We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Rocky mountain train trip

Which British Columbia hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Leicester, United...
Level Contributor
56 posts
6 reviews
Save Topic
Rocky mountain train trip

Could anyone please advise whether red leaf service is sufficient or whether it is worth the extra for silver / gold on the rocky mountain train service. We are intending to do this and follow with cruise to Alaska for 25th wedding anniversary. Also what is the temperature / climate like in May / June time. Any other tips gratefully received. Thank you.

SE Ontario
Level Contributor
17,138 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

See this thread also currently running:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g154922-i80-k58288…

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
56,330 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

Hi Barbara ~

Weather data can be found in the link below. It's set for Vancouver but you can enter other locations in the search field.

www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3…

At the beginning of May sunrise/sunset will be 5h50 am / 8h30 pm, at the end of June 5h10 am - 9h20 pm. We have changeable weather here in Vancouver. You will come upon showers/rain to overcast skies to sunny and sometimes more than one weather condition in one day. Vancouver is at the 49th parallel of latitude, enough of Alaska is north of 60° so will be a fair bit colder.

Dress in layers, bring a waterproof jacket with hood and a pair of closed toed shoes.

Obviously you are doing a big trip, including Alaska and the Rockies. When you are ready, post your tentative itinerary on this forum with dates, arrival cities, mode of transportation, and your interests which will bring you the best feedback. Feel free to ask questions in order to get to that tentative itinerary.

In first position on this forum, against a push pin, you will find the BC Trip Report Collection. These reports may help you if you will be doing any driving across the province.

Find the book written by Frommer entitled "British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies."

Leicester, United...
Level Contributor
56 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

Thank you for your advice. As first time and novice in this area intention was to get a package holiday with the rocky mountain train trip included as a 2 day / 3 day element of the trip and the cruise tagged on at the end -several holiday firms offer this as a complete package. Do you know whether the red leaf service on the rocky mountain train is sufficient to see what you want to see and what the food differences are. I believe the gold service has a domed car, but some people have found this too hot when the sun is shining, but not quite sure what the main differences are between the gold or red service and the silver service.

Leicester, United...
Level Contributor
56 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

Thank you for the direct to this forum. Have you travelled on the Rocky mountain train yourself and do you have any specific comments on the different levels of service. our main objective I suppose is that you have a good view of the scenery, but believe some people find the domed cars (gold service) to be too hot when the sun is shining. Not sire whether it is worth extra step up from red to silver.

Kamloops, British...
Level Contributor
95 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

Food service on "Red Leaf" is breakfast and lunch served at your seat, airline style by a single service attendant.

"Silver Leaf" is a more heavily modified carriage, with windows cut in the roof and with a galley which heats packaged meals and includes bar service. Two car attendants.

"Gold Leaf" has upstairs dome seating with a dining room below serving meals cooked on board.

I guess it all depends what you want to experience. As a person empoyed in the hospitality industry, I get to meet Mountaineer passengers. Some are on the train to experience the scenery without having to drive, and also see views of the lakes and mountains not seen from the highway. Some are there to be pampered with the advertised 5 Star service.

All classes of service allow for some fresh air viewing either from the car end "vestibule" (entrance lobby) on Red Leaf or specially built open air balconies on Gold Leaf.

A printed trip guide is included, and the car attendants will sometimes point out upcoming scenic attractions if they are not busy serving food and drink.

The quality of the on board commentary seems to vary considerably, as does the delivery of food service, depending on which car attendant is working your car. The resolution of the labour dispute between the employer and the union representing the on board attendants has seen many of the more experienced service attendants return to work .

Edited: 14 October 2012, 17:12
Hull
Level Contributor
773 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

Hi Barbara,

This is a regular question; indeed a regular scenario where you seem to have accepted the 'received wisdom' that a package is the way to go. I can well understand your apprehension, going somewhere strange and not knowing where the 'best' places are, but I would urge you to focus on what you value the most highly and give considerable effort to planning a trip to deliver that. Planning is half the fun-no?

RM is a rail trip through some stunning scenery but it only gets you TO the Rockies- it isn't a trip through them as such. A major part of any trip would be to drive the Icefields Parkway which is a 200 m link between Jasper and Banff- many stunning viewpoints.

