Gary Duffy

Founder / Owner

Born in New Zealand and destined to become a sheep farmer, Gary traveled to Canada at the age of 25 and fell in love with the country. 

Four months later, his career path changed to tourism specialized in selling Canada & Alaska. 

By the time Gary moved to Canada in April 2000, he had traveled the country more than 80 times. 

He continues to travel throughout Canada and Alaska researching new and unique experiences, and his favorite holiday is Sonora Resort for wildlife viewing and amazing food and wine. 

What is your favorite Canadian Rail Tour

In summer (May to September) my favorite is the “Western Canada Highlights Train Tour." This 7-day itinerary includes the Rocky Mountaineer Train from Vancouver to Jasper, which in my opinion is the best direction as you can watch the scenery transform from the Bugaboo and Monashee mountains ranges into the rugged Canadian Rockies.

On arrival in Jasper, I highly recommend spending two nights with a full day spent on the morning Maligne Valley with Medicine lake Tour.

The stretch from Jasper to Lake Louise is a highlight of the trip, and still after my 30 years traveling the parkway I love every second of the drive. This 230km (140 mi) scenic road parallels the Continental Divide, traversing the rugged landscape between Jasper and Banff National Parks. With so many stops for photos and an Ice Explorer ride onto the Athabasca Glacier, this is a full day tour to Lake Louise.

From Lake Louise to Banff, the drive is only 90 minutes along the Bow Valley highway, so we've kept the morning free to explore lake Louise. If you intend traveling on our Moderate or Superior grade tour, I highly suggest you upgrade for one night at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Perched on the edge of the lake with views of the Victoria Glacier, it's absolutely worth the splurge.

With 2 nights in Banff, I can honestly say that I'm torn between all three freedom of choice excursions. At Kicking Horse Resort Grizzly Bear Refuge you have the chance to see Boo roaming his natural habitat, and the drive through Yoho National Park to Emerald Lake is simply spectacular. The morning tour of Banff with gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain provides scenic views of the town, while riding a horse along the Bow River trail for a cowboy cookout offers a different view of the region.

On the final day of the tour it’s only a 90-minute drive to Calgary Airport, so I would plan to spend as much time as you can in Banff before boarding a transfer for your flight.

Time of the year to Travel

My favorite months to travel the Rockies is either May or June, when an abundance of wildlife can be seen feeding near the highways as they wait for the snow to melt on the mountains. Note that from May to mid-June the lakes in the Rockies will still be frozen, so if you want to see the iconic deep blue color I recommend visiting in September.

If you plan to travel between December and April, my favorite Canadian rail tour would be our “Canadian Rockies Winter Rail Wonderland” package. This 9-day tour includes snowshoeing, dogsledding, a sleigh ride on Lake Louise and stays at the famous Fairmont Resort hotels of the Canadian Rockies.

Whats your favorite Rail Tour in Alaska

This is a hard question for me, since I love all of Alaska. The wildlife viewing, incredible scenery and friendly locals are truly unique.

I've been to Alaska many times, and the “Spectacular Glaciers, Denali & Alaska Rail Adventure” and “Glaciers, Fjords Denali & Alaska Train Vacation” packages are still high on my list. Both itineraries begin with Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward, then continue into Kenai Fjords National Park for a cruise with amazing marine wildlife viewing. A 2-night stay at Seward Windsong Lodge takes time out to enjoy Alaska's abundance of fresh seafood, and the helicopter ride onto a glacier to experience dogsledding is a must.

After a short 90-minute drive to Whittler, enjoy a day cruise into Prince William Sound for some of the best tidewater glacier viewing in Alaska. Prince William Sound has over 150 glaciers and 17 tidewater glaciers known in the summertime for dramatically dropping huge chunks of ice into the sea. I find that the weather patterns in Prince William Sound are far better than Glacier Bay, and you'll notice that the blue skies reflecting on the glacier silt give that deep aqua blue color everyone expects to see.

After the cruise take the train to Anchorage for a 2-night stay, and fill your free day with a bush or floatplane flight to the remote Katmai region for some Alaska brown bear viewing.

From Anchorage board Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna, where a population of around 900 residents provides a true small-town experience. Then it's onto Denali National Park Entrance for a 2-night stay at my favorite accommodation, Denali Cabins.

Your full day in Denali takes you deep into the backcountry, where you'll have a chance to see wildlife and views of the majestic mountain itself. It’s a very long day to do both directions by coach, so I recommend taking a bush plane flight back to arrive for pre-dinner drinks. Next, you can either take Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks for 2 nights to see the Arctic Circle, or you can board the train back to Anchorage

If you have time for a remote lodge experience, you need to see Sheldon Chalet. Board a helicopter from Anchorage for a 3-night stay on Denali Mountain, and experience luxury at an elevation of 6,000 feet.

Gary Duffy

My top picks