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Winter Train Trips

Experience the wonder of the Canadian Snow Train

Canada is even more beautiful in the ice and snow — there's a certain magic to winter in this country. Imagine gliding through the frozen Canadian landscape on a snow train. Brilliant-white mountain peaks are framed by deep-blue skies. Icy forests of spruce and aspen line the tracks.

When the train stops, you can enjoy sleigh-rides, snowshoeing or simply relaxing by a crackling fire in your lodge.

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By this stage, you're already having dreams about mountains, moose and maple trees. We combine your personal preferences with our insider knowledge to save you hours of pointless internet trawling.

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Reindeer in the Yukon on the Arctic Circle Tour

5 Perks of a Winter Train Trip

The deep blanket of snow transforms the landscape completely with dreamy winter vistas that are hushed and tranquil.

  1. There are fewer crowds: Enjoy a more laid-back, quieter experience traveling in winter, and the freedom to travel when you want with greater availability.
  2. The scenery looks amazing: The Canadian Rockies are stunning at any time of the year, but they look particularly magical covered in a blanket of shimmering snow.
  3. Cozy mountain lounges: After a day of exploring outside in the snow, there's nothing better than warming your rosy cheeks and cold toes by a roaring fire.
  4. You'll see the remote backcountry: Trains cut through parts of the frozen Canadian wilderness, where there are no roads or trails and the pristine snow is chest-deep.
  5. It's a truly authentic taste of life in Canada: The way Canadians deal with this long, cold season shapes their cultural identity. It's often said that you don't really understand Canada until you experience it in the winter.

Winter Train Experiences

These are some suggested experiences for your Canadian adventure
VIA Rail Sleeper cabin for two with bunks beds beside a window, a laptop on the lower bunk, and a vanity mirror and door.

Sleeper Train

VIA Rail

There are two train routes in Canada which allow you to sleep on the train. Travel between Vancouver and Toronto on The Canadian, with stops in Jasper or Winnipeg. Or travel the East Coast of Canada on the Ocean train from Montreal to Halifax. Both sleeper train routes are available all year long. Some sleeper trains in Canada are equipped with special panoramic viewing cars to provide you with the best view of the scenery day or night.

Dog sled in the snow in Whitehorse

Activities for your Winter Trip

Rather than hide from the snow and cold, Canadians embrace it by making the frozen wilderness their chilly playground.

  • Dog Sledding: Glide swiftly across a frozen lake or through a silent, snow-laden forest pulled by a team of strong, beautiful huskies.
  • Snowshoeing: It's so much easier to explore the remote winter backcountry when you can step nimbly across even the deepest drifts.
  • Ice Skating: Go for a spin on Lake Louise or wind through the heart of downtown Ottawa on the frozen Rideau Canal.
  • Hot Springs: Ease yourself slowly into the steamy, sulphur-scented waters of Banff Hot Springs and let your muscles completely relax.
  • Maple Taffy Making: A quintessential Quebec treat, maple taffy is made with real French Canadian maple syrup, drizzled into a bank of fresh snow.

How's the Weather

The winter weather in Canada is actually not as cold as you might think. Here's a quick look at the climate in three regions with very different environments.
Family enjoying the warmth of a fire pit in the winter

The Rocky Mountains

Temperatures in the Rockies can drop to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit). However, due to the dryness of the air, even extreme temperatures feel bearable. The average temperature in Banff National Park during the winter months is around -12 degrees Celsius (10 degrees Fahrenheit).

Plus, as long as you are bundled up in boots, a scarf and a toque (that's Canadian for "wooly hat") you'll be just fine. After all, the locals say, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing." Keep in mind the weather can change quickly.

Couple skating past an ice castle in the rockies

Celebrate Winter in Canada

Canada comes alive at this time of year with festivals dedicated to celebrating the magic of the snowy season.

  • Carnaval du Quebec: Watch the lights twinkle on the ice palace, dance to live music, see the elaborate floats in the night parade, and cheer on the Ice Canoe Race.
  • Winterlude: One of the biggest events in Ottawa, this is a joyous, bombastic celebration that includes live music, dancing, and an ice-carving competition.
  • Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival: Every year expert chainsaw-wielding ice carvers gather to hew shimmering works of art from towering 300lb blocks of solid ice.
  • World Ski & Snowboard Festival: The best skiers and snowboarders come from all over the world to compete in this 10 day festival in the alpine village of Whistler, BC.

Recommended Winter Train Trips

Ready to start planning your Canadian journey?

Here at Fresh Tracks Canada, we have gourmet globetrotters, tranquil train-travellers, bold backpackers, and nature lovers. But what ties us together is that we're all passionate travellers. When we're not helping people plan vacations to Canada, we're getting together to plan our own adventures.

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