Jasper to Vancouver by Train

With the continuous delays in the arrival of my train in Jasper, I was growing more and more disappointed that I would miss out on the best part of the train trip to Vancouver.  So by the time, the VIA Rail train left the Jasper Station after 1 a.m., there was very little to see of the Rocky Mountains but I must admit that passing through the mountains under a clear sky and a full moon had a certain mystique to it as I gazed out from my private cabin.

Luckily, all was not lost and the train's delay provided the opportunity to view the scenery that would normally be missed over the course of the train's journey through the night...



















While the Rockies may be the star attraction of The Canadian's journey across Canada, the landscape west of them is interestingly diverse and spectacular. Hope you enjoyed my brief diary of my Easter weekend train trip!

Jasper Wildlife


A Jasper Sunset

Sunsets are always beautiful, especially in the mountains, and the one I experienced in Jasper was no different.







Maligne Canyon

My stayover in Jasper was scheduled to be less than 24 hours. Not much time to spend exploring Jasper National Park in any great detail. So instead of renting a car, I ventured out on a guided tour of Maligne Canyon. A quick google search revealed that while the canyon could be explored on your own, many reviewers commented on the fact that it is better to go with an experienced guide, primarily for safety reasons.

After meeting up at the tour company's office, we were whisked away in a company van from downtown Jasper and made our way along the Parks Canada trail atop Maligne Canyon. From this perspective, you get to look down into the canyon while enjoying the view of the mountains in the distance. Nice but definitely not worth the price of the tour. Luckily, it did not end there. We slipped under a peeled back chain-linked fence and made our way into the canyon to explore this geological masterpiece from a level that would be underwater in just a few short weeks.

Not only did we get to see some unique ice formations,


touch frozen waterfalls,


walk behind frozen waterfalls,


but our tour guide snuck us into a "secret" cave that the other our groups in the canyon overlooked that morning...


We then continued our way up the canyon to explore the amazing rock formations


It's no wonder why some people get married in this natural cathedral...


Unfortunately, we reached a waterfall that blocked us ice walk rookies from going any further 


so we headed on back to civilization.


So we're the reviewers right?

The Maligne Canyon is definitely worth visiting during the winter months but is it dangerous to explore it on your own? From what I witnessed during my visit, it's not dangerous as long as you use common sense. That being said, common sense doesn't appear to be that common so you'll have to use your own judgement as to how you would like to spend your hard-earned money. In my case, I chose to spend my money on the tour instead of renting a car, just because the cost was about the same and the tour included the ride to and from the canyon. If I have the opportunity to do it again, I'd try to head down to the canyon around the arrival time of one of the tour groups and explore the canyon at my own pace with the assurance that trained professional guides are nearby. But then again, that's only me and what I saw that day. For what it's worth, I felt that last spring's Athabasca Glacier Icewalk provided bigger bang for my buck. Nevertheless, the Maligne Canyon Walk was an interesting albeit short experience. I guess I'll have to leave the more advance ice climbing adventure for another time.

Jasper

Unlike its larger cousin down south, Jasper is a lot more laid back. Sure, Banff has its fancy stores, hotels, and restaurants but Jasper provides pretty much everything you need for your vacation away from the city. After all, did you travel all this way to go shopping or to explore the outdoors? Jasper is small enough that you don't get lost in traffic but big enough to fill your tummy, gas tank, and cheesy tourist shirt needs.

Right by the train station, you'll find a handsome totem pole that replaced a controversial one a few years ago.


Yes, the town's setting is spectacular



and you can enjoy a whole afternoon just basking in the early spring sun


but it's time to stretch those legs and go beyond downtown into the hills to experience the Rockies in all their glory



Vancouver to Jasper by Train

Words can not describe the scenery of the train journey from Vancouver to Jasper, and my photos can't compare to the real thing but here are a few photos from the Park Car of VIA Rail's The Canadian Train to whet your appetite.

The train cutting through a recent forest fire ravaged area in the early morning.
The first sign of snow
 


The Exclusive Panoramic Park Car on VIA Rail

When travelling in the Sleeper Plus Class of VIA Rail's The Canadian, not only do you have access to the Economy Class' panoramic Skyline Car but you also have exclusive accessibility to the Park Car.

Ooh, that sounds impressive! And yes, it does. Since you have access to the two panoramic observation decks available on the train, the probability of you having a chance to sit down and enjoy the 360-degree views of your surroundings on your way across Canada increases dramatically. This is a big deal, especially in the Rockies, where it seems as though almost everyone wants to grab a seat in the scenic dome section. The seats are on a first-come, first-served basis so depending on the ambitions of your fellow travelers, you may be out of luck if your timing isn't right.  Luckily, most people come and go, especially during meal times, when there is a steady rotation of seats as people head to the Dinner Car.

To provide you a better idea of what to expect, here are a couple of photos of the observation deck of the Park Car...



and its older, non-renovated sibling that I rode on the way back...


Interestingly enough, the differences between the two Park Cars appeared to be simply cosmetic with reupholstered seats and walls, and newer finishes as opposed to one car being newer than the other from what I could gather. Based on the date stamps on the corners of the windows, both cars seemed to have windows from the same era so if you could care less about looks, they're practically the same.

Now heading downstairs, you have access to two lounges serviced by the bar.

Other than taking the photographs below, I spent no time in the Mural Lounge since it was an enclosed area with no large, exterior windows to view the great outdoors but I suppose this would be a decent place to chill and play cards or chat once darkness hits.



I never saw the television actually playing anything other than a blue screen or TV noise during the trip so I can't comment any further on its functionality but don't forget to head down to the bar upon your departure from Vancouver for a glass of champagne!


A better place to mingle would be to hang out in the Bullet Lounge where you have slightly better views despite the fact that the seats are angled towards the centre of the room.


This is also the place to grab some coffee, tea, water, juice, fruit, and the occasionally served cookie, biscuit, or muffin in between meals. Just remember, if seating is full in the upstairs dome, you can always try your luck closer to the front of the train at the Skyline Car.

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