British Columbia is an unlimited and exquisite 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, big 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 irrespective of the season.
One of the best street journeys in British Columbia is not going to solely take you thru a few of the most scenic areas within the province but additionally in Canada. You may 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 may 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 climbing? BC has that in droves.
Whether or not you’re on the lookout for the right place to take your loved ones on a street journey, otherwise you simply wish to discover some lovely sights with your folks, 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 below are a few of our favorite drives in BC that can take you off the overwhelmed path and into nature’s playground.
One of the best street journeys in British Columbia, Canada
Whether or not you might have your personal automobile or want to hire a car, these are the most effective street journeys in British Columbia to absorb the gorgeous surroundings of this Canadian province.
Vancouver to Powell River - 170km (105mi) - 4h 20m (2 Ferry crossings)
The Sunshine Coast Path is likely one of the hottest hikes in BC, and for good cause. It’s positioned simply north of Vancouver on the coast, and affords a wide range of completely different choices for climbing. 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? Nicely, not solely are you able to cease and hike the path, however getting there’s additionally a ravishing drive with tons of nice coastal views and mountainous backdrops alongside the way in which.
Just a few highlights alongside this route embrace the two ferry crossings (the primary at Horseshoe Bay and the second at Earl’s Cove) with potentialities to see all the things from whales to dolphins and even killer whales proper out of your car. The vast majority of the drive is 2 paved lanes and huge animal sightings are frequent so preserve 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 may 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 dwelling to some wonderful wineries and fruit orchards which were round earlier than BC was even a province!
Beginning up round Vernon and persevering with south right 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 means of Lake Nation and get into Kelowna, the guts 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 means of West Kelowna (dwelling to nice vineyards like Mission Hill and Quails Gate) you’ll quickly end up driving by means of cities named Peachland and Summerland (nice names proper!) earlier than arriving in Penticton. Make certain to stroll the boardwalk on the town earlier than persevering with your drive south right down to Osoyoos, the warmest metropolis in Canada!
For those who love vineyards and cideries, there are actually a whole lot within the Okanagan Valley with many simply off the freeway so decide up a vineyard information out there 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 attractive mountain rivers and a few lovely mountain vistas nevertheless it’s additionally the star in a present known as Freeway Through Hell, depicting the typically hazardous situations that may happen through the winter months. Since it’s a excessive mountain freeway by means of some unforgiving terrain, there’s some advantage to the legends but when unsure, take a look at 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 method west. Whereas the drive is certainly sooner through the Coquihalla, the great thing about the drive can 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 Sizzling Springs.
As you allow Hope through Freeway 3 East (ensure that your tank is full for the reason that 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 value 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.
For those who’re planning to drive proper by means 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 known as The Island Drive, navigating this part of Vancouver Island undoubtedly matches the invoice. As you allow Victoria, the Victorian structure stuffed capital of British Columbia, and head north on Freeway 1, you’ll cross quaint villages, fairly murals and get the occasional sweeping views of the ocean and the Gulf Islands.
There are a whole lot of locations to cease alongside the way in which to seize a chunk to eat, hike or store nevertheless there are a number of wineries and cideries round Cobble Hill which can be value trying out. If you would like a fast hike, it’s additionally value 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 climbing space.
Nanaimo is the following main metropolis on the way in which north. It’s not a nasty place to top off provides in your Qualicum Seashore keep (when you’re planning a brief vacay) and can be the opposite main ferry terminal if you wish to hitch a ferry again to the mainland.
As you proceed north you’ll ultimately 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 appeal to the crowds.
Whereas within the area, ensure that to take a look at the Goats on the Roof (actually) on the Outdated Nation Market in addition to the North Island Wildlife Restoration Centre. Each are nice locations to take the children 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 method as much as Whistler, BC’s premiere ski vacation spot. The hour and a half roadtrip north up Freeway 99 is stuffed with attractive ocean and mountain views and passes by means of Squamish, an outside lovers playground.
With all the things from mountaineering to Bald Eagle viewing excursions within the winter (it held the biggest eagle viewing depend on the earth at 3769 with round 1300 noticed most given years), when you like the outside then probably Squamish has one thing for you. Squamish can be dwelling to the great 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 fans. After hitting the slopes, ensure that to take a look at the city centre (often called The Village) with nice purchasing, eating places and pubs open yr spherical. Although we regularly 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 well-liked scuba diving vacation spot with synthetic shipwrecks and reefs supporting an enormous number of marine life, reminiscent of 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 a ravishing street journey by means of 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 gorgeous Thompson River and residential to the BC Wildlife Park, you’ll cross extensive 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 beautiful views.
Alongside the way in which, you may take a look at some wonderful waterfalls or go whitewater rafting round Clearwater. For those who don’t have time to examine them out however wish to stretch your legs, take a look at 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 tug off into.
