On the Rocky Mountaineer Train, the journey is the destination

For a memorable travel experience, the journey is the destination. A transatlantic crossing on the QE2 is an example. A flight to the United Arab Emirates on an Etihad A380, sitting in an upscale first-class suite like The Residence, is another. Another memorable experience is seeing the great American West from the windows of the Rocky Mountaineer train.

A Canadian company has created the Rockies to the Red Rocks Railroad Experience. The train takes travelers through the Rockies and across the Continental Divide, showing off the beautiful scenery of the West. Pulled by a pair of 2,500 horsepower locomotives, the train climbs mountains, passes through tunnels and follows the Colorado River. It shows passengers a great view that they won’t see from their car. There is no driving, no traffic, no crowds, no pit stops for food or bathroom breaks. Everything is on board.

As the company puts it, guests “will enjoy two days of extraordinary scenery including vast canyons, inspiring deserts, natural archways and enchanting hoodoos.” Hoodoos are sandstone spiers or pillars, like the Three Sisters in Arches National Park.

Travelers can choose to begin their journey from the Rockies to the Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado and travel west towards Moab, Utah. Or they can board the train at Moab, a gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and head east. Moab is known for its hiking, rafting, 4 wheeling and other outdoor activities. The nearly 400-mile journey takes place entirely in daylight, so passengers can admire the view through the glass windows of the five-foot-tall train.

Along with mountains, forests, mesa, red rocks, and the mighty Colorado River, the train passes through orchards and farms where peaches, cherries, and grapes grow. Passengers saw elk, red-tailed hawks, gray herons, ducks, wild turkeys and bald eagles that “look like the one in the American quarter.” On the human side, the hikers do not seem to resist the urge to “moon” the train.

The trains have six passenger cars. Each car has a maximum of 52 passengers and is usually serviced by three hosts. One also serves as a guide detailing the area’s history, from polygamy in pre-statehood Utah to train robbers Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s final battle with the law in Parachute, CO. . house, the former Rocky Flats nuclear bomb-making area, and the studio where the Grateful Dead recorded “Coal Creek Canyon.”

The quality of light and Western settings give the area a cinematic quality. Passengers can focus on the view, as the Rocky Mountaineer doesn’t have Wi-Fi, internet access, or in-seat video. Cellular coverage in the Rockies is also hard to come by.

The season runs from April to October. A spokesperson said the travel season ends in October not because of the increasing cold and the chance of snow, but because of the loss of light.

The train is now resting and the tracks are covered in snow. But when April rolls around, weekly boardings will bring in hundreds of passengers from all over the world.

The Rocky Mountaineer has spacious passenger cars, while a higher class of service offers access to lounge cars with a bar, tables and chairs. The train has no sleeping compartments. Instead, the two-day, one-night trip includes an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, CO, known for its hot springs and the “world’s largest hot springs pool.”

Along the way, passengers can relax in their reclining seats and watch the scenery go by. The hosts push the bar carts down the aisle. A culinary specialist asks what gourmet breakfasts, lunches or dinners a passenger would like on his oversized tray table.

To make the route possible, tunnels were dug through the mountains. The 6.2-mile-long Moffett Tunnel, 9,200 feet above sea level, was built at the cost of 28 lives. More recently, at least one tunnel has been “lit by daylight”, destroyed to create a better view.

Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian company that has been in the passenger train business since 1990. In 1999, it set a record with a 41-car train, the longest passenger train in Canadian history. In 2017, the company served its two millionth guest. And after launching Mandarin-language departures on several Canadian routes, the company may be well prepared for the highly anticipated return of Chinese tourists in 2023.

Rocky Mountaineer operates three passenger services in Canada, Vancouver to Jasper via Kamloops, Vancouver to Banff/Lake Louise via Kamloops, and Vancouver to Jasper via Whitter and Quesnel, all through the spectacular Canadian Rockies. For those who have never been there, these Canadian national parks match their American counterparts in breathtaking beauty.

The company began planning and researching US service before the pandemic, working with Union Pacific, which owns the tracks. As a Rocky Mountaineer spokesperson noted, “The CEO of Union Pacific is passionate about passenger rail.

The company sort of launched Red Rocks in the Rockies in 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He successfully ran a short season starting in August this year. Most of the employees, hired for their customer service skills, are from the Denver area. Rocky Mountaineer ran a full season from April to October 2022 and expects an even more successful 2023.

Rocky Mountaineer says guests are usually couples, sometimes families with children, as well as connected groups. It could be four teachers traveling together, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, or “four girlfriends having fun”, a spokesperson said. She added that business and corporate groups, such as meetings and incentives, are also frequent customers, enjoying a drink, a friendly game of cards or just a post-COVID chat. “The tax accountants were crazy! she said.

The base Rockies to the Red Rocks package starts at $1456. Higher classes of service and travel extensions, such as a luxury motorcoach from Moab to Arches National Park and Dead Horse State Park, or to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, are also available.

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