While onboard for our third day, traversing the majestic Rockies stirs my appetite. It’s time for breakfast; I order a Sir Sandford Fleming Benedict—eggs Benedict with a tarragon hollandaise and smoked meat—and a mimosa en route to breathtaking Banff. Wraparound dome windows make all seats in our coach the best in the house and treat us to panoramic views. Passengers gasp every time Rocky Mountaineer slows or pauses—not just through the Spiral Tunnels and over Rogers Pass, but to behold Kicking Horse Canyon, or a young brown bear or grazing elk herd. I stand in the open vestibule behind our car for a breath of fresh mountain air; the scent of sage gives way to the subalpine fir-dominated forests.
Rocky Mountaineer’s signature GoldLeaf Service spoils us throughout the rail journey. Meals are gourmet and accommodations are plush—think warm scones and wide reclining seats.
I step down the spiral staircase from our bi-level dome coach to the GoldLeaf Service dining room as we climb into the Rocky Mountains. Our lunch features Alberta ranchland pork tenderloin accompanied by a sweet onion demi-glace, a hint to the Canadian cowboy country that lies beyond the Rockies. Back under the dome, I enjoy a complimentary glass of BC Pinot Noir as the first snow-capped peaks come into view.
It would be difficult to disembark were I not stepping into Banff National Park. Canada’s first national park comprises towering waterfalls and glaciers, and North American apex predators like cougars, bears, wolverines and wolves. GoldLeaf Service guests overnight in a series of luxurious Fairmont Hotels in breathtaking locales, like Banff and Lake Louise, and choose from several exclusive excursions, including a helicopter trip in Banff for a rare 12-minute survey of the Rockies.
Gazing at spectacular glaciers or watching a mountain goat scamper against an improbable slope, I might forget the previous days passing through desert landscapes. But Rocky Mountaineer leaves a very large imprint, making it a truly memorable experience.