If you are going to take in Vancouver (nothing wrong in that) this means you need to get to the Rockies by crossing B Columbia and RM is a (quite expensive) way of doing it. You seem to have a generous budget but as an example, it would be unwise to cut out part of what you wish to see in order to take the Gold Leaf RM service. In the same vein, how highly do you rate the Alaska cruise?

Most advice here is to go independently rather than a tour with all the regimentation (eg where breakfast is included, the hotel might well allocate a 7am time slot for these guests; necessary if you have to be on the coach by 8 but a pain on a 'rest' day).

If you open the header thread on this forum as Mufti (~~) suggests and go to post#39, that is my Wow slide show of an alternative way of getting to Jasper to start the Rockies. It was part of my DIY trip and is a less luxurious option than the RM (and on a different route operated by Via Rail the state rail operator). The freedom of independent travel is not to be dismissed lightly and the costs are broadly similar.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
56,330 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

ATSF makes a very good point about self driving. (~~ back) It would definitely give you more freedom, and many visitors do that. However, many enjoy the train as well. It comes down to what you want to get out of your vacation and it's why I included paragraph 4 in post 2.

The only caveat is that in May and early June, it is late winter/early spring in the Rockies (and Alaska, not so on the coast) so you could expect some snow, and you would also need to be aware of possible snow on the highways at higher elevations. Weather is changeable here. We have about 5 mountain ranges between Vancouver and the Rockies, so elevation is a daily event when travelling across the province.

If you do stick to the RM, there are coach options for touring the Rockies from somewhere like Banff. However, the season in the Rockies doesn't really open fully until early June.

The Canadian Rockies Forum is the place to ask questions about your trip as well. This Forum and the CRF act as bookends for a trip to the Rockies, so lots of information and Trip Reports there too. You might also consider flying in or out of Calgary. Many UK visitors find Canadian Affair has a good deal on car rentals, apparently with no one way drop fee. Something to look into. Or even a car rental in and out of Banff, for touring up and back on the Icefields Parkway in the Rockies.

www.icefieldsparkway.ca

Canadian Rockies forum is here. Their Trip Reports are in the Top Questions, to the upper right of that forum: tripadvisor.ca/ShowForum-g659487-i11598-Cana…

ATSF has mentioned our TR Collection which is here: tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g154922-i80-k420282…

Leicester, United...
Level Contributor
56 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

Thank you very much for your help. We are not as concerned about the pampering service, we are there to experience the scenery as best we can so it sounds like the silver service may provide a better viewing experience than the red, but it is not worth the extra for the gold service. Thanks again.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
Level Contributor
18,178 posts
107 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

Regarding your question about climate, specifically here in the Rockies... Snow flurries are possible in the mountains at any time of the year, but the chances of snow accumulation on the roads in the mountains in May or June is pretty slim. It usually melts upon contact, since the road surface temperature is above freezing.

May is not winter in the mountains, I would call it early spring. Perhaps some of these seasonal markers can help you "place" the season compared to what you are used to... Here in the Rockies, in the valley bottoms where the townsites are (Banff and Jasper), the deciduous trees and shrubs leaf out in about the third week of May. People plant hardier plant seeds in their gardens as early as mid/late April, but for the more tender stuff that can't take a light frost, the timing for planting is usually sometime in the first week of June. Lilacs bloom in late May to mid-June (some years they start earlier, in May, some years they don't start until well into the first week of June).

As you go higher, it gets colder, so essentially going up is like heading backwards in time in the seasons. Because it is still very early spring up at higher elevations, with snow still to melt and not much spring growth yet, the animals tend to get concentrated at lower elevations in the spring, where the food is, which makes it a very good time of year for wildlife sightings.

Note that the high glacial lakes in Rockies are not usually ice-free until sometime in the first few days of June. However, when travelling to the area in May or June, temperatures could be as high as in the high 20s, or as low as a few degrees below freezing. There is always a wide variance of daily temperatures - even in full summer, when temps can get into the 30s, night-time lows of 5 to 10C are normal.

Leicester, United...
Level Contributor
56 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Rocky mountain train trip

Thank you for this. Certainly a lot to think about and I had started some research into putting together an itinerary that would fit us rather than us fitting into an itinerary. Initial thoughts are perhaps have the Alaskan cruise as the second part of the trip with the first week seeing as much of the Rocky mountains as possible. As this trip will probably never be repeated want to try and "get it right". The Rocky mountain train does have some appeal for me though as well.