experiences beckon on this rail tour to Canada. The excitement begins with an overnight journey aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder. As the train pulls into the station in Whitefish, MT, the first peaks of the Canadian Rockies come into view. We spend a full day taking in the awe-inspiring scenes of Glacier National Park in Montana before crossing the border into Canada. A brief stop in Cranbrook allows us to see one of the largest collections of vintage train cars in North America, and we are also treated to the insurmountable beauty of Kootenay National Park before arriving in Banff. Our time in Banff brings visits to Lake Louise, the Columbia Icefield and the Yoho Valley, as well as a ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain aboard the Banff Gondola. As if the adventures in the Rockies were not enough, the tour wraps up with even more thrills in Calgary at the Calgary Stampede. Whether it is the serenity of nature or tradition and urban culture you seek, this rail vacation is your ticket to the best of both worlds.
- Rail travel on Amtrak (1 night on train)
- Hotel accommodations for 8 nights
- 11 meals, including lunch at the Cranbrook History Centre’s Royal Alexandra Hall
- Meals onboard the train included when upgrading to private sleeping accommodations
- Going-to-the-Sun Road aboard vintage Red Jammer buses
- Cranbrook History Centre, featuring the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel
- Glacier, Kootenay, Banff and Yoho National Parks sightseeing
- Visit to Lake Louise
- Columbia Icefields, including a ride on the Ice Explorer
- Heritage Park visit
- Calgary Stampede, including admission tickets to the Grandstand Show, Chuckwagon Races and 6 major rodeo events
- National park entrance fees
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Baggage handling
Activity Level View Details
Day 1 – Depart Chicago aboard the Empire Builder
Arrive at Chicago Union Station to meet your tour manager and fellow travelers. Board the Empire Builder, settle into your onboard accommodations and prepare for your overnight rail journey. Travelers may elect to travel from Seattle or points in-between and meet the group in Whitefish, MT. Overnight train.
Day 2 – En Route to Whitefish, MT
Your time aboard the Empire Builder is spent admiring the picturesque scenery. Sights of mountains, plains and brilliant blue skies leave the lights of the city in the background. Take time to admire the changing scenery from the Sightseer Lounge Car. Large panoramic windows provide the perfect lookout over the natural undulations in the land. Upon arrival in Whitefish, transfer to your hotel. Overnight Whitefish, MT.
Day 3 – Glacier National Park
One of the most iconic ways to enjoy the lush landscape of Glacier National Park is from vintage Red Jammer buses. These “Rubies of the Rockies” were built in the 1930s and feature iconic red paint that was inspired by ripe mountain ash berries in Glacier National Park, as well as roll-back convertible tops that allow for unobstructed views from all angles. With the top back and the windows down, we make our way along the gorgeous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Learn about the wildlife, geology and history of the park from your Jammer, the quirky name for Glacier’s tour bus drivers, which originated from the “jamming” of the gears up Going-to-the-Sun Road before the bus transmissions were switched to automatic. Lean your head back and gaze up at the imposing mountain peaks and big blue skies. Enjoy the peaceful ambiance that overtakes you when there is not a building in sight, just vast meadows, plunging valleys and rugged mountain scenes. Highlights along the way include the Crown of the Continent at Logan’s Pass, Lake McDonald Valley, St. Mary Valley and Swiftcurrent Valley. Overnight Whitefish, MT. (B)
Day 4 – Cranbrook/Kootenay National Park/Banff
We make our way across the Canadian border en route to Banff in the heart of the Canadian Rockies this morning. The journey is taken by deluxe motorcoach, and from our comfortable seats, we gaze upon the beautiful Kootenay and Purcell Mountains. The first stop of the day is in Cranbrook, BC. Here we learn about the history of Cranbrook and the surrounding area through the collections at the Cranbrook History Centre and get acquainted with the region’s railway history at the museum’s Canadian Museum of Rail Travel. In fact, this museum houses 28 historic rail cars - one of the largest collections in North America! The cars are in a constant state of restoration, allowing visitors to experience the various stages of caring for vintage trains as a docent tells their stories. We also enjoy lunch at the museum in the 1906 Royal Alexandra Hall, which was saved from demolition in Winnipeg. Back on the road, we continue north through Radium Hot Springs and Kootenay National Park before arriving in Banff this afternoon. Check in at the hotel, with the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight Banff, AB. (B, L)
Day 5 – Lake Louise/Columbia Icefield/Yoho Valley
A day of exploration lies ahead, as we set out through some of the great most popular locales in the Canadian Rockies. Our excursion begins in Lake Louise, where the surrounding mountain vistas are complemented by the turquoise-colored waters of the glacier-fed lake. We enjoy ample time to explore here before continuing to the Columbia Icefield via Icefields Parkway - Canada’s most scenic highway. Upon arrival at the icefield, we board an Ice Explorer and head out for an unforgettable experience atop an expansive glacier. The final expedition of the day takes us into the beautifully scenic Yoho Valley to the Spiral Tunnels - a marvel of engineering that made it possible for trains to pass through the steep grade of Kicking Horse Pass. Return to Banff, where the evening is at leisure. Overnight Banff, AB. (B)
Day 6 – Banff Sightseeing
Spend the day enjoying the undeniable splendor of downtown Banff and Banff National Park at your own pace. Surrounded by views of Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade, downtown Banff is brimming with stunning views and laid-back ambiance. You may spend some time meandering through the shops, restaurants and galleries, or take a dip in Banff Upper Hot Springs. The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is a favorite with visitors, as is Banff Park Museum. If you desire adventure, there are over 1,000 miles of well-maintained hiking trails throughout the park, as well as ziplining courses, mountain bike trails, waterways for whitewater rafting, wildlife tours and so much more. Later this afternoon, head to the Banff Gondola for a ride above the treetops to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. The ride to the top takes less than 10 minutes, and upon arrival, you have time to explore the Banff Interpretive Center, to soak in views of six mountain ranges from the rooftop deck, to watch a film in the Banff Theater and to explore on foot by crossing the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk to reach Sanson’s Peak. Enjoy dinner in Banff this evening before spending the remainder of the evening at leisure. Overnight Banff, AB. (B, D)
Day 7 – En Route to Calgary
Watch as the dramatic scenery of Alberta changes from mountains to city as we drive towards Calgary today. Our drive takes us out of the front range of the Rockies and through unique little hills known as drumlins. Past the hills, we cross over Scott Lake Hill before arriving on flatter land, where the cities come into view and small rock formations signify the last remnants of the Canadian Rockies. Entering into Calgary city limits, we head to Heritage Park, Canada’s largest living history museum. Immerse yourself in yesteryear by speaking with costumed interpreters and visiting interactive displays that showcase the development of Western Canada. Following our visit, our motorcoach takes us to our downtown Calgary hotel, where we have the evening at leisure to get acquainted with the city. Overnight Calgary, AB. (B)
Day 8 – Calgary Stampede
Today is a free day in Calgary. Work your way through the landmarks and hotspots of the city or use your included admission tickets to visit the Calgary Stampede. The Calgary Zoo is a favorite of visitors, as is the Glenbow Museum, where local arts and history are presented through interesting displays. Seeing the architecture of the city and the surrounding scenery from the Calgary Tower is an experience not to miss. If you are in the mood for nature, Prince’s Island Park and the Riverwalk are gorgeous. Of course, there are numerous museums, galleries and shops to explore, as well. Tonight we meet at Stampede Park for a special dinner in the Clubhouse, located on the fourth level of the Grandstand, before the main event, the Chuckwagon Races and Grandstand Show. The Chuckwagon Races are an event to remember, as 36 wagon drivers compete for over $1 million in prize money. Feel the excitement build over each of the nine heats, as sounds of horse hooves pounding the earth fill the air. When the winner crosses the finish line, the Grandstand Show begins. Acrobats, musicians, dancers and other talented performers entertain us all night before the evening concludes with a colorful fireworks display. Overnight Calgary, AB. (B, D)
Day 9 – Calgary Stampede
The morning is yours to continue your explorations of Calgary. This afternoon, we make our way to the Stampede Grounds for the world-renowned Stampede Rodeo. Take in the sights and sounds of the rodeo, shop at the many vendors, sample the food and experience the amazing events. Traditional rodeo events, such as bareback bronc riding, bull riding, barrel racing, saddle bronc, steer wrestling and tie-down roping, keep the excitement going all throughout the day and into the evening. Overnight Calgary, AB. (B)
Day 10 – Tour Conclusion
Your Calgary Stampede adventure concludes after breakfast this morning. A group transfer to Calgary International Airport will accommodate flights departing after 1:00 p.m. (B)
Hotels include Grouse Mountain Lodge (Whitefish), Banff Royal Canadian Lodge (Banff, AB) and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Calgary Downtown (Calgary, AB)
Amtrak accommodations are available in Coach class, Roomette, and Bedroom. Coach accommodations include a reclining seat with leg rest. Roomette accommodations include a private cabin featuring two comfortable seats beside a picture window during the day, converting to an upper and lower berth at night. Bedroom accommodations feature a sofa and chair by day and upper and lower berth by night. Bedroom accommodations also include a sink and self-enclosed toilet and shower. All travelers have access to the Sightseer Lounge. Roomette and bedroom accommodations include all meals aboard the train.
+Vacations By Rail can supply connecting rail from your closest Amtrak Station.
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