As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” That statement certainly rings true when it comes to one of the best ways there is to see all that Canada has to offer: train travel. Not only do these rail journeys allow you to sit back and relax as the country’s jaw-dropping landscapes unfold before you, but they also provide a chance to experience vibrant cultures, tour bustling cities and see landmarks along the way.
Plus, train travel is comfortable, more environmentally friendly and a wonderful way to create lasting connections with fellow travellers from around the globe. Here are a handful of the most remarkable train trips in Canada.
Discover the North
This two-day, two-night train trip, offered by VIA Rail, starts in Winnipeg, Manitoba and takes guests on an extraordinary 1,000-mile journey through Canada’s northern landscapes before reaching its last stop: Churchill. Accessible only by train or plane, Churchill, in Manitoba’s North, provides a rare chance to see polar bears and beluga whales in the wild, watch as the Northern Lights dance across the night sky and experience the cultures and traditions of the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
Ride the Gold Rush rails
Built in 1898 at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, guests on the White Pass and Yukon Route can marvel at the route’s breathtaking sceneries — from waterfalls and glaciers to tunnels and mountains — from the comfort of vintage train cars. One of the highlights of the trip is an incredible 3,000-foot ascent in a mere 20-minutes to the summit of White Pass, a mountain pass that sits on the Alaska-BC boundary.
Trips depart from the Alaskan port of Skagway and stop in Fraser, British Columbia and Carcross, Yukon, before reaching Yukon’s capital city, Whitehorse. This route only runs during the summer months.
Experience fall foliage at its finest
If you’re wanting to see fall in all its glory, look no further than the Agawa Canyon Train Tour Train. The one-day excursion sets off in Sault Ste. Marie in northeastern Ontario and takes travellers on a 228-mile journey along pristine lakeshores, through granite rock formations and next to forests awash in brilliant hues of ochre, crimson and gold. Although the canyon is open year-round, late September through early October is the best time to go.
Take in the beauty of Western Canada
Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West runs from Banff, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia via Kamloops. During the two-day journey, travellers are taken alongside mountain passes, through dramatic canyons and beside spectacular lakes, while they take in the panoramic views in the train’s glass-domed observation cars. Another popular route, Rainforest to Gold Rush, takes guests from Vancouver to the world-class ski town of Whistler, through the city of Quesnel and finally, to the quaint town of Jasper, Alberta.
See Canada from coast to coast
If you’re wanting to see the true diversity of Canada’s landscape, VIA Rail’s legendary The Canadian has it all. A once-in-a-lifetime cross-country journey, the trip kicks off in Toronto and traverses more than 2,700-miles over four days through the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
The Canadian showcases the country’s vast landscapes, including forests, lakes, mountains and prairie fields. Guests also have the choice to break up their trip with stopovers along the way, allowing them to discover vibrant cities and towns along the way and meet the remarkable people who inhabit them.