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Canada: Coast to coast by train – Part 6 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Places to Visit

Jasper to Prince Rupert: continued

Trains on this less popular route still run three times a week in each direction and take about 33 hours. The overnight stop in the logging town of Prince George comes with a hotel stay. It’s the most interesting way to reach the port of Prince Rupert, where ferries and cruises can be found to explore the Inside Passage, one of the most spectacular stretches of water in the world. There are also boats going north to Alaska.

A good tip for any of these journeys is a ‘through the window’ guide. These books explain what you are looking at as you travel along the rails. The abundance of wildlife also means that a pair of binoculars is also to be recommended.

Jasper to Vancouver

The final part and for many people the best of the journey. If you only have time to do a small part of this trip then this is the one to go on. It has the most dramatic landscapes on the mighty Canadian train route

After passing Yellowhead Lake, Mount Robson (3, 954m), the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, looms into view, just across the border with British Columbia. It is so large that it even has its own microclimate. From here, a succession of majestic sights follow: Pyramid Creek Falls; the North Thompson, Thunder and Blue river crossings; Kamloops Lake; Rainbow Canyon and its multi-coloured rock faces; and one of the most spectacular stretches of the whole journey, through Fraser Canyon and past Hell’s Gate, a name derived from the journal of explorer Simon Fraser, who described it as a place ‘where no human should venture, for surely these are the gates of Hell’.

The train cautiously picks its way along a shelf suspended above the V-shaped gorge, with a cable car above and a fish ladder below to help spawning salmon battle upstream. As the gorge widens at Yale, look for a black rock in the middle of the river that was named after 19th-century traveller Lady Franklin. She visited the area in 1861, 14 years after the death of her explorer husband, who was lost while looking for the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic. The hills shrink and end as rugged country gives way to forest and then market gardens, thriving on the silt washed down by the Fraser River. Many of the ingredients in the ‘100 mile’ menus of Vancouver’s fine restaurants come from here. Journey’s end is close when the Canadian clatters across New Westminster Bridge, built in 1904 with an opening span for Fraser River shipping. A suitably grand station building, the Pacific Central of 1919, receives passengers arriving in BC’s largest city, Vancouver which is known for repeatedly winning global ‘Best City’ awards.

Westbound trains leave Jasper after lunch, taking about 19 hours; eastbound trains depart late afternoon, having left Vancouver at 8. 30pm the previous night.

You are now in Vancouver and if you have never been here before then try to allow at least three days to explore.

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