British Columbia is an enormous and delightful province on the west coast of Canada. Positioned between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, BC, because it’s identified regionally, is world well-known for its mountain ranges, lakes and glaciers, in addition to its many seashores, ski resorts and pure magnificence.
With 1000’s of valley lakes, enormous mountains and a largely unexplored north, there are many superb roads and scenic drives in British Colombia that make for some really unforgettable highway journeys regardless of the season.
The most effective highway journeys in British Columbia won’t solely take you thru a few of the most scenic areas within the province but additionally in Canada. You’ll be able to go to the Okanagan Valley and see world class vineyards or drive alongside the west coast and hang around on lovely seashores.
For those who’re rapidly on the lookout for snow-capped mountains, head north from cosmopolitan Vancouver as much as Whistler the place you possibly can ski or snowboard throughout winter months or go downhill biking in the summertime.
Wish to see salmon spawning or go to the Rocky Mountains in its rawest kind? British Columbia has each.
Dreaming of heat mountain lakes in summer time, pure scorching swimming pools yr spherical and nice mountaineering? BC has that in droves.
Whether or not you’re on the lookout for the proper place to take your loved ones on a highway journey, otherwise you simply wish to discover some lovely sights with your pals, there’s one thing in BC for everybody.
So whether or not you’re a neighborhood eager to broaden your vary, on trip touring with household or pals, or simply wish to get away from all of it, listed here are a few of our favorite drives in BC that can take you off the overwhelmed path and into nature’s playground.
The most effective highway journeys in British Columbia, Canada
Whether or not you have got your personal automobile or wish to lease a car, these are the very best highway journeys in British Columbia to soak up the gorgeous surroundings of this Canadian province.
For those who’re within the temper for a guided tour, BC has loads of bus excursions accessible and if you wish to see the province unfettered, touring the province by bike is a tremendous expertise. Whether or not you’re on the lookout for the greatest bike insurance coverage or wish to try the greatest issues to see and do from Vancouver to Banff, this put up has you lined.
The Sunshine Coast – Sunshine Coast Freeway
Vancouver to Powell River - 170km (105mi) - 4h 20m (2 Ferry crossings)
The Sunshine Coast Path is among the hottest hikes in BC, and for good purpose. It’s situated simply north of Vancouver on the coast, and gives quite a lot of totally different choices for mountaineering. This features a part that goes proper alongside the water with gorgeous views of mountains and ocean alike.
What does this must do with highway journeys? Effectively, not solely are you able to cease and hike the path, however getting there’s additionally a wonderful drive with tons of nice coastal views and mountainous backdrops alongside the way in which.
Just a few highlights alongside this route embody the two ferry crossings (the primary at Horseshoe Bay and the second at Earl’s Cove) with potentialities to see every little thing from whales to dolphins and even killer whales proper out of your car. The vast majority of the drive is 2 paved lanes and enormous animal sightings are widespread so maintain your eyes open for any fauna within the space together with moose, deer, bears, mountain goats and cougars.
If you wish to proceed your drive when you attain Powell Bay, you possibly can take a ferry over to Vancouver Island the place you’ll begin your island journey close to Comox.
The Okanagan Valley – Freeway 97
Vernon to Osoyoos - 173km (107mi) - 2h 25m
The Okanagan Valley is residence to some superb wineries and fruit orchards which have been round earlier than BC was even a province!
Beginning up round Vernon and persevering with south all the way down to Osoyoos you’ll see a few of BC’s prettiest lakes beginning with Kalamalka Lake that, relying on the season, can vary from cyan to indigo.
As you drive south from Vernon on Freeway 97 by way of Lake Nation and get into Kelowna, the center of BC’s inside, there’s tons of issues to do with the household together with hanging out alongside the boardwalk of the 135 km (84 mi) lengthy Okanagan Lake (one of many few lakes in Canada to by no means freeze within the winter) and seize an ice cream earlier than heading to the seaside.
As you proceed by way of West Kelowna (residence to nice vineyards like Mission Hill and Quails Gate) you’ll quickly end up driving by way of cities named Peachland and Summerland (nice names proper!) earlier than arriving in Penticton. Be sure to stroll the boardwalk on the town earlier than persevering with your drive south all the way down to Osoyoos, the warmest metropolis in Canada!
