The Skeena – A spectacular rail journey in the heart of the Rockies

(NC)-Incredible, breathtaking, majestic. These are the words used by passengers to describe the Skeena – VIA Rail?s unique rail adventure across the wondrous Canadian Rockies and the coastal range in north-central B.C.

?It?s easily the best-kept scenic secret in train travel,? said Ali Macaraeg, Manager, Market Development (West) for VIA Rail Canada.

The Skeena provides the most convenient means to experience the fine views of these incredible landscapes. The two-day, 1,160-kilometre journey winds past jagged peaks and glacial streams to ocean vistas as it runs between Jasper, on the east side of the Rockies, and Prince Rupert, on the Pacific coast, close to Alaska.

?It?s worth travelling into Western Canada, Alberta and British Columbia just for the view you get of the Rockies and the peaks of Northwestern B.C.,? added Macaraeg. ?In summer, you?ll see the snow-capped summits, glaciers and the lakes. In winter, the snow in the valleys heightens the typically Canadian character of the region.?

Throughout the journey you?ll be rubbing shoulders with history. You?ll follow ancient trading routes used by aboriginal peoples, you?ll cross Yellowhead pass in the Rockies, and you?ll travel through the inner plain of British Columbia and Bulkley Valley. You?ll follow the Skeena river valley and, like the first European explorers that came here about 200 years ago, you?ll reach the shores of the Pacific.

At every stage, you?ll discover rich First Nations culture and fascinating fauna and flora. You can treat yourself to a walk in unspoiled nature, or even a few days of camping. The region abounds in opportunities for outdoor and sporting types: rock climbing, downhill and cross-country skiing, long hikes, horse riding, mountain biking, and so on.

You have a choice of two classes on this train – Economy class, available year-round, and Totem Deluxe (first) class, available from May 14 to September 30, 2008.

The prestigious Totem class service includes meals served at your seat and exclusive use of the Park car. It?s in this car?s upper deck that you can take in the superb 360-degree view of the majestic scenes unfolding before you.

?There are more mountains and wildlife to see on this route than any other route in Canada,? Macaraeg added.

Downstairs, in the congenial Bullet Lounge, animation and narration abounds as attendants point out scenic highlights throughout the journey.

Traveling only in daytime, this train leaves three times weekly from Jasper, Alberta, heading for Prince Rupert and the Pacific coast, in northern British Columbia. A night in Prince George, in the hotel of your choice, is part of the itinerary.

First-class ticket will cost you $649 for the entire two-day trip from Jasper to Prince Rupert. While the fare includes all on board meals, it does not include overnight accommodation in Prince George. Seniors, students and children are entitled to discounts. More information on the Skeena is available at www.viarail.ca.

– News Canada