By Chuck “The Traveling Guy” Miller
In addition to truly spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies, Western Canada has an abundance of excellent golf courses. One way to enjoy the scenery and some great golf courses is to take a Rocky Mountaineer Railroad train and motorcoach sightseeing tour.
Since its founding in 1990, more than two million passengers on Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer Railroad have enjoyed gorgeous scenery while traveling past snow- capped mountains, wide and deep glaciers, rushing rivers, crashing waterfalls and shimmering aquamarine lakes.
By combining one of Rocky Mountaineer’s “First Passage to the West” train journeys with their excellent motorcoach tours, you will be able to visit a number of the Province of Alberta’s highly interesting and beautiful cities including Banff, Calgary, Lake Louise, and Jasper, as well Kamloops and Vancouver in British Columbia. And…you will have the opportunity to arrange golf in Banff, Jasper, Kamloops and possibly on one or more of the sixty courses in and around Calgary including Calgary’s Shaganappi Point Golf Course overlooking the Bow Valley, the Bow River and the Calgary skyline.
When visiting the colorful alpine city of Banff, arrange to play one or both of the Banff Springs Hotel’s two meticulously groomed courses, the 9-hole Tunnel Mountain course and the 18-hole Stanley Thompson championship course. Both are located just a few miles down the hill from the historic and magnificent hotel which opened in 1888.
On your trip, opt to spend a day or two in Jasper so you can play Canada’s #3 ranked golf course at Canada’s #1 golf resort, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge located just minutes from downtown Jasper.
When you combine a two or three-day Rocky Mountaineer train journey with their comfortable and educational motorcoach bus tours, you will not only see beautiful scenery but most likely a variety of Canadian wildlife. On our recent Rocky Mountaineer trip, my wife and I observed a mama black bear teaching her cubs how to forage for food, a small herd of mountain goats, two big horn sheep, a baby elk, a bald eagle, dozens and dozens of geese, and numerous deer.
Today’s Rocky Mountaineer passengers ride in spacious glass domed train coaches and are hosted by energetic and attentive hosts. Hosts on our recent trip were Bernadette from Ireland, Stephanie from Germany, Ivan from Mexico and Kadja from the Czech Republic. Not only did they offer informative commentary about the area and scenic things we were about to see, but they also served snacks and unlimited complimentary mixed drinks, wine, beer, water and sodas. Their counterparts on the Mountaineer’s culinary team amazed us with freshly prepared, mouth-watering breakfasts, lunches and delicious chocolate chip cookies.
Whether you start your tour in Vancouver or Calgary, when you are in Calgary, stay at, or at least visit, the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, a true Calgary landmark. The Palliser, located in downtown Calgary, is just two blocks from Stephens Ave, Calgary’s colorful main pedestrian street which has upscale shopping malls, boutique stores, and numerous outdoor restaurants and bars. And…The Palliser is a mere wedge shot from Calgary’s famed 630-foot Sky Tower where you can overlook the skyline while dining at SKY 360, the tower’s revolving restaurant located 511 feet above street level.
When in Calgary, an excellent way to spend the day for adults and families alike, is to visit Heritage Park, a mere twenty minutes from downtown. There you will get a real sense of what Calgary was like during its founding in the 1860’s. You can ride on a thundering steam train; roam the antique midway; enjoy over 180 exhibits, many of which are manned by volunteers in period dress; grab a meal at the Selkirk Restaurant or enjoy an ice cream cone at the Vulcan Ice Cream Parlour. You can set sail on the Moyie, Calgary’s only paddlewheel boat, visit a typical one-room school house, and spend time at the Gasoline Alley Museum admiring one of the largest collections of antique vehicles and oil and gas pumps in the world. History buffs and pleasure seekers alike enjoy a trip back in history when visiting 127-acre Heritage Park.
Whether you take the Rocky Mountaineer’s nine-day trip from Calgary to Vancouver or Vancouver to Calgary, in addition to two wonderful days on the train from Vancouver to Jasper, you will be able to relax in large comfortable seats on the motorcoach bus tours while your driver-guide comments on upcoming historic and scenic stops.
