Via Via: My train trip through the Rockies

With a bit of time on my hands I decided to fulfill a wish I had had for a long time – taking Via Rail through the Rockies.  I really had no idea what to expect from the journey other than amazing views and a trek that was scheduled to take 32 hours.

My trip started at 12:01 on a Tuesday and rolled along until Thursday afternoon. When I booked my trip, the one thing I heard from friends was to expect delays.  Via rail does not own the tracks and as such, they have to yield to any freight trains that need to get from A to B.  Everyone else seems to think of this as a negative, but for me, it meant “yay, more train time for Bryan”.

The views were amazing.  There is nothing quite like waking up to the sunrise in Jasper.

What I did not expect was that the food was also going to be spectacular.  As one of my fellow passengers stated, “I have eaten in fancy restaurants and not had such good food” I will note this person was a train aficionado.  He and his wife had travelled all across north America by train.  He was right though.  The eggs benny – delish.

The train found its way past Valemont, and Clearwater, and on to Kamloops.  Having driven this route many times, it was nice to actually be able to see the land I was passing over instead of having to focus on the road.

Kamloops is where things got a bit dicey… The tracks were impassible from Kamloops on.  The BC interior and coast had received a lot of rain.  I mean a LOT of rain – even by BC standards.  This made moving on impossible.  The train would go no further! The Via crews were pros and kept us up to date on the plan which consisted of a bonus hot breakfast and a bus ride to downtown Vancouver.  It’s not what we had all hopped for, but they made it work.

With only a few hours delayed, we made it to Vancouver and personally, I like to think I got a good story to tell: the time we had to abandon the train.  Maybe a bit of hyperbole there, but true nonetheless.

For those considering the trip, I highly recommend it.

*BONUS*

A few last takeaways to consider:

  1. If you are tall, plan to curl up. trains are designed for short people.
  2. If you are on a tight schedule, this is not the trip for you.
  3. If you want to see the Rockies in a way you never have, this is the best way to do it.
  4. You can split your trip up.  I suggest taking the train to Jasper, stay there for a few days and then continue on via the next train.
  5. Savour the trip.

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