Our itineraries have many, many features detailed along the way (with links to local community pages, with even more detail!), and our highway history points out intesting details about the higheay, rock cuts, bridges and local geology.
Here are our picks for must-see attractions along the way, organized from east to west:
St John's, Newfoundland
It's the most eastern end of this continent, and there is northing but oceans and occasional icebergs & whales to be seen from this high bluff. Time: 1/2 to full hour. [More]
west of Corner Brook, Newfoundland
Deep Fiords that are the result of a long-ago collision between North America & Africa, exposing some of the oldest rocks on earth (3 billion years old). This can be a whole-day detour off the highway. Time: 1/2 to full day.[More]
East of Sydney, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton
About an hour east of the highway is a much fought-over and fully restored French fort that was captured by General Wolfe before he could safely proceed west to Quebec City to fight the Battle of the Plains of Abraham which gave North America to the British (there, Quebec revisionists!) Time: 1/2 Time: 1/2 to full day. [More]
southest of Sussex and Moncton, New Brunswick
Just southeast of highway from Moncton, you can drive a loop though this park ending up near Sussex. You get to see the planet's highest tides, over 50 feet (16 metres). A full tidal sweep from high tide to low takes about 6 hours. That's a nice leisurely picnic. Time: 4 to 12 hours (one tidal cycle). [More]
This one's only a kilometer off the highway, Hartland, New Brunswick
These endangered wooden structures kept the bridges snow-free in winter, and reduced rot so they lasted much longer. This is the world's longest, at 391 metres (1282 ft) across the Saint John River. Time: 1/2 hour. [More]
Along the South shore of St Lawrence River, between Riviere du Loup and Quebec city.
This road runs along the south bank of the river and contains many tiny charming and 400 year old villages. The farms, with their hundreds of years old stone farm houses, are all on narrow ribbons rising up a gentle slope from the river, granted under the French colonial Seigneural system. Historic Route 132 continues west of Quebec city. Time: 1/2 to full day detour. [More]
just north of Trans-Canada at Levis
The fortress, boardwalk and Chateau Frontenac hotel are all worth seeing. Heading down the quaint Rue de Tresor with its many shops and restaurants is a trip into this city's history and French charm. The city celebrated 400 years of settlement. Visitors should expect to speak French here, so bring a guidebook or dictionary. Time: 1/2 to full day. [More]
Ottawa, Ontario about 3 km north of the 417 highway
It's the nation's capital! Tour the Parliament buildings (depending on the seasonal line-ups), and stop at the Peace Flame on the lawn, and watch the summertime Changing of the Guard. Nearby, there is lots to do, in the Byward Market area, with its farmers market, shops, restaurants and nightlife. The area has many national museums (the National Gallery, beside the old Mint, has one of the best collections of Group of Seven artists). To the east, is 24 Sussex Drive, the home of the Prime Minister and very close by is Rideau Hall, the Governor General's residence. To the west is the National Library, the Bank of Canada, and the National War Museum. Time: 1/2 to full day. [More]
Gatineau, Quebec, across river from Parliament buildings
This museum has the best collection of First Nations artifacts, and history of early explorers and national development. Time: 1/2 to full day. [More]
Copper Cliff, just west of Sudbury, north side of highway
Its the world's tallest smokestack, built in the 1970s by INCO to throw the hydrogen sulfide emissions (that had killed many of the area's trees and po;luted many of the area's lakes) high into the atmosphere. Nowadays, the mine's smelter "scrubs" the emissions before they leave the stack. You can see slag heaps flowing with molten metal from the roadway. A tree-planting program has restored much of the area's forests. Time: 1/2 hour to full day (tour). [More]
South end of Thunder Bay
This is one of the most historically significant trading posts run by the Hudson's Bay Company. After the French fur traders and voyageurs canoed all the way from Montreal across the Great Lakes, Fort William was their base for trade across the vast Prairies. Time: 1/2 to full day. [More]
Drumheller, about an hour north of the highway, and about a half-day detour.
This museum interprets the history of the planet, and animal & plant life on it using fossils uncovered in Alberta, in the canyons just west of the city, and the dinosaur beds east of the city (which are a UNESCO World Heritage site). But if you had to stop in just one spot, we recommend the museum. Especially if your are travelling with kids. Or Sarah Palin. Time: full day detour. [More]
A short drive up the hill, 7 km west of the Trans-Canada.
This lake is stunning, a beautiful blue-green cradled between high mountain peaks covered in glaciers. You can enjoy a well-prepared meal at the Chateau Lake Louise, though the more fit visitors will take a 3 kilometre hike up to the Teahouse, passing a couple of small lakes and waterfalls to get an even better view to the Lake from above. An hour's detour with a look, a half day with the hike. [More] Time: 1/2 hour to half hour.
Just west of Continental Divide, British Columbia
When the trans-continental railway was built, it followed the steep path that is now used by the highway, which drops 2,000 feet in just a few miles. After a few fatal crashes, the CPR built two Spiral Tunnels just west of the Continental Divide to reduce the slope of the railway. There's an observation point with good parking on the north side of the highway and trains pass by every half hour, you won't wait long to observe one part of the train leaving the tunnel the end of it is entering right below (or above) the other end. For history entusiasts, between Revelstoke & Sicamous, about 350km ot the west, is Craigellachie, with the last spike on the Candian Pacafic railroad. [More] Time: one hour between trains... closed in winter.
Downtown Vancouver, south of the Upper Levels Highway
This is one of the largest urban parks in the world, has a great view of downtown Vancouver, the north shore mountains, and the Lion's Gate Bridge. You can rent a bike or inline skates to take the 8km Seawall around the park. There are three beaches one the southwest edge of the park (First Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach) [More] Time: 1/2 to full day.