For those who love vineyards and cideries, there are actually lots of within the Okanagan Valley with many simply off the freeway so decide up a vineyard information accessible practically all over the place within the valley earlier than you begin your Okanagan BC roadtrip.
The Coquihalla Freeway – Freeway 5N
Hope to Kamloops - 203km (126mi) - 2h 15m
The stretch of freeway from Hope to Kamloops has 2 issues in abundance, lovely surroundings and notorious notoriety. The Coquihalla options beautiful mountain rivers and a few lovely mountain vistas nevertheless it’s additionally the star in a present referred to as Freeway Through Hell, depicting the generally hazardous circumstances that may happen in the course of the winter months. Since it’s a excessive mountain freeway by way of some unforgiving terrain, there’s some benefit to the legends but when doubtful, try the Drive BC web site and simply take note of the climate.
That mentioned, the Coq was initially constructed as a connector to hurry up the route that the Trans Canada freeway initially took because it made its manner west. Whereas the drive is certainly sooner by way of the Coquihalla, the great thing about the drive can also be unmistakable.
For those who’re feeling the urge for a scorching soak, veer off the freeway close to Bridal Falls to take a look at Harrison Scorching Springs.
As you allow Hope by way of Freeway 3 East (make sure that your tank is full because the subsequent gasoline station in Merritt is 120km or simply over an hour away), you’ll rapidly bounce onto Freeway 5 heading to Merritt and Kamloops. If you wish to get out and stretch your legs, the Othello Tunnels simply previous Hope are price a hike
As you pull into Merritt itself (a lot of the city is to the north of the freeway), now you can select to proceed northeast on Freeway 5 to Kamloops or head southeast down Freeway 97C to Kelowna and the Okanagan valley.
For those who’re planning to drive proper by way of both cities as you proceed east, the drive south towards Kelowna will add half an hour to your journey nevertheless it’s a prettier drive by far and takes you thru a number of small cities and cities.
The Island Drive – Freeway 1 and Freeway 19
Victoria to Qualicum Seashore (Vancouver Island)- 158km (98mi) - 2h 25mins
Although not formally referred to as The Island Drive, navigating this part of Vancouver Island positively suits the invoice. As you allow Victoria, the Victorian structure stuffed capital of British Columbia, and head north on Freeway 1, you’ll move quaint villages, fairly murals and get the occasional sweeping views of the ocean and the Gulf Islands.
There are lots of of locations to cease alongside the way in which to seize a chunk to eat, hike or store nevertheless there are just a few wineries and cideries round Cobble Hill which are price trying out. If you need a fast hike, it’s additionally price checking the Kinsol Trestle simply earlier than Cobble Hill. It’s one of many tallest free-standing timber rail trestle buildings on the earth and is superb to see. It’s a part of the Cowichan Valley Path and is a well-liked mountaineering space.
Nanaimo is the subsequent main metropolis on the way in which north. It’s not a nasty place to fill up provides in your Qualicum Seashore keep (for those who’re planning a brief vacay) and can also be the opposite main ferry terminal if you wish to hitch a ferry again to the mainland.
As you proceed north you’ll finally attain picturesque Nanoose Bay after which Parksville, one other main waterside vacation spot in its personal proper although the lengthy sandy seashores alongside Qualicum Seashore are often what entice the crowds.
Whereas within the area, make sure that to take a look at the Goats on the Roof (actually) on the Previous Nation Market in addition to the North Island Wildlife Restoration Centre. Each are nice locations to take the youngsters and hang around for just a few hours.
The Sea-to-Sky Freeway – Freeway 99
Vancouver to Whistler - 121km (75mi) - 1h 25mins
Not many individuals who go to Vancouver, usually ranked as among the best cities on earth, don’t take a day or two to make their manner as much as Whistler, BC’s premiere ski vacation spot. The hour and a half roadtrip north up Freeway 99 is stuffed with beautiful ocean and mountain views and passes by way of Squamish, an out of doors lovers playground.
With every little thing from mountain climbing to Bald Eagle viewing excursions within the winter (it held the biggest eagle viewing rely on the earth at 3769 with round 1300 noticed most given years), for those who like the outside then possible Squamish has one thing for you. Squamish can also be residence to the fantastic Sea to Sky Gondola, a yr spherical engineering marvel that zips you to the highest in consolation with loads of trails on both landings.
