British Columbia is an unlimited and exquisite province on the west coast of Canada. Situated 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 wonderful roads and scenic drives in British Colombia that make for some actually unforgettable street journeys regardless of the season.
The very best street journeys in British Columbia won’t solely take you thru among the most scenic areas within the province but additionally in Canada. You possibly can go to the Okanagan Valley and see world class vineyards or drive alongside the west coast and hang around on lovely seashores.
Should you’re rapidly in search of 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 season, pure sizzling swimming pools 12 months spherical and nice mountaineering? BC has that in droves.
Whether or not you’re in search of the right place to take your loved ones on a street journey, otherwise you simply need to discover some lovely sights with your folks, there’s one thing in BC for everybody.
So whether or not you’re an area eager to broaden your vary, on trip touring with household or pals, or simply need 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 very best street journeys in British Columbia, Canada
Whether or not you might have your personal automotive or wish to lease a automobile, these are the very best street journeys in British Columbia to absorb the attractive surroundings of this Canadian province.
Should you’re within the temper for a guided tour, BC has loads of bus excursions out there and if you wish to see the province unfettered, touring the province by bike is a tremendous expertise. Whether or not you’re in search of the best motorcycle insurance or need to try the best things to see and do from Vancouver to Banff, this put up has you coated.
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 cause. It’s positioned simply north of Vancouver on the coast, and gives a wide range of completely different choices for mountaineering. This features a part that goes proper alongside the water with beautiful views of mountains and ocean alike.
What does this should do with street journeys? Effectively, not solely are you able to cease and hike the path, however getting there may be additionally an exquisite 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 all the pieces from whales to dolphins and even killer whales proper out of your automobile. Nearly all of the drive is 2 paved lanes and enormous animal sightings are frequent so hold 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 wonderful 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 via Lake Nation and get into Kelowna, the guts of BC’s inside, there’s tons of things to do with the family 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 via West Kelowna (residence to nice vineyards like Mission Hill and Quails Gate) you’ll quickly end up driving via cities named Peachland and Summerland (nice names proper!) earlier than arriving in Penticton. Be sure that 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!
Should you 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 out there almost in all places 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 nonetheless it’s additionally the star in a present known as Freeway Via Hell, depicting the generally hazardous circumstances that may happen throughout the winter months. Since it’s a excessive mountain freeway via some unforgiving terrain, there may be some benefit to the legends but when unsure, try the Drive BC website and simply take note of the climate.
That stated, the Coq was initially constructed as a connector to hurry up the route that the Trans Canada freeway initially took because it made its approach west. Whereas the drive is certainly quicker through the Coquihalla, the great thing about the drive can also be unmistakable.
Should you’re feeling the urge for a sizzling soak, veer off the freeway close to Bridal Falls to take a look at Harrison Hot Springs.
As you allow Hope through Freeway 3 East (ensure your tank is full because the subsequent gasoline station in Merritt is 120km or simply over an hour away), you’ll rapidly leap 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 (many 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.
Should you’re planning to drive proper via both cities as you proceed east, the drive south towards Kelowna will add half an hour to your journey nonetheless 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 Seaside (Vancouver Island)- 158km (98mi) - 2h 25mins
Although not formally known as The Island Drive, navigating this part of Vancouver Island positively suits the invoice. As you allow Victoria, the Victorian structure crammed 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 nonetheless there are a number of wineries and cideries round Cobble Hill which might be price testing. If you would like 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 wonderful to see. It’s a part of the Cowichan Valley Path and is a well-liked mountaineering space.
Nanaimo is the following main metropolis on the way in which north. It’s not a nasty place to replenish provides on your Qualicum Seaside keep (in the event you’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 Seaside are often what entice the crowds.
Whereas within the area, ensure 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 a number of 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 probably the greatest cities on earth, don’t take a day or two to make their approach as much as Whistler, BC’s premiere ski vacation spot. The hour and a half roadtrip north up Freeway 99 is crammed with beautiful ocean and mountain views and passes via Squamish, an out of doors lovers playground.
With all the pieces from mountaineering 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), in the event you like the outside then probably Squamish has one thing for you. Squamish can also be residence to the great Sea to Sky Gondola, a 12 months 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, ensure to take a look at the city centre (generally known as The Village) with nice buying, eating places and pubs open 12 months spherical. Although we regularly consider Whistler as a winter vacation spot, there are many actions there occurring 12 months spherical.
Visiting in the summertime? Take a look at Porteau Cove Provincial Park, a preferred scuba diving vacation spot with synthetic shipwrecks and reefs supporting an enormous number of marine life, akin to octopus, lingcod and starfish simply minutes north of Horseshoe Bay. Don’t know how one can dive? Take a course or discover the rocky seashores and go swimming within the ocean for a pleasant break out of your street 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 an exquisite street journey via valleys and mountains, with a number of nice websites alongside the way in which.
As you head up Freeway 5 north from Kamloops, an incredible little metropolis fronting the attractive 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 street journey is that the freeway follows alongside the North Thompson River for a large portion of the drive, which makes for an incredible backdrop and lovely views.
Alongside the way in which, you possibly can try some wonderful waterfalls or go whitewater rafting round Clearwater. Should you don’t have time to test them out however need 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 straightforward to tug off into.
As you flip proper (North) onto Freeway 16 (generally known as the Yellowhead Freeway) you’ll have one other few locations to cease with Rearguard Falls Provincial Park simply on the correct after which the Mount Robson customer centre with Mt. Robson (the tallest mountain within the Rockies) as a pleasant backdrop. Should you’re an avid hiker, the Berg Lake Path (23km) is usually thought-about one of many high 5 greatest hikes in Canada with loads of beautiful surroundings and wildlife recognizing.
