8 Solid Reasons to Ride the Rocky Mountaineeer

All Aboad the Rocky Mountaineer
All Aboad the Rocky Mountaineer

I don’t require many reasons to go for a ride on a train. However, I think that these are some very good reasons to hop onto the Rocky Mountaineer, sit back and enjoy some of the finest scenic views, while being treated royally by the staff.

1- This privately owned luxury train has thrilled over two million guests since 1990. Travellers pass the Western Canada Rocky mountains which contain some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

2- First Passage to the West stops in Banff, Canada’s wonderful town right in the heart of the towering monarchs that make up the Canadian Rockies. It then quietly slips over the pass and down through the world legendary Spiral Tunnels, a fantastic spiral that will see the train follow a figure eight partially inside the mountains as the tracks fight for

View from Coach
View from Coach

elevation, while at the same time avoiding a steep grade. Because of the history of the CPR effort to build the first track, I found this a great chance to be right where the action had taken place. From there on it’s just mile after mile of great mountain views, dashing rivers, and avalanche sheds.

3- The Journey Through the Clouds route can see you in Jasper, hub town of Jasper National Park. As you travel west you climb up along eye catching blue lakes, little whistle stops, and past enormous Mt. Robson, which is the highest peak around that part of the Rockies. We pass by the ramparts and waterfalls of Wells Grey Provincial Park eventually follow the edge of the Fraser River. As you approach Hells Gate you get ready for a spectacle. The canyon walls come closer together squeezing the river into a turbulent torrent. Original explorer, Simon Fraser, wrote of the difficulty his crew had in finding a portage, and following it around the impassable section of river. You can imagine how

Always Magnificent
Always Magnificent

hard this would have been when you view the amount of blasting required to create the railway. In fact about 100 years after Simon Fraser’s passage, a railway company blasted the side of the canyon into the water virtually blocking it to the passage of the Pacific Salmon. It took the building of fish ladders to allow the salmon to bypass the worst of the rubble, yet generations of salmon were doomed to never be born.

4- The Rainforest to Gold Rush tour goes north from Vancouver with absolutely great views of the Pacific Ocean as you pass along the backyards of some really nice homes. This is a little different bit of mountain scenery, with ocean on one side and the mountains soaring upward on the other. Soon it reaches the ski centre, Whistler, known the world over for great snow and long runs. It climbs over the coastal range and descends  to reach

A Great Ride
A Great Ride

Quesnel. Then it circles in a big loop around forested mountains before heading to Jasper, in Jasper National Park, passing by Mount Robson.

5- Rocky Mountaineer provides packages of tours, some taking several days so you can travel slowly, and see places like Banff, at your leisure.

6- You can combine a rail tour with a fantastic luxury cruise to Alaska. If you are looking for an escape from the office, you can book into one of their more extensive trips, approximately two weeks, that will take you from the heart of the Canadian Rockies, to Seattle by rail, and north to Alaska by ship.

7- There are three levels of service, but I highly recommend the GoldLeaf Service which

Friendly Staff
Friendly Staff

puts you on top of the world in the Dome car, with unsurpassed views of the passing scenery. Later, you will slip down the stairs to the lower level, where you will sit down to beautifully prepared meals and dine in luxury!

8- The company can help you with arrangements for rental cars, extra hotel nights, and flight arrangements from your home town.

Chugging Along the Smokies

One of the nice things about RVing is the opportunity to take an extra day here and there and enjoy other recreational facilities. With that in mind, you might like to try a train ride

Great Scenery

along the edge of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Depending upon your choice of tour you might find yourself on a 4 ½ hour trip through the Nantahala River Gorge, or winding along the Tuckasegee River, or possibly thundering across the 238 metre Fontana Trestle.

Tours run from both the town of Dillsboro and from the Bryson City depot. The company not only has scheduled tours throughout the year, but also runs extra trains for special events such as Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, New Years Eve, and many, many other eventful days.

Riding the Train

You might like to try the Gourmet Dinner Train and treat yourself to a four course meal, cocktails or wine and great service. Of course you could try a three course meal and enjoy their Mystery Theatre performances on the Mystery Theatre Dinner Train.

The staff of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is there to give you the best trip possible. You will find them all extremely friendly, and very helpful. If you have questions about the train, or the tracks, or the scenery, just ask.