As you drive into Whistler, it’s rapidly evident why it’s touted as an adventurers vacation spot with a myriad of actions for the out of doors fanatics. After hitting the slopes, make sure that to take a look at the city centre (referred to as The Village) with nice purchasing, eating places and pubs open yr spherical. Although we frequently consider Whistler as a winter vacation spot, there are many actions there taking place yr spherical.
Visiting in the summertime? Try Porteau Cove Provincial Park, a preferred scuba diving vacation spot with synthetic shipwrecks and reefs supporting an enormous number of marine life, resembling octopus, lingcod and starfish simply minutes north of Horseshoe Bay. Don’t know learn how to dive? Take a course or discover the rocky seashores and go swimming within the ocean for a pleasant break out of your highway journey.
The Glacier Drive – Freeway 5 and Freeway 16
Kamloops to Jasper - 441km (274mi) - 4h 45mins
Whereas Jasper isn’t technically in BC (it’s 20km from the BC/Alberta border), the overwhelming majority of this drive is in British Columbia and it’s a wonderful highway journey by way of valleys and mountains, with just a few nice websites alongside the way in which.
As you head up Freeway 5 north from Kamloops, an amazing little metropolis fronting the gorgeous Thompson River and residential to the BC Wildlife Park, you’ll move huge open valleys that quickly turns into winding mountain passes. The nicest half about this Kamloops to Jasper highway journey is that the freeway follows alongside the North Thompson River for a large portion of the drive, which makes for an amazing backdrop and lovely views.
Alongside the way in which, you possibly can try some superb waterfalls or go whitewater rafting round Clearwater. For those who don’t have time to examine them out however wish to stretch your legs, try both North Thompson River Provincial Park proper earlier than Clearwater or the Blue River Provincial Park. Each are proper alongside the freeway and are simple to drag off into.
As you flip proper (North) onto Freeway 16 (referred to as the Yellowhead Freeway) you’ll have one other few locations to cease with Rearguard Falls Provincial Park simply on the suitable after which the Mount Robson customer centre with Mt. Robson (the tallest mountain within the Rockies) as a pleasant backdrop. For those who’re an avid hiker, the Berg Lake Path (23km) is commonly thought-about one of many high 5 greatest hikes in Canada with loads of beautiful surroundings and wildlife recognizing.
Pulling into Jasper, it’s simple to see why it’s touted as among the best locations in Canada. From the gorgeous water colours of the Athabasca River and surrounding lakes, to its proximity to glaciers and icefields to the Sky Tram and Marmot Basin ski resort it has lots to see and do together with Canada’s greatest Darkish Sky pageant.
If in case you have the time, there are a few of the most lovely waterfalls in Canada lower than an hour from Clearwater. Helmcken Falls, the 4th largest waterfall in Canada, in beautiful Wells Grey Park is only one of them. You may also try each Spahats Falls and Dawson Falls whereas on the way in which. Whole time to Helmcken Falls is round 45 minutes (44km) a method.
The Cathedral Drive – Freeway 4
Parksville to Port Alberni (Vancouver Island) – 50km (31mi) – 44mins
We solely found this route just a few years in the past when visiting Port Alberni for the primary time nevertheless it’s a fast, beautiful drive by way of previous progress forests and one of many prettiest walkways you’ll discover on Vancouver Island.
Simply as you move picturesque Cameron Lake, previous the midway level of your journey, lies Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park. This path results in essentially the most accessible large Douglas fir tree stands on Vancouver Island. You’ll be able to stroll the brief variety of trails beneath the shadow of large Douglas-fir bushes with some greater than 800 years previous.
Resulting from some extreme windstorms through the years, a few of the historic bushes have fallen and the park and trails are regularly being monitored and repaired. Ensure you examine to verify it’s open for those who determine to make the journey on the market.
The Rocky Mountain Move – Freeway 1
Revelstoke to Lake Louise - 227km (141mi) - 3hours
The Rocky Mountains are a a few of the most mountainous terrain on the earth nevertheless the drive by way of them is commonly a really nice expertise. Much like Jasper, Lake Louise is barely 10km from the BC/Alberta border so the vast majority of this highway journey takes place in British Columbia.
