The mountains, canyons and deserts of the Canadian Rockies and American Southwest have a new story for Rocky Mountaineer guests in autumn.
Passengers can see it unfolding in luxurious and unhurried style from a comfortable reclining seat aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, one of the world’s great rail adventures.
Brilliant fall colours seem to amplify the thrill of natural, open spaces. Animals become more active as they fatten for winter. In September, the needles on deciduous conifer larch trees near Banff, Alberta transform from green to brilliant golden-yellow in an annual display that draws photographers and nature lovers eager to experience their fleeting dramatic beauty.
There’s even the possibility you’ll see a dusting of snow on the First Passage to the West, Journey Through the Clouds or Rainforest to Gold Rush trips between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies.
Guests can experience the American Southwest like never before aboard the newest Rocky Mountaineer rail route, Rockies to the Red Rocks, which travels the scenic route between Moab, Utah and Denver, Colorado.
In autumn, elk and deer sightings are more common on this Rocky Mountaineer adventure. The leaves on Aspen trees change to ruby, gold and orange, contrasting with red-brown canyon walls, hoodoos and deserts.
Whatever the season, a journey on the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada or the U.S. combines pampering, incredible vistas and excellent local cuisine in an excursion that embraces the slow-travel spirit of days long past.
As I arrived at the Rocky Mountaineer Station in Vancouver for my First Passage to the West trip to Banff, I had images of movie romance and adventure in my head. The station master called, “All Aboard!” and I crossed the red carpet to be welcomed onboard the famous train.
In the quiet world of the domed carriage, it felt like my only jobs were to watch the scenery, look for wildlife and occasionally read a few pages of my book before drifting off for a catnap in my seat.
Whether travelling in GoldLeaf or SilverLeaf glass-dome coaches, expect inspiring views and generous hospitality. I also spent time on the outdoor viewing platform, chatting with fellow passengers as they took photos. We marvelled at the incredible scenery as the train made its way through rainforests, semi-desert and alongside rushing rivers, the roar of the water drowning out the clicking of the train wheels on the tracks.
Guests on a Rocky Mountaineer journey won’t miss a thing. Days are spent on the train, and nights are in a comfortable nearby hotel, so not a moment of daylight views goes to waste.
After a quick transfer from the train station on the first day, I checked in to find my luggage waiting for me in my room.
Back on the train, knowledgeable Onboard Hosts had stories to tell about scenic places and historic events we passed on the route. The trains travel at an average speed of 50 km/hr, and the engineer often slows for photo opportunities. They also flag wildlife sightings to the Onboard Hosts, who tell passengers where to look. On my trip, excited passengers called out when they spotted black bears, elk, eagles and mountain sheep.
Outside Kamloops, B.C., millions of Sockeye salmon make their final journey upstream to lay their eggs in fall, as bears and eagles arrive for the feast.
I was amazed at the expertise of our Onboard Hosts, Tyler, Trevor and Train Manager, Colin. Tyler told us all about the salmon spawn, finishing with an amusing poem about the salmon run written by a guest.
When you want to relax, a craft cocktail or local wines and beers are served to your seat. A cup of coffee with a swirl of Baileys Irish Cream hits the spot on a lazy afternoon. As for the food, the cuisine is fresh, creative and delicious, with options for vegetarian and vegan guests.
Rocky Mountaineer Executive Chef Kaelhub Cudmore, who leads the Canadian culinary program, says his multi-course menus are inspired by where the train travels and include regionally and locally sourced ingredients.
“We showcase the incredible scenery outside by telling the stories of the land through the meals we serve inside,” he says. “We use the freshest ingredients possible, so we often see vegetable side dishes or accent flavours adjusting toward the fall.”
You’ve never experienced travel to Canada’s Rockies or the beautiful American Southwest like aboard the Rocky Mountaineer: A journey from another era with 2023 luxury.
Ready to have your autumn experience on the famous Rocky Mountaineer?
Book an appointment with a CAA Travel Consultant to plan your rail journey.