Waterfalls add to the fun

The depot at Bryson City portrays the atmosphere of a busy old time station with all the hustle of people getting ready for a great journey by train. The live music performed outside added a sense of warm enjoyment for the passengers. When we were there it was fall and the station was decked out in pumpkins, corn stalks and other vegetables as well as some very beautiful pots of flowers.

For all the adult children boarding the train there is a special treat at Bryson City. Just across the corner is the Smoky Mountain Trains, a store dedicated to model railroading. Not only is it a fully stocked model train store, but it has museum in the back with a huge operating layout that’ll be sure to get your creative thoughts jumping.

If you are planning on leaving from the Bryson City depot you might like to visit the Cherokee KOA. This is a family oriented campground buried in the trees at the foot of the mountain. It has loads of activities and they have a shuttle to the train station. This is handy because parking at Bryson City Depot is scarce.At the Station

Take time to relax. Take a train ride, whenever you can.

Did I forget to mention the beauty and the mystery you see when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains. Misty, and blue they never fail to amaze me.

Happy RVing

For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels.  Visit his website at:  www.stonessRvTravel.com

Riding the Rails to Perkinsville


Train buffs, as well as visitors just looking for a good time, will enjoy a trip on the Verde Canyon Train. Located in the hills of Arizona, south of the Grand Canyon, the train takes a leisurely 32 kilometre trip from Clarksdale to Perkinsville and back.

Verde Canyon Train

Clarkdale arose in 1911as the smelter town for the United Verde Copper Company that got its ore from the mines at nearby Jerome on the slopes of Mingus Mountain. To take the ore to markets investors built a railway from Clarkdale through the narrow canyon of the Verde River. As usually happens, the mine eventually closed, and also the smelter. Clarkdale began to die.

Now Clarkdale is kept alive by the Verde Canyon Train. The scenic train trip draws visitors from all over the world. And it’s no wonder. Although it’s a short trip, only a 64 kilometre round trip it’s packed with beauty. Once you leave the scars of the slag piles at the edge of town, it’s a pleasant rural ride. The greenish Verde River flows across the open valley floor to rush into the narrow confines of the canyon. Depending upon the angle of the sun, the walls of the canyon blaze in reds, pinks and golds. Along the river the green cottonwoods and other shrubs are resplendent with their backdrop of colourful cliffs.

Depp in Verde Canyon

The canyon is a well established area for seeing wildlife, especially birds. In the arid country around the canyon, wetlands are enjoyed by birds and animals alike. The winter months of December to March are prime bald and golden eagle months. The train crew is quick to point out the locations of these big birds roosting in the trees or higher up on the cliff sides.

Verde Canyon's Sun Tipped Cliffs

The railroad was built with great difficulty, requiring a 207 metre tunnel to cut into the cliff where the river allowed no room for the track. Many side streams required culverts or short trestles. It’s the proximity to the river that really adds to the enjoyment of the trip. Dashing in places, and tranquil in others, the river is the source of water for the plants that grow along it, and for the many birds that flock to the brush and trees for hiding places and for their nests. Deer and antelope come down from the hills for a drink. They are not much frightened by the train and are often seen by the passengers.

It’s probably best if you sit on the right side of the train as you leave the station. This will give you views across the river to the cliffs beyond, and some very spectacular views of the Sedona red rocks to the east. It’s also easier to spot the bald eagles.

The engines switch ends of the train at the old community of Perkinsville. If you take a

A Visit to Perkinsville

jeep you can visit Perkinsville by taking a rough road out of Jerome. The train is the best way to see the inner part of the Verde Canyon.

There are several different types of train trips and you might enjoy the Grape Train Escape on an evening trip into the canyon.

It is unfortunate that this tour never uses steam locomotives. It’s a perfect location for the wail of the steam engine, and the chuff chuff of a hard working locomotive as it climbs along the river. Apart from that, this is a great trip, as attested to by the thousands of passengers a year that enjoy a relaxing 4 hours doing nothing but looking and savouring nature in the wild.

A Great Western Music Show at the Blazin'M

After a terrific day why not stop at Cottonwood and visit the Blazin’n M Chuckwagon Ranch for a scrumptious supper followed by the best live Western music in town.

Happy RVing !

This is one of the tours in ‘Cactus and Canyons’ a Touring North America guide book)

For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels.  Visit his website at:  www.stonesstravelguides.com