Alongside the way in which, you’ll drive over Canada’s highest mountain move, see just a few scorching swimming pools, search for on the second tallest waterfall in Canada, traverse the premiere whitewater rafting river within the nation plus witness a few of the greatest surroundings Canada has to supply.
Leaving east down Freeway 1 from Revelstoke, a former prepare station hub and residential to the nice Revelstoke Mountain resort and Pipe Mountain Coaster, a 1.4km all downhill rollercoaster that barrels your manner down a mountain, you’ll quickly hit a sequence of boardwalks and trails. The one you don’t wish to miss is Big Cedars Boardwalk, a fast 20 minute stroll by way of some extraordinarily giant cedar bushes.
Proper after that you’ve got Canyon Scorching Springs resort with a pleasant set of scorching swimming pools and shortly after that you just’ll be climbing by way of Roger’s Move, the very best level alongside Canada’s 8000+km TransCanada freeway.
As you arrive into Golden, Canada’s whitewater rafting capital, there are a myriad of adventures you possibly can partake in like whitewater rafting or trying out the Golden SkyBridge, Canada’s highest suspension bridge and zipline web site. After Golden you have got Area, a cute mountain city with close by entry to Takakkaw Falls, Canada’s 2nd highest waterfall and round 10 minutes off the freeway.
When you arrive in Lake Louise, you’ll wish to try the beautiful turquoise lake the city is known subsequent to gorgeous Chateau Lake Louise. There are some nice hikes across the space and for those who occur to be there in winter, Lake Louise Resort is taken into account among the best ski resorts in Alberta.
If you wish to examine extra issues to do alongside British Columbia’s TransCanada Freeway, try our final Vancouver to Banff highway journey information.
The Pacific Rim – Freeway 4
Port Alberni to Tofino (Vancouver Island) - 126km (78mi) - 1h 50mins
Touring on Freeway 4 west from Port Alberni to the coastal facet of Vancouver Island is a leisurely affair with some lovely coastal roads, some previous progress forests and loads of sights alongside the way in which.
As you allow Port Alberni, a small metropolis on the Alberni Inlet, Vancouver Island’s longest ocean inlet, you’ll rapidly move Sproat Lake, a 4 season space with lakeside cabins and tenting websites standard with fishermen and boaters alike. Subsequent, you have got Wally Creek. Proper beside the freeway with parking areas, it is a good spot to leap in and funky off within the cristal clear blue water.
Persevering with on you lastly arrive on the coast. If you wish to discover a few of the pure fantastic thing about the Pacific Rim Nationwide Park, now’s a good time to cease and seize a move on the Pacific Rim Customer centre. If you need a small detour, be at liberty to go south all the way down to Ucluelet whereas first stopping off for a brief stroll across the Historical Cedars Loop Path.
To the north and in direction of our closing vacation spot of Tofino, one other nice stroll is the Rainforest Path that may be a wooden boardwalk & gravel path by way of a veritable forest of cedar & hemlock bushes lined in moss.
Subsequent you have got the Pacific Rim Nationwide Park Reserve with a tiny vacationer city (Lengthy Seashore) on the sting of a nature lovers coastal retreat. Close to countless stretches of seaside entice surfers year-round nevertheless most go to merely to look at the waves and stroll the miles of sand.
Quickly you’ll be on the finish of your highway journey and driving into Tofino correct. This cozy city on the sting of the world is standard with surfers, nature lovers, whale watchers and hikers. In summer time the inhabitants swells nevertheless it’s additionally a preferred space yr spherical with some nice cooks and eating places calling the city residence.
One other standard browsing and seaside spot within the space is Chesterman Seashore on the southern outskirts of Tofino. There are many inns and lodges within the space for those who plan to remain for just a few days.
The Kootenays – Freeway 6, 31A, 31 and 3A
Nakusp to Creston by way of Balfour - 218km (135mi) - 3h 15mins (1 Ferry crossing)
Unfettered nature is one of the best ways to explain this highway journey by way of British Columbia’s fabled Kootenays. Beautiful lakes, enjoyable scorching springs, swaths of forests and a ferry trip are all highlights of this drive.