If your plans include a stay at Banff’s majestic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel while on a Rocky Mountaineer tour, you will enjoy a cruise on Lake Minnewanka; an up close view of the roaring Bow River Falls waterfall; and a ride on the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulfur Mountain where you will have an incredible view of the Bow River and the Banff Springs golf courses in the valley below.
Whether you stay at or just visit the Fairmont Banff Springs’ historic and elegant 754–room hotel, take time to enjoy a beverage on the outdoor terrace and then go inside for an outstanding dinner in either the hotel’s 1888 Chop House restaurant or the Vermillion Room restaurant.
When in downtown Banff, which combines the stunning beauty of the Canadian Rockies with the comforts of a small town, stroll down Banff Avenue. The colorful main street is home numerous outdoor restaurants and boutique stores. For a tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner, locals and tourists alike enjoy the freshly prepared meals at the eclectic Coyotes Southwestern Grill on Caribou Street.
On the short thirty five mile ride from Banff to Chateau Lake Louise, you will see numerous glaciers; view glacier fed Lake Peyto; make a stop at Emerald Lake for a view of its aquamarine water; and will learn how the Upper and Lower Spiral Tunnels were built when you make a stop at a scenic overlook. Both tunnels are recognized as monumental achievements in Canadian railroad history.
While staying overnight at the Chateau Lake Louise, before additional sightseeing while busing to Jasper, you’ll be mesmerized by the view of canoers paddling gracefully on the tranquil aquamarine waters of world famous Lake Louise. The view from your room or the Lakeview Restaurant is magical, much like an Ansel Adams photograph.
Shortly after your stay at Lake Louise, while on your motorcoach journey to Jasper, you will cross the Continental Divide where rivers form and begin flowing in different directions to the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Two amazing highlights on your trip to Jasper. The first will be the opportunity to ride a large Ice Explorer bus onto the Athabasca Glacier so you can walk on the glacier. The second is the opportunity to walk on the Columbia Icefield’s Glacier Skywalk, a semicircular glass walkway 800 feet above the valley below.
If your plans include a stay at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, for an excellent meal, treat yourself to dinner in the lodge’s Orso Trattoria Restaurant or its casual Great Hall Gastropub. Following dinner, when the sun sinks and the sky is dark, sit outside and view the star filled night sky. In 2011, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada designated Jasper as a dark sky preserve which means there is minimal artificial light to interfere with the beauty of the night sky. Jasper ranks as the second largest dark sky preserve in the world.
Whether your Rocky Mountaineer Railroad trip takes you from Vancouver to Jasper or Jasper to Vancouver, you will stop for the night in the high desert city of Kamloops where wineries, distilleries, cideries and breweries make their home. Kamloops is situated on the Thompson River and is just west of eighteen mile long Thompson Lake. Kamloops boasts over 2,000 hours of sunshine each year ranking it as one of British Columbia’s sunniest destinations. Because of this, the city hosts more than 100 tournaments at its world class sports facilities and is known as the Tournament Capital of Canada.
Kamloops is the site of one of Canada’s top public courses. Since its opening in 2008, when it was designated “Best New Golf Course”, the Tobiano Golf Course has had the reputation of a top course to play. In 2020 and 2021 it was ranked as “One of Canada’s Best Golf Courses”.
Spectacular golf and scenery will definitely have you enjoying your vacation when you visit and take in the amazing Canadian Rockies while on a Rocky Mountaineer Railroad train and motorcoach tour.
You can arrange a complete Rocky Mountaineer package that includes the rail trip, the outstanding motorcoach tours, and first-class accommodations at the magnificent Fairmont Hotels in Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. Or, should you prefer, you can develop your own Rocky Mountaineer Railroad itinerary through your travel agent.
For information about the Rocky Mountaineer Railroad and the tours it offers, visit www.rockymountainholidays.com. For information about the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and its Tunnel Mountain and Stanley Thompson golf courses, visit www.banff-springs-hotel.com. For information about the Fairmont Jasper Hotel and it’s #3 ranked golf course, visit www.FairmontJasperParkLodge.com. For information about Kamloop’s Tobiano Golf Course, visit www.tobianogolf.com, and for information about golf courses in and around Calgary, visit www.calgarygolf.com