Why Visit British Columbia?
This province is very rugged, with mountains covering most of its area (and great ski towns like Whistler, Revelstoke, Golden, and Fernie), and home to many different First Nations and their totems. There are high and dry plateaus in the interior, with Okanagan and Shuswups providing both stunning lakes and world-class wineries. And don’t skip the Coast and Vancouver Island which share their rocky beauty, tall, tall trees, and whales and other sealife. And while in Vancouver, check out “Hollywood North”, and the shopping, dining, and nightlife.
Here is the route of the TransCanada highway from east to west:
Leaving the Alberta border, you have a full day of driving through mountain ranges. You pass through Yoho National Park to Golden, and cross the Rogers Pass through the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains.
The highest point on the Trans-Canada is at the Kicking Horse Pass on the border between Alberta & BC, with an elevation of 1643 metres. The Roger’s Pass is 300 m lower.
As you descend into the Interior of BC you arrive at Revelstoke, a city on the banks of the massive Columbia River system.
From there, the highways winds westward into the pretty Shuswap Lakes region, and the towns of Sicamous and Salmon Arm famous for its fleet of houseboats. To the south of Shuswap Lake is the sunny and hot Okanagan Lake region. The only major city on the Trans-Canada Highway is Kamloops, where the North Thompson River joins the South Thompson.
From Hope, you drive westwards through the lush farmlands of the Fraser River Delta and through the suburbs (Langley, Surrey, New Westminster, and Burnaby) of Vancouver. Once you cross the Burrard Inlet, the highway climbs through North Vancouver and West Vancouver for magnificent views of Vancouver‘s downtown across the water, and ends at Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.
Tofino is NOT the “End of the Trans-Canada Highway”
Many people have enquired with our website about the sign in Tofino, that claims to be the “Western Terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway”, and we have been interviewed by travel journalists from around the world on this topic.
The sign was erected back in 1912 by that town’s council to encourage construction of a cross-Canada roadway, suggesting it should end at the westernmost point possible. When the highway route was selected in the post-World War II era, it the federal funding for it was focused on connecting major population centres and provincial capital cities (see Highway History). That is why the official highway passes through/by Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay, uses a ferry connection to Nanaimo, and connects south to Victoria. At the time, back in 1953, the BC government extended the 4-lane Island Highway (#19) north from Nanaimo up to Campbell River, providing high-speed highway connections between the island’s major population (and commercial/tourist) centres.
The two-lane route to Tofino, Highway 4, was an unpaved gravel forestry road from 1959 until 1972, when it was paved, and is currently getting improved in a number of sections. This road was not paved until a decade after the Trans-Canada Highway was deemed completed. The highway connects the communities of Parksville and Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni ( a deepwater port long important to the lumber industry) and Tofino & Uclulet on the west coast of the Island. The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was created in 1970, and was the impetus for the paving of Highway 4. The road has two high points, Port Alberni Summit (400 metres, about 9 km east of Port Alberni), and Sutton Pass (elevation 240 metred, about 40 km W of Port Alberni) west of Port Alberni.
The road between Qualicum Beach and Tofino has narrow shoulders, steep and long ups and downs, and is NOT RECOMMENDED for cyclists, wishing to do a cross-Canada route. Stick to the official Trans-Canada Highway, and start/end your Pacific leg at Victoria.