We first begin in Nakusp, a pleasant seaside village on the sting of the slightly lengthy Higher Arrow Lake. The Nakusp area is at all times busy in summer time and has a stunning seaside with clear water. As you head southeast out of city on Freeway 6, you’ll quickly be driving parallel to picturesque Slocan Lake. As you arrive into New Denver, a quaint village alongside the lake financial institution, you’ll quickly be heading due east on Freeway 31A.
As you drive over the Kokanee Glacier ranges, you’ll finally attain Kaslo, a village on the west shore of Kootenay Lake within the West Kootenay area. If you wish to stretch your legs, a fast stroll alongside the Kaslo River Path on the town is a pleasant diversion and there’s just a few good eating places right here as nicely. Additional south of Kaslo, Fletcher Falls makes an amazing brief pit cease with some good little falls simply off the freeway.
Subsequent we have now Ainsworth Scorching Springs, a favourite place of ours with some very nice scorching springs and a heated scorching springs cave. There’s additionally a scrumptious restaurant on web site as nicely and for those who keep within the resort, the recent springs are included. In any other case, they provide day passes for guests.
After a stunning drive south alongside alongside Kootenay Lake we arrive in Belfour the place it’s time to leap on a ferry over to Kootenay Bay as we proceed down Freeway 3A. The freeway itself follows Kootenay Lake all the way in which in direction of Creston so don’t fear about getting misplaced now. Creston itself is a valley city with quite a lot of facilities, lodges and eating places plus just a few wineries and the Columbia Brewery (residence of Kokanee beer) that provides brewery excursions. For those who’re there in summer time, make sure that to take a look at the wetlands on the Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre.
To get to Nakusp, you possibly can both head due south from Revelstoke on Freeway 23 or head east from Vernon on freeway 6. Both roads are nice nevertheless the extra cable ferry trip from Needle to Fauquier is a good bonus when driving in from Vernon and there are some nice views and superior lakes, particularly Mable Lake, Sugar Lake and Echo Lake simply off Freeway 6 which are price trying out as nicely you probably have time.
Bonus Highway Journey – The Island Freeway – Freeway 19N
Comox to Port Hardy (Vancouver Island) - 290km (180mi) - 3 hours (1 Ferry crossing)
Since no listing is ever full, we’ve determined to throw this final BC highway journey in as a bonus. It begins in picturesque Comox.
In Comox you possibly can try the fisherman’s wharf or one of many quite a few seashores resembling Goose Spit Park. Kite browsing is a well-liked pastime right here as nicely you’ll possible see some kites flashing by as you stroll the numerous seashores.
Heading north up Freeway 19, you’ll quickly be arriving in Campbell River. Town is a very fashionable whale watching middle in addition to famously internet hosting grizzly bear excursions. Both tour could be booked nicely prematurely with a number of firms and a few even assure a sighting or your subsequent tour is on them. One other standard exercise right here is heading to Elk Falls Suspension Bridge with it’s giant suspension bridge and waterfall in addition to trying out the Quinsam Salmon Hatchery, one of many largest salmon hatcheries in Canada.
Persevering with previous Campbell River (be sure you replenish earlier than leaving) you have got plenty of land to cowl that features a few rivers plus a lake earlier than getting again to the coast. Quickly you’ll be pulling in to Port Hardy and ready to take a look at the numerous seashores and marinas plus a plethora of day journeys to locations like God’s Pocket Marine Protect to view sea lions. Taking a guided kayak tour is a particular should if the climate is good.
You will get to Comox from the mainland by way of a BC ferry from Powell River so for those who’ve accomplished the highway journey there then this route is a pure development of it. You may also take a ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. For those who plan to do that 16 hour ferry, renting a room on board is an effective way to chill out and see every little thing alongside the way in which.
Last notes on the very best highway journeys in BC
After having our residence base in BC for over a decade, we’ve had the chance to see a big portion of it and may by no means get sufficient of the gorgeous surroundings, the pleasant individuals and the wild magnificence. Whereas this listing isn’t exhaustive, we hope it offers you just a few concepts of a few of the greatest highway journeys in British Columbia and conjures up you to go to and see the province for your self.
Suppose we missed a hidden gem? We’d love to listen to about it beneath. Protected travels.