About 45 minutes south of Calgary, located in the middle of the prairies, there is a Mecca for train lovers. This Alberta train experience is a great tourist destination for kids or a romantic weekend gateway. Everything here is in walking distance; once you have parked at your campsite or caboose you can just leave your vehicle. Aspen Crossing features a dining car restaurant, a tavern, escape rooms, a large gift shop, and themed train rides. We travelled down for a weekend in the fall to experience it all!
Spend a Night in a Caboose
The bright yellow Union Pacific caboose from the early 1920s, our home for the night, was situated in the middle of the campground. While being the smallest of the three Cabooses available, the inside was roomy and fitted with tons of amenities; half bath, kitchenette, bunk beds, and the cutest gas fireplace (which kept us cosy all night long). We opted for sleeping on the pullout couch, which was very comfortable. Wood details decorated the inside of the caboose. Keeping with the train theme, the cabinet door handles were railway spikes. Outside we had a BBQ on the deck and a fire pit ready to go with a bag of wood.
Cost: About $200 a night on weekends for the Union Pacific caboose
Diefenbaker Dining Car Restaurant
This restored dining car from 1887 is a great place to grab a bite any time of the day. Inside still has the train feel decor with its dark wooden accents. We took advantage of Sunday’s breakfast brunch for $16.95 each. There was tons of food to choose from. For dinner, we enjoyed a dish of flavorful Garlic Ginger Glazed Salmon (gluten-free) and Chicken Souvlaki.
Gluten Free Details: Their menu had a few different options to choose from including a delicious chocolate flourless cake for dessert. For breakfast, I enjoyed scrambled eggs, bacon, and roast beef at the brunch buffet. We made sure to be the first at the buffet when it opened so I knew no cross contamination had happened yet with the serving utensils.
Gift Shop Station
Christmas was in full season inside when we visited. They had brightly decorated trees and ornaments everywhere! The building is a replica of a CPR train station from the early 1900’s. I loved browsing around to see what was hiding in all the corners. We even got our fortune read for a dollar by Pappy (a mechanical fortuneteller) who was decked out in western wear with a Steam Whistle bottle in hand. The gift shop is the central hub of the grounds. Any questions we had about our stay we headed here to find out answers from the welcoming staff members.
Bergquist House Escape Rooms and Tavern
This repurposed farmhouse from 1912 is beautiful inside with strong wood accents and a staircase that leads from the tavern up to the two escape rooms above. The staff kindly let us book an escape room Sunday morning before they normally open and I am so glad that they did! The room was very well done with antiques from the 1930’s. The puzzles were not just all about the locks; we used all of our skills trying to escape from this room. With only 1 minute left on the clock and three hints, we escaped! We both enjoyed this room so much. After, they happily gave us a tour of the house and some of the history behind it. It was cool to learn that the room we just escaped from is home to their resident ghost. We had no reason to worry though, she only visits at night.
Train Rides – Train of Terror
In the summer, they have over thirteen different themed train rides including; High Tea, Circus Train, Prairie Tours, and so many more! In the colder seasons, there is the Train of Terror in October and The Polar Express™ from mid-November to the end of December. Some tours include food, theatrical entertainment, and train robberies.
Our ticket got us on board the Train of Terror. I was not sure what to expect, as it had been over a decade since I visited a haunted house. This well-organized event offered more than just a haunted house. We started out in the greenhouse outfitted with many spooky photo spots and a bar area. This experience is not for the faint of heart (good thing I am terrified of things jumping out at me!), in fact everyone had to sign waivers. The path leading to the train took us through a haunted maze. This haunt was full of creepy special effects and ghastly actors around each corner. My favourite effect was the spinning tunnel room; it was colourfully trippy and left me a bit dizzy.
The reward for making it out of the maze was getting to the Train of Terror. After boarding, passengers took advantage of the bar and seating cars waiting in anticipation for the ride to start. Once the train got underway, people were welcome to start exploring the haunted cars. This was definitely scarier than the maze. I successfully made it through by strategically using JC as a personal shield. Feeling accomplished after we made it through, we danced through the cars on the other side. At this end of the train, there were many cars to sit and relax in. A few cars had bars set up with drinks and the final car, a spooky clown car, was serving up pizza by the slice. We settled in the dome car with a glass ceiling. As the train carried on, the cars filled up with wide-eyed passengers still full of excitement from surviving the Train of Terror. Towards the end of the ride, the lights went out and creepy visitors from the haunt walked up and down the aisles. It was like a spooky zombie catwalk, once they went to leave we all loudly clapped appreciating their performance. At the end of the trip, once everyone was off the train, the ghastly actors hung around for photos. I would love to check out some of their other themed train rides.
Have you ever visited this great Alberta experience? What other train attractions have you been to? Share with me by commenting below or tweet at me here!
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