The #3 Crowsnest Highway is a southern route for the Trans-Canada, running east-west but closer to the US-Canada border than the main #1 route. This route connects mid-sized communities including Lethbridge, AB, Cranbrook BC, Osoyoos (in the south end of the Okanagan), with Hope, and Vancouver. It stretches 1,161 km (721 mi) across the southern portions of both provinces, between Hope and Medicine Hat. In British Columbia, the route is mostly mountainous. In Alberta the route quickly exits the mountains and is most lightly hilled prairie. In the prairies, the highway forms part of the Red Coat Trail which continues east of Lethbridge into Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The route passes through the Crowsnest Pass, named for its beautiful Crowsnest Mountain, just east of the Alberta/British Columbia border, which rises to 2485m (8152 ft) to the north of the highway. The Crowsnest Pass itself, on the Alberta-BC border, rises to an elevation of 1358 m (4455 ft) above sea level.
Hope, BC is a major transportation connection point for #1 north up the Fraser River canyon, the #8 Coquihalla Highway express route to Kamloops, and the #3 Crowsnest east to the Okanagan, and the #7 Lougheed highway on the north bank of the Lower Fraser River, and the #1 TransCanada west along the south bank of the Lower Fraser River into the Greater Vancouver area.
What are the Highest Points along the Crowsnest Route?
The highest point of the Crowsnest Route is Kootenay Pass elevation 1,775 m or 5,823 ft, between Castlegar and Creston. and the second highest point is Bonanza Pass elevation 1,535 m or 5,036 ft), west of Castlegar at Nancy Green Lake. Anarchist Summit elevation 1,233 m or 4,045 ft, east of Osoyoos is not really a pass but a high point in the roadway cresting a high plateau.
By comparison, the highest points along the #1 main Trans-Canada route are the Kicking Horse Pass (dividing the Pacific and the Atlantic basins) is 1,627 m, and the Rogers Pass in the middle of the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges is 1,350 m.
Which is the shortest route?
While on a map it looks shorter than the #1, which curves north to Kamloops, Revelstoke, Golden and Calgary, the #3 Crowsnest Route is actually longer because it follows a winding path through mountain river valleys, and most of the route is 2 lanes, meaning you travel at the speed of the slowest vehicle ahead of you.
- #1 is 1110 km and 12 hours drive via #5 Coquihalla.
- 1183 km and 13 hours via Fraser Canyon #1
- 1166 km and 14 hours via #3 Crowsnest
For cyclists that 50 km is at least a half-day more of pedalling.
Crownsest Highway Route Map