We all know that everything changed as a result of the pandemic. Rocky Mountaineer–the luxury train that takes thousands of people across the Canadian Rockies each year–had to suspend the entire season. But Rocky Mountaineer is back, with luxury train journeys starting in Canada on July 5, 2021, followed by the launch of the new US route in August 2021. Come step onboard Rocky Mountaineer for unforgettable luxury train travel in the Rocky Mountains.

Rocky Mountaineer passes by Vermillion Lake on the First Passage to the West route. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

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Rocky Mountaineer Survives the Pandemic

I have had the privilege of taking Rocky Mountaineer out of Vancouver into the Canadian Rockies on three life-changing journeys. These are truly remarkable trips, each filled with incredible wow moments. Because I had gotten to know the people who play such a vital role in making guests feel welcome–from the moment you begin planning your trip until the last moment when you head home–I kept hoping the luxury train would survive.

Throughout the season, hosts serve more than 4,000 cases of wine, helping create a jovial onboard atmosphere. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

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Not only did Rocky Mountaineer survive, but it is also back with its breathtaking routes in Western Canada and a new route that takes guests into what I believe is the most beautiful part of the US–my home in the Colorado Rockies. Rocky Mountaineer is ready to take you on the trip of a lifetime.

Canadian Journeys on Rocky Mountaineer

In previous articles, I answer some of the questions many people have about Rocky Mountaineer–no, you don’t sleep on the train; and yes, you really do get to enjoy gourmet food.

It is no small feat to serve up such world-class meals on a moving train. Lunch service is delightful in the GoldLeaf Service dining room. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

Because of the travel restrictions still in place in many countries, Rocky Mountaineer encourages Canadian citizens to jump on board, and experience luxury train travel this summer in their own backyards.

Canada’s beloved Mount Robson is imposing as Rocky Mountaineer approaches it on the Journey Through the Clouds route. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

There are several key journeys, and you can customize each one to fit your schedule and your budget. I have experienced two of the routes: First Passage to the West, which runs from Vancouver to Banff/Lake Louise via Kamloops, and Journey Through the Clouds, which runs from Vancouver to Jasper via Kamloops. Both are also available east to west, ending your journey in Vancouver.

Banff welcomes visitors after two days on the train. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

There is also the Rainforest to Gold Rush route, which runs from Vancouver to Jasper via Whistler and Quesnel. You can also combine routes, add in excursions and escapes. For example, I’ve enjoyed some fabulous spa visits, hiking at Moraine Lake, riding the Banff Gondola, and more.

Take an excursion to Moraine Lake after arriving in Banff. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

I traveled each time in GoldLeaf Service, which features a bi-level glass dome coach, luxury seats, and eating in the dining room for breakfast and lunch.

The comfortable interior of GoldLeaf Service coach. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

Specials to Inspire Canadians to Travel

Rocky Mountaineer knows it has been a tough year for everyone, and Canadians continue to face challenges at the border. There’s never been a better time to explore Western Canada. There are several promotions exclusively for Canadians to discover what is in their own backyard:

  • Rocky Mountaineer partnered with Fairmont Hotels to offer savings of up to $2,900 per couple on packages that pair the train with overnight stays in Fairmont properties. I have stayed at Fairmont properties in Vancouver, Banff, and Jasper and each one offered something to make the stays memorable.
  • Alberta and British Columbia residents can travel on Rocky Mountaineer this year and receive a voucher to take another luxury train journey within the next five years.
  • All Canadian residents save up to $1,400 per couple on vacation packages of five days or more.

Fairmont Banff Springs offers a fairytale stay in Banff National Park. Photo courtesy Fairmont Hotels

Luxury Train Travel in the Colorado Rockies

I grew up on the Western Slope of Colorado, with the breathtaking beauty of the Colorado Rockies in my backyard. Although I no longer live there, I still think of it as home and enjoy visiting family whenever possible. There is nothing quite so amazing as summer in the Rockies. This year, you can experience the Colorado Rockies with Rocky Mountaineer by booking the Rockies to the Red Rocks journey.

The train rolls into–our out off–Union Station in downtown Denver. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

Railroads played such a huge part in the history of this area, that it makes me smile to think of luxury train travel in the area. The journeys go from Moab, Utah to Denver, Colorado. Moab, with its beautiful red rocks and surrounding Mighty 5 US National Parks is an ideal place to play before you board the train. The first stop along the way is Glenwood Springs, a beautiful mountain town with a famous hot spring. You continue your journey on to Denver the second day and can extend your stay to explore the Mile High City from there.

While in Denver with Rocky Mountaineer, you can explore Red Rocks just west of the city. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

Rocky Mountaineer also lets you begin your luxury train journey in Denver, Las Vegas, or Salt Lake City as part of available packages. If you prefer a longer experience, you can book a roundtrip and see the mountains and abundant wildlife at different times of the day.

Rockies to the Red Rocks offers SilverLeaf Service in a single-level domed coach to accommodate the many tunnels in the Colorado Rockies.

SilverLeaf Service features a one-level domed coach. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

You can book SilverLeaf Plus, which includes an elevated dining service, access to the lounge car and outdoor viewing area, as well as signature cocktails at your seat or in the new lounge.

In SilverLeaf, you enjoy meals at your seat. Book SilverLeaf Plus to enjoy specialty cocktails and lounge access. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountaineer

Health and Safety with Rocky Mountaineer

Rocky Mountaineer has always been extremely concerned about the happiness and welfare of its guests. Taking that to the next level has been part of the relaunch following COVID-19. Rocky Mountaineer has gone out of its way to make accommodations so that every guest and team member feels safe.

Some of the safety measures in place include:

  • All guests must undergo health screening and a rapid COVID-19 test before starting the journey.
  • All trains have high-end air filtration systems that remove 99.9% of airborne viruses and bacteria and continuously circulate fresh air.
  • There is more space between travel groups and there are glass barriers between tables in the dining room.
  • Train interiors receive thorough sanitization using an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer. Every train seat and tray table are sanitized prior to each travel day. High-touch areas are sanitized throughout the journey. Hand sanitizer is available in each coach.
  • As much as possible, passengers travel with the same group on their motorcoach transfers as in the rail car.
  • Groups traveling together are limited to six people and distance is maintained between different groups. Physical distancing is not required on the US route.

Other guidelines are available on Rocky Mountaineer’s website. Conditions may change as the pandemic situation changes. As of the July 5 launch, guests and team members must wear a face covering at all times on and off the train, while boarding and detraining, and on motorcoach transfers. You will be able to remove your mask while eating and drinking.

How to Book Your Rocky Mountaineer Journey

Never has there been a better time for luxury train travel. Rocky Mountaineer has been one of the best travel experiences ever for me. I’m never disappointed and always feel welcome by the hosts. I truly have so many amazing moments to remember from each of my trips. This is such a great way to book a vacation and explore what is in your own backyard–in a way you just can’t do on a road trip.

Rocky Mountaineer takes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham