There was lots to see today as this was the day we hit the Canadian Rockies. We began heading around Shuswap Lake to the Eagle River, and then went through Craigellachie, where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Rail line was driven, which linked Canada by rail from coast to coast.
We crossed the Columbia and Illecillewaet Rivers, and went in the 8 km/5 mile long Connaught Tunnel through Mount MacDonald before hitting the Stoney Creek Bridge which towers over the creek bed.
With the Canadian Rockies coming into view, additional bridges were crossed over Surprise Creek and Mountain Creek before leaving the Columbia River behind for the Kicking Horse River and traveling through Kicking Horse Canyon.
The next big architectural marvel was the Spiral Tunnels, modeled after a tunnel system in Switzerland. The Lower and Upper Spiral Tunnels allowed the grade to be reduced from 4.5 per cent to a much safer 2.2 per cent, with the railway doubling back on itself twice in the process of gaining altitude.
After passing the Continental Divide and highest point in the journey at 1,626 m/5,332 feet, we went through Lake Louise (though couldn't see the lake) and saw Castle Mountain as we arrived at the Banff train station to the welcoming waves of the ever friendly Rocky Mountaineer staff. Once again we made excellent time and arrived over an hour early. Shuttles for passengers to the various hotels around town were there on our arrival, and we were taken to the Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa, where we could head straight to our room with our bags arriving shortly after.
Riding the Rocky Mountaineer was a great experience, but I think two days was enough time on the train. The staff were really lovely and accommodating of everyone's needs, and you can see how much pride they take in their customer service. For the sheer variety of scenery I think the First Passage to the West trip we did is hard to top, so if you can only do one Rocky Mountaineer journey I think it is the one to pick.