As you flip proper (North) onto Freeway 16 (often called 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 usually thought of one of many prime 5 greatest hikes in Canada with loads of attractive surroundings and wildlife recognizing.
Pulling into Jasper, it’s simple 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 loads to see and do together with Canada’s greatest Darkish Sky pageant.
When 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 attractive Wells Grey Park is only one of them. You can too take a look at each Spahats Falls and Dawson Falls whereas on the way in which. Whole time to Helmcken Falls is round 45 minutes (44km) a technique.
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 however it’s a fast, attractive drive by means of outdated development forests and one of many prettiest walkways you’ll discover on Vancouver Island.
Simply as you cross 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 big Douglas fir tree stands on Vancouver Island. You may stroll the brief variety of trails beneath the shadow of big Douglas-fir bushes with some greater than 800 years outdated.
Resulting from some extreme windstorms through the years, a few of the historic bushes have fallen and the park and trails are frequently being monitored and repaired. Ensure you examine to verify it’s open when you determine to make the journey on the market.
The Rocky Mountain Go – 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 means of them is usually a really nice expertise. Just like Jasper, Lake Louise is simply 10km from the BC/Alberta border so the vast majority of this street journey takes place in British Columbia.
Alongside the way in which, you’ll drive over Canada’s highest mountain cross, see a number of scorching swimming pools, lookup 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 method down a mountain, you’ll quickly hit a sequence of boardwalks and trails. The one you don’t wish to miss is Large Cedars Boardwalk, a fast 20 minute stroll by means of some extraordinarily massive cedar bushes.
Proper after that you’ve Canyon Sizzling Springs resort with a pleasant set of scorching swimming pools and shortly after that you just’ll be climbing by means of Roger’s Go, 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 may partake in like whitewater rafting or trying out the Golden SkyBridge, Canada’s highest suspension bridge and zipline website. After Golden you might have Discipline, 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 take a look at the attractive turquoise lake the city is legendary subsequent to beautiful Chateau Lake Louise. There are some nice hikes across the space and when you occur to be there in winter, Lake Louise Resort is taken into account probably the greatest ski resorts in Alberta.
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 outdated development 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 cross Sproat Lake, a 4 season space with lakeside cabins and tenting websites common with fishermen and boaters alike. Subsequent, you might have 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 great thing about the Pacific Rim Nationwide Park, now’s a good time to cease and seize a cross on the Pacific Rim Customer centre. If you would like a small detour, be at liberty to go south right down to Ucluelet whereas first stopping off for a brief stroll across the Historic Cedars Loop Path.
To the north and in direction of our ultimate vacation spot of Tofino, one other nice stroll is the Rainforest Path that could be a wooden boardwalk & gravel path by means of 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 Seashore) on the sting of a nature lovers coastal retreat. Close to infinite stretches of seaside appeal to surfers year-round nevertheless most go to merely to observe 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 common with surfers, nature lovers, whale watchers and hikers. In summer time the inhabitants swells however it’s additionally a well-liked space yr spherical with some nice cooks and eating places calling the city dwelling.
One other common browsing and seaside spot within the space is Chesterman Seashore on the southern outskirts of Tofino. There are many inns and resorts within the space when 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 by means of British Columbia’s fabled Kootenays. Attractive lakes, enjoyable scorching springs, swaths of forests and a ferry journey 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 all the time busy in summer time 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 ultimately 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 brief pit cease with some good little falls simply off the freeway.
Subsequent we’ve Ainsworth Sizzling 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 website as effectively and when you keep within the lodge, the new springs are included. In any other case, they provide day passes for guests.
After a beautiful 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 a wide range of facilities, resorts and eating places plus a number of wineries and the Columbia Brewery (dwelling of Kokanee beer) that offers brewery excursions. For those who’re there in summer time, ensure that to take a look at the wetlands on the Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre.
To get to Nakusp, you may 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 journey 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 can be value trying out as effectively 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 street journey in as a bonus. It begins in picturesque Comox.
In Comox you may take a look at the fisherman’s wharf or one of many quite a few seashores reminiscent of 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 various 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 may be booked effectively prematurely with a number of corporations and a few even assure a sighting or your subsequent tour is on them. One other common exercise right here is heading to Elk Falls Suspension Bridge with it’s massive 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 refill 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 ready to take a look at the various 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 may get to Comox from the mainland through a BC ferry from Powell River so when you’ve executed 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. For those who plan to do that 16 hour ferry, renting a room on board is an effective way to chill out and see all the things alongside the way in which.
Closing notes on the most effective street journeys in BC
After having our dwelling 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 provides you a number of concepts of a few of the greatest street journeys in British Columbia and conjures up you to go to and see the province for your self.
Assume we missed a hidden gem? We’d love to listen to about it beneath. Protected travels.