When JJ became a Candian citizen she also got a voucher for a discounted train ticket. We have been thinking of trying out taking the train before, so this was the perfect opportunity, since it couldn't get much cheaper.
Our plan was to start in Vancouver, go east to Jasper in Alberta and then continue West again to Prince Gorge and Prince Rupert as the final destination. We would fly back from there since our vacation time is limited, otherwise taking the ferry would've been a great alternative.
Vancouver to Jasper
This will be the shortest chapter of the post. Getting on the train was easy, but what lay ahead of us was scheduled to be a 17 hour train ride (ended up being 19). Because VIA Rail doesn't own the tracks and passenger trains have lower priority than freight trains you almost always end up being delayed. Almost a full day of sitting in the train and because we cheaped out and just got regular seats we had to try to sleep on them (hint: it's not great).
On a good note though: we had some nice sights along the way like this waterfall
Our mood increased significantly once we had our breakfast the next morning
Overall though it's probably not something I would do again. Driving is much faster and doesn't cost more.
Once we arrived in Jasper we rented a car (note top self: next time book ahead of time and don't count on luck to get a good deal). We arrived around noon and had two nights until our train left again. I wish we had more, but we had to make the best out of what we had.
Our first drive took us south along Icefields Parkway.
then we continued further to the famous Athabasca Falls. A giant waterfall and some beautiful rock formations. It's a must visit.
We would've loved to drive even further south, but that would've taken a lot more time. Instead we decided to drive north of Jasper next to the famous Maligne Lake that can often be seen in pictures.
First up along the way is the spectacular Medicine Lake
Forest fires in the previous years decimated a lot of the trees there sadly, but the lake is spectacular.
Then up next the Maligne Lake and it was a special sight. Since it was still Spring the lake was halfway frozen.
We finished the day off with a visit to the Miette Hotsprings to relax in the hot pools and also saw some wild sheeps along the highway.
This won't be the last time we'll go here.
Jasper to Prince Rupert
So it's back in the train again.
This time though the sights were a lot better. We had bridge crossings and great mountain ranges. Now it starting feeling a lot more like an adventure. I think it also helped that we stopped overnight in Prince Gorge, so a bit more relaxing.
Prince Gorge was really not that nice I have to say and we were happy to be on our way again. Although the idian food we got there was quite good. I think one issues was that it was a long weekend so everyone except some shady people were out of town.
Our final destination! We had another 2 nights here which gave us some time to explore.
Our first plan was to take a boat to Digby Island and do a hike there. Taking the ferry worked great and was cheap.
but once we got there we learned that the trail was closed to the public and going the without bear spray is very dangerous. Ok, so now we were stuck on a small island and the next ferry back is in the late afternoon. We though we wasted a whole day, but luckily we ran into a local who was just about to go back to Prince Rupert with her partner on their private boat. So we joined them onn the ride back and even saw some bear on the shore!
Back in town we first stopped at the museum which had a lot of first nation art but also a few more modern pieces.
What I really like about Prince Rupert is the amount of murals you can see just waling down the street
Another highly recommended activity in Prince Rupert is visiting the old fishery facilities. Sadly the whole area was massivly overfished, so the production mustly shut down. But it was interesting to leran more about the history of the place and the challenges the locals had to endure. Once intersting fac was that people from all over the world came to work there as well as first nation people. There were housings for Europeans as well as Japanese.
The highlight at the end of our trip was visting the Bear Sancturary. It's 1 1/2 hours north with a fast boat and we were able to observe bears in their natural habitat.