Pulling into Jasper, it’s straightforward to see why it’s touted as probably the greatest locations in Canada. From the beautiful 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 Dark Sky festival.
When you have the time, there are among 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 can too 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 a number of years in the past when visiting Port Alberni for the primary time nevertheless it’s a fast, beautiful drive via outdated 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 probably the most accessible large Douglas fir tree stands on Vancouver Island. You possibly can stroll the quick variety of trails underneath the shadow of large Douglas-fir bushes with some greater than 800 years outdated.
Resulting from some extreme windstorms over time, among the historic bushes have fallen and the park and trails are frequently being monitored and repaired. Ensure you test to verify it’s open in the event you resolve 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 among the most mountainous terrain on the earth nonetheless the drive via them is usually a really nice expertise. Just like Jasper, Lake Louise is just 10km from the BC/Alberta border so nearly all of this street journey takes place in British Columbia.
Alongside the way in which, you’ll drive over Canada’s highest mountain move, see a number of sizzling swimming pools, search for on the second tallest waterfall in Canada, traverse the premiere whitewater rafting river within the nation plus witness among 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 approach down a mountain, you’ll quickly hit a collection of boardwalks and trails. The one you don’t need to miss is Big Cedars Boardwalk, a fast 20 minute stroll via some extraordinarily giant cedar bushes.
Proper after that you’ve Canyon Scorching Springs resort with a pleasant set of sizzling swimming pools and shortly after that you simply’ll be climbing via 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 testing the Golden SkyBridge, Canada’s highest suspension bridge and zipline web site. After Golden you might have Subject, 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 need to try the beautiful turquoise lake the city is legendary subsequent to beautiful Chateau Lake Louise. There are some nice hikes across the space and in the event you occur to be there in winter, Lake Louise Resort is taken into account probably the greatest ski resorts in Alberta.
If you wish to examine extra issues to do alongside British Columbia’s TransCanada Freeway, try our ultimate Vancouver to Banff road trip guide.
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 aspect of Vancouver Island is a leisurely affair with some lovely coastal roads, some outdated 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 well-liked with fishermen and boaters alike. Subsequent, you might have Wally Creek. Proper beside the freeway with parking areas, it is a excellent 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 among 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 would like 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 Historic Cedars Loop Path.
To the north and in the direction of our closing vacation spot of Tofino, one other nice stroll is the Rainforest Path that could be a wooden boardwalk & gravel path via a veritable forest of cedar & hemlock bushes coated in moss.
Subsequent you might have the Pacific Rim Nationwide Park Reserve with a tiny vacationer city (Lengthy Seaside) on the sting of a nature lovers coastal retreat. Close to infinite stretches of seaside entice surfers year-round nonetheless most go to merely to look at the waves and stroll the miles of sand.
Quickly you’ll be on the finish of your street journey and driving into Tofino correct. This cozy city on the sting of the world is well-liked with surfers, nature lovers, whale watchers and hikers. In summer season the inhabitants swells nevertheless it’s additionally a preferred space 12 months spherical with some nice cooks and eating places calling the city residence.
One other well-liked browsing and seaside spot within the space is Chesterman Seaside on the southern outskirts of Tofino. There are many inns and accommodations within the space in the event you plan to remain for a number of days.
The Kootenays – Freeway 6, 31A, 31 and 3A
Nakusp to Creston through Balfour - 218km (135mi) - 3h 15mins (1 Ferry crossing)
Unfettered nature is one of the simplest ways to explain this street journey via British Columbia’s fabled Kootenays. Attractive lakes, stress-free sizzling 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 somewhat lengthy Higher Arrow Lake. The Nakusp area is at all times busy in summer season and has a beautiful 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 a number of good eating places right here as effectively. Additional south of Kaslo, Fletcher Falls makes an incredible quick pit cease with some good little falls simply off the freeway.
Subsequent now we have Ainsworth Scorching Springs, a favourite place of ours with some very nice sizzling springs and a heated sizzling springs cave. There’s additionally a scrumptious restaurant on web site as effectively and in the event you keep within the lodge, 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 the direction of Creston so don’t fear about getting misplaced now. Creston itself is a valley city with a wide range of facilities, accommodations and eating places plus a number of wineries and the Columbia Brewery (residence of Kokanee beer) that offers brewery excursions. Should you’re there in summer season, ensure 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 nonetheless the extra cable ferry trip from Needle to Fauquier is a superb 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 might be price testing as effectively if in case you 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 checklist is ever full, we’ve determined to throw this final BC street 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 akin to Goose Spit Park. Kite browsing is a well-liked pastime right here as effectively you’ll probably see some kites flashing by as you stroll the numerous seashores.
Heading north up Freeway 19, you’ll quickly be arriving in Campbell River. The town is a very fashionable whale watching middle in addition to famously internet hosting grizzly bear excursions. Both tour will be booked effectively upfront with a number of firms and a few even assure a sighting or your subsequent tour is on them. One other well-liked exercise right here is heading to Elk Falls Suspension Bridge with it’s giant suspension bridge and waterfall in addition to testing 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 might have numerous 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 in a position 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 sweet.
You will get to Comox from the mainland through a BC ferry from Powell River so in the event you’ve performed the street journey there then this route is a pure development of it. You can too take a ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. Should you plan to do that 16 hour ferry, renting a room on board is a good way to loosen up and see all the pieces alongside the way in which.
Closing notes on the very best street 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 attractive surroundings, the pleasant folks and the wild magnificence. Whereas this checklist isn’t exhaustive, we hope it provides you a number of concepts of among the greatest street journeys in British Columbia and evokes 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 under. Protected travels.