Vancouver to Whistler

By: Barry Sheppard

Day return with scenery

A fantastic way to explore Canada is by train. Stunning scenery and destined to become one of the well known world travel journeys. I won't even mention the old volcano, the amazing waterfall, snow capped peaks, an ocean inlet and of course forests covering mountain peaks

The Rocky Mountaineer Group has launched a new service called the 'Whistler Mountaineer'. This round trip journey can be undertaken in a day. It takes six hours and covers 140 miles. A day , you will never forget.

The train travels, north from Vancouver, along an underused freight line. It travels along the coastline of British Columbia until it arrives in Whistler, the world famous ski resort. Whistler is an all year round resort which offers skiing and other outdoor activities. If you choose a different itinerary then you can choose to extend your stay in Whistler.

North American trains are big. You can choose from two types of carriage on the Whistler Mountaineer, the Coast Classic and the Glacier Dome. The Glacier Dome is the more luxurious.

This journey leaves from the North Vancouver dockside at 8.30 am. The port is very busy but you are warmly welcomed by staff in uniform. Very quickly North Vancouver is left behind and you view the backyards of homes in the prosperous West Vancouver.

As you enjoy your breakfast you will notice how relaxed people are as they go about their daily tasks.

The train leaves West Vancouver through a tunnel at Horseshoe Bay and then you can begin to enjoy the scenery. The train travels high alongside the Pacific Ocean. There is an onboard commentary which tells about the history of the coastline and of the train company. The train driver is very accommodating and slows down at points that are worth taking photographs of.

For a different experience, travel for part of the journey in the Henry Pickering. This is an open-sided observation car that was commissioned in 1914. Looking to the west it allows you to view the southernmost fjord in Canada, Howe Sound. By looking out towards the East you will see that the rock face has disappeared and you are now looking at waterfalls that are being fed by glaciers and valleys that are inaccessible. Travelling in the open carriage also gives you the opportunity to take in all the fragrances of the surrounding forest.

When the train reaches the old logging town, Squamish, it begins to head inland and starts the climb up into the coastal mountain range. Slowly it travels along the edge of the Cheakamus Canyon. You can see the most spectacular waterfall as it cascades down the high rocks surrounding it. In the distance you can see the 3000 metre peaks of Mount Garibaldi. At this point the train travels across a single-track trestle bridge, If you are brave enough to look down you will see the water raging beneath as it traverses the jagged rocks.

Once out of the canyon the scenery opens up again. The train crosses Brandywine Falls and into the Canada you see on postcards. You will see lakes and forests nestling beneath the snow capped mountain peaks. If you are not extending your stay, then you only have a stopover of one and a half hours. This gives you enough time to enjoy lunch at one of the outside cafes. Once you have taken your fill of fresh air and good food it is time to board the train for your return journey.

As the train heads back for Vancouver and we leave the mountains behind a whole new view is opened up. It is seen through a totally different perspective.

On returning to Vancouver you will want to continue exploring Canada by train as it is one of the most breathtaking experiences you will have.

To find out more about this journey contact.www.whistlermountaineer.com

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