Q Are there options for affordable trips, preferably in late spring or early summer, to travel across the Canadian Rockies by train?
A Many travelers like the coziness of a group tour for the ramble across this portion of the Rocky Mountains. And for guided jaunts through towns like Edmonton, Jasper and Calgary, that's fine. But independent travelers will save money by purchasing rail tickets directly from VIA Rail Canada and booking lodging separately.
VIA Rail Canada (888-842-7245, www.viarail.ca) has new flexible ticket prices to make trips more affordable. The new Flexi Fares program allows passengers to find the best prices based on travel dates, booking preferences and choice of on-board accommodations (i.e., semi-private or private berths). The starting price for a round-trip ticket to/from Vancouver and Jasper would be $230 per person.
Instead of purchasing a sleeping cabin for your entire trip, you could combine class services. For example, you can sit in a regular seat (called "Comfort" class) for a short trip such as Edmonton to Jasper and upgrade to the sleeping car ("Silver" or "Blue" class) for the overnight portions. For trips longer than just a few days, you can buy a Canrail pass that allows 12 days of travel within 30 days from $389 per person.
Depending on your plans, independent package deals could be a way to save money, too. Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours (877-460-3200, www.rockymountainrail.com) offers a two-day package in April between Vancouver and Banff, Jasper or Calgary from $351 per person double. Four-day packages are available from $597 per person double.
Keep in mind that the best fares are available in April and May, before the summer peak season starts.
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