British Columbia Trans-Canada Highway

What to See & Do in 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.

Visit British Columbia

Main Tourist Areas of British Columbia

To help in exploring the province, we have divided our British Columbia content up into five major regions:

BC Rockies & Kootenays


Fraser Valley & Lower Mainland


Victoria & Vancouver Island

Main Route of the #1 Trans-Canada Highway

Here is the route of the #1 TransCanada highway from east to west:

Rogers Pass Summit Sign With Mountains (Mark Ruthenberg)

Rogers Pass Summit Sign With Mountains (Mark Ruthenberg)

Leaving the Alberta border, you have a full day of driving through mountain ranges of the beautiful BC’s Canadian Rockies. You pass through Yoho National Park to Golden, and cross the Columbia River  which drains the southern BC Rockies, and then cross the Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park through the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains.

During construction to widen the Kicking Horse section of the highway, you may be detoured south through  via the 20 kilometre wide Columbia River Valley. Near Radium Hot Springs are the resort towns of Invermere, Windermere, and Fairmont Hot Springs.

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 (though there, the surrounding peaks are higher)

As you descend into the Interior of BC you arrive at Revelstoke, a city on the banks of the now-massive Columbia River system, there filled out from meltwater from the central Rockies and held back upstream by the Revelstoke Dam and  the Mica Dam.

the town wharf at Salmon Arm, on Shuswap Lake

From there, the highways winds westward past Three Valley Gap and through Eagle Pass 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 Kamloops, you head south on the fast and four-laned (twinned) Coquihalla, or west-then south on the Main #1 Route though the high plateaus of the Thomson River  to Lytton and through the Fraser Canyon past Hell’s Gate to Hope .

Fraser River Bridge connecting Hope to Trans-Canada Highway in the Fraser Canyon data-lazy-src=

Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal

From Hope, you drive westwards through the lush farmlands of the Fraser River Delta and through the suburbs (LangleySurreyNew 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.

HBC Fort at Nanaimo on the waterfront
From here, you can catch the ferry across the Georgia Straight to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. The ferry ride is typically 90 minutes. From there it’s a two-hour drive south through towns like Cowichan, Duncan, and Mill Bay to Victoria and “Mile 0” of the Trans-Canada Highway.

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.

Tofino-End Of The Trans-Canada Sign-NOT really

Tofino-End Of The Trans-Canada Sign-NOT really

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.

MacMillan Provincial Park on Vancouver Island

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 BeachPort 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.

Yellowhead Highway #16: the Northern Route

The Yellowhead Highway which follows #16 is the northern route of the Trans-Canada and connects Winnipeg and Portage La Prairie in Manitoba with key prairie cities like Saskatoon and Edmonton with important communities in north east British Columbia, and the Pacific port of Prince Rupert.

Officially, the Yellowhead Highway Begins (or ends) at Winnipeg, and it shares the route of the Trans-Canada Highway main route between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie. From there, the Yellowhead follows a northwest diagonal route through  Yorkton, Saskatoon, Lloydminster (straddling the Alberta-Saskatchewan border), EdmontonHinton, and Jasper before crossing into British Columbia.

"HopeThe first junction of interest is at Tete Jaune Cache where there is a junction with Highway5 (which cuts diagonally SW to Kamloops, and then becomes the Coquihalla down to Hope,  the Fraser Valley / Lower Mainland and Vancouver.

From Tete Jaune Cache the Yellowhead heads northwest, passing magnificent Mount Robson, and through the communities of Prince George, Smithers and Terrace before hitting Prince Rupert on the coast, before a ferry ride to Haida Gwai (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands)

More about the Yellowhead Route

Crowsnest Highway #3: the Southern Route

The #3 Crowsnest Highway follows southern railway routes close to the Canada-US border, from Medicine Hat, Alberta (where it is also the #3 highway) and passing through Lethbridge, Fort MacLeod, and  the Crowsnest Pass (both a location and a municipality)  along the southern tip of Kootenay Lake to the southern Okanagan at Osoyoosand ending at Hope, where it connects to the main Trans-Canada route into Vancouver.

"HopeFrom the east, you pass through Sparwood and Fernie and the major market centre of Cranbook. From there you head south to Creston on the south en of Kootenay Lake, and then head south toward the US border through productive farmlands and then through the Kootenay Pass (elevation 1,775 m or 5,823 ft; watch for wintertime avalanche closures here) to Salmo and Castlegar

From there you head west through Bonanza Pass (1,535 m or 5,036 ft) at Nancy Green Lake and then to Christina Lake and meander through several small towns like Grand Forks before you descend into the Okanagan Valley at Osoyoos

From Osoyoos, you head west along the very fertile Similkameen River, through Princeton, Manning Provincial Park up and over Allison Pass (elevation 1,342 m, 4403 ft), and past the Hope Slide  (pictured at left) and the Coquihalla Highway and end at Hope.

More about the Crowsnest Route

British Columbia Trans-Canada Route, Towns, and Cities Map

Here is a map of the Trans-Canada Highway and towns along or near the route:

Cities along the Trans-Canada HighwayCity

Town along the Trans-Canada HighwayTown

History of the Trans-Canada HighwayItinerary

Transcanada Highway HistoryHistory

Trans-Canada Highway FerriesFerry

Trans-Canada Highway Tours & DetoursTour

British Columbia Road Trip Planner (Explore our directory)

Look for what to see & do, and where to stay in BC and cities/regions within it.  First click on the LOCALE to search, then use the CATEGORY filter on the left side for the feature of interest!

Visit BC Rockies

BC Rockies

Visit British Columbia

British Columbia

Visit Fraser Valley, BC

Fraser Valley

Visit Shuswap-Okanagan


Visit Vancouver BC


Visit Victoria