All the Things You Wanted to Ask About Rocky Mountaineer


Having worked for years on a cruise ship, when I started to think about my first Canadian Rockies train journey, I realized I had many “dumb” questions. I thought you might appreciate the answers:

1. Do I sleep on the Rocky Mountaineer train?

No! You do not sleep on the Rocky Mountaineer train. You will enjoy breakfast, lunch and snacks on the train but you will sleep in hotels.

Lisa Niver is jumping for joy to get on the Rocky Mountaineer Train

2. How do I find the train and get to the station?

You will meet the train representatives in the lobby of your hotel and be transferred to the train station by motor coach. You will receive information and timing the night before your train journey begins.

VIDEO: All Aboard the Train! Rocky Mountaineer is leaving Vancouver

3. What happens with my luggage?

In your packet of information, you will have a boarding pass for the train with your seat number as well as luggage tags and square boarding card. It will tell you what time to be in the lobby and when your luggage will get picked up from your room. You do not need to bring your luggage to the lobby, however, you do need to bring whatever you need during the day. If you need medications, bring them with you. I recommend you bring a portable charger for your phone or camera so you can keep taking photos all day long!

When you arrive at your hotel in Kamloops, your luggage will already be in your room. You also will already be checked in. The train hosts will give you your keys and you can go directly to your room, no waiting in line!

Breakfast on Rocky Mountaineer Train

4. Do I eat breakfast in the hotel?

Absolutely not! Do not eat at the hotel! You will have a lovely made-to-order breakfast on the train. There will be coffee in your hotel lobby if you need that for your short route on the motorcoach. There will also be coffee in the train station. If your route begins in Vancouver, notice that tall windows at the station which used to be the locomotive garage.

5. Where do I eat? What will I eat?

If you are traveling in Goldleaf, you will sit upstairs and watch the beautiful scenery and then go downstairs for your carefully prepared meals. There are two seatings for meals in Goldleaf and if you are second seating for breakfast, you will have freshly baked scones and coffee until your turn for breakfast. The following day you will be first seating. If you have second seating lunch, you will have wine and cheese before you go down to eat.

If you are traveling in SilverLeaf, your food will be brought you in your seat. The menu onboard changes each day and is full of local and regional specialities like salmon and Alberta short ribs beef. The fruit and vegetables are locally sourced.

85% of the food you will eat is cooked on the train. If you need a special menu like halal, kosher or gluten free, please let the Rocky Mountaineer team know in advance. They can also do kid’s menu, ketogenic and all of the sauces onboard are gluten-free. Make sure to look for the recipe book, it even has the cinnamon scone recipe!

VIDEO: Rocky Mountaineer Day 2 Kamloops to Banff

6. How do I dress?

Please wear flat shoes for the train. You only need casual comfortable clothes for your bucket list journey. There are stairs in Goldleaf and they do have a wheelchair lift. When moving around the train especially on the stairs, please hold the handrails.

7. Should I come early to Vancouver? What should I do?

YES! Wherever your journey begins or ends, I recommend you spend extra days and enjoy Canada. In Vancouver, I recommend Grouse Mountain, Capillano suspension bridge, Granville Island and so much more. My train journey was from Vancouver to Banff. During my days in Banff, I went skiing for my first time in Canada at Lake Louise Resort and Gondola and at Banff Sunshine Village. I also stayed at both the Fairmont Banff Springs and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

VIDEO: Do you want to explore Vancouver?

8. Which route should I take?

This is a great question! Feel free to call the team at Rocky Mountaineer to discuss the 65 different options and packages you can choose. I cannot wait to travel again and visit Jasper and see the icefields. I loved my journey aboard Rocky Mountaineer. The host team on board helped us to see osprey nests, eagles, big horn sheep and five bears were sighted. I learned about the history and the environment around us. I loved going through the spiral tunnels and seeing Hells Gate.

9. Where do you take photos?

I took photos from every window upstairs in Goldleaf, during meals through the window and outside on the vestibule. Please enjoy my videos taken from my journey, Classics West. Remember to keep your eyes peeled and listen to the team on board, during my journey there were five bear sightings from our train.


10. Are the seats comfortable?

I loved my chair on the train. Not only is there a table where you can have your wine and cheese, but also there are many ways to move your chair and raise the footrest. The seats are also heated so you can enjoy a “spa” for your lower back while you have your hot towel to cleanse your hands before your meal.

VIDEO: What to Do and Where to Stay in Banff

11. Can I have a meeting or party on the train?

Yes! Every journey on the Rocky Mountaineer might feel like a party with the wine, cheese and new friends you make! However, you can book the lounge car and have a wedding reception or company meeting. You can also go on a cruise and then take the train before or after your sailing.

12. Is there shopping on board?

Yes! There is a souvenir catalog of Rocky Mountaineer products. You order on Day 1 and it will appear on your seat when you arrive on Day 2.

Snacks on Rocky Mountaineer Train

13. What is a good meet? Learn to talk like a train engineer

A good meet is when a train goes by in the opposite direction and you do not have to stop. Often when a freight train is passing a passenger train, the smaller train (passenger train) pulls to a side rail to allow the larger train to pass.

Our Train manager Wendy McMichael told us that our train was 17 pieces of equipment with 50 crew members and 273 guests onboard on Day 1. From Kamloops, our train split and we went to Banff with 11 pieces of equipment and 156 guests. The other guests went to Jasper.

Freight trains are generally 50 to 300 pieces of equipment and Rocky Mountaineer is typically 11 to 25.

14. What is unique about this trip to only Rocky Mountaineer?

Traveling on the historic Canadian rail line you can see where the final spike was placed on Nov 7, 1885 at Craigellichie. Rocky Mountaineer is the only passenger train that runs between Kamloops and Banff. If you want to see the engineer marvel of the Spiral tunnels, as well as the historic location of the final spike you will need to travel on the Rocky Mountaineer. This is also the section of the track were you are more likely to see bears.

Rocky Mountaineer began in 1990 and has traveled 8 million kilometers or 150 times around the globe. They have received 67 Awards, planted 8436 trees planted for Employees’ anniversaries and carried over two million guests through seven awe-inspiring mountain ranges. The top 5 wildlife sightings from the train are bear, elk, big horn sheep, bald eagle and osprey.

Are you ready to book your first Rocky Mountaineer Journey?

For rates and more information, click here.

Enjoy your bucket list train journey on Rocky Mountaineer

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

2 responses to “All the Things You Wanted to Ask About Rocky Mountaineer

    1. Hi Dennis!
      I flew into Vancouver and took the train to Banff. I skied in Banff and Lake Louise and then drove to Calgary and flew out.
      You can also stay on the train to Jasper or take it from Jasper back to Vancouver!
      Hope that helps!
      Happy Travels!

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