Friday, August 25, 2023

Detailed Review & Five Tips for Rocky Mountaineer: Banff to Vancouver


In May 2023, we joined the Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver. This two night journey is a trip of a lifetime. In this post, I’ll share all the details and the timeline of the experience. Here’s the highlights:



Day 1: Banff, Alberta, Canada

We spent a few pre-nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs before joining the tour. When you arrive in Banff or the day before your tour is set to start, if you are in a SilverLeaf hotel, you’’ll head to the Rocky Mountaineer Guest Center at 220 Bear Street to pick up your packet.  If you are staying at Gold Leaf hotel. If you are staying at Gold Leaf hotel, your package will be at the Rocky Mountaineer desk in the hotel.

We stayed the Ptarmigan Inn. It was in a great location with a restaurant and bar, hot tubs, sauna, steam room, and comfortable rooms.

 My recommendations for dinner:

  • The Lodge at Banff Ave Brewing has great pizza.
  • Fire & Flower had a good overall menu.
  • Park Distillery has BBQ.
  • Maple Leaf  requires reservations with a more expensive beef and seafood menu.
  • Elk & Oarsman has cheap beer and a good elk poutine on their rooftop patio.

Day 2 Train to Kamloops

7:00 am – We met in our lobby. Our baggage was waiting for us. We grabbed it and headed outside.
7:05 am  - The bus arrived. We had one additional stop and arrived at the rail yard at 7:28 am. It was only a 5 minute ride to the rail yard once we had everyone onboard.

When you arrive, look for the flag with the car number that matches your boarding pass. It was a bit of walk – about 3 – 4 minutes. You’ll also have an assigned seat. We had a brand new car.

Gold Leaf service cars have an upper dome car, a lower dining car, two bathrooms, and an open air platform.

We had our safety briefing. The Gold Leaf cars hold around 80 people so the group is split into two for dining. One group goes first the first and the second on the second day.

8:06 am - First group headed to breakfast. The train was not yet moving.

8:27 am – We were on the move.

9:04 am - Castle mountain appeared on the right side of the train as you are facing forward

 Around 9:45 am the second group went down to breakfast. While the first group is at breakfast, the second group is served coffee cake, coffee or tea.

Tip #1: During meals, it can be hard to hear the narration. I recommend looking ahead in the Mile Post so you have a sense of what you’ll be seeing.

10:35 ish – We see the spiral tunnels. The left side is best for viewing. It’s also morning happy hour. All drinks are included in Gold Leaf.

12:45 pm -  First group goes down for a 3 course lunch: set appetizer, choice of main entrée, and choice of dessert

Lunch takes about 2 hours so the second group doesn’t start lunch until around 3:00 pm.

After lunch, we changed to Vancouver time – one hour back from Banff time.

5:40 pm Vancouver time – Wine and cheese time.

8:25 pm We arrived in Kamloops. We received our hotel keys and tomorrow’s pick up time on the train. It’s a short ride to the Doubletree. Our luggage was waiting in our room when we arrived at 8:45 pm.

 Important to Know: No time to explore in Kamloops. Due to train delays, chances are very good, you will not have a lot of time to explore Kamloops. We had so much food on the train that we were not hungry for dinner.

Day 3: Train to Vancouver … maybe

 7:00 am Pick up time at Doubletree. We left at 7:10 am and arrived at the Kamloops station at 7:25 am. We waited on the bus until the train was ready.  We got onboard at 7:45 am

 8:00 am The first group went down to breakfast as the train was leaving the yard.

 Now, this when things started to go off track. We lost power in our car delaying breakfast. We also got stopped because of construction on the track.

 10:40 am Back on the move

12:40 pm First group goes to lunch. Second group receives snacks.

 We had further train delays throughout the afternoon. They let us know we would not make it to Vancouver via train. We received a dinner at our seats around 7:00 pm. The train stopped at 8:00 pm at small station. We walked through about 10 cars on the train to disembark and board a bus. At 9:07 pm, the bus left.

 We arrived in Vancouver about 2 hours later. We did not receive keys so we had to stand in line to check in. This is not the best ending to the tour.

Day 4: Check out of Vancouver hotel

 Your last day is basically checking out of the hotel


Tip #2: Definitely start in Banff. I was sad that we didn’t get to take the train the whole way. I would have been devasted to miss the most scenic part of the ride if we had been going in the opposite direction.  For this direction, I recommend requesting a left side full window or I can do that for you if you book with me. 

Tip #3: Consider wearing compression socks. While the Gold Leaf service gives you the most options for moving around, you are sitting for 10 to 12 hours during the journey.

Tip#4: Only bring a very small bag. The under seat area is smaller than an airplane. 

Tip #5: Press your lens / phone to the glass. This will eliminate the glare from the window when taking a picture. 

Bonus Tip: Dress in layers. You are passing through different climate. The train car can be hot or cool. You can request a blanket. 


If you’d like to book your Rocky Mountaineer trip with me, email



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