BC’s 5 Best Road Trip Routes

May 2, 2021

CATEGORY: Road Trips

British Columbia is interesting, vast and beautiful. Every corner of the province offers dramatic natural attractions, gorgeous panoramic views, or unique cultural experiences that make it very worthy of a spot on your bucket list.

British Columbia may not be welcoming travelers at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to begin planning your future road trip! There are many different British Columbia road trip options that will take you to a variety of different stunning spots and memorable experiences, making the actual planning part (and daydreaming about it!) a blast.

Whether you want to explore by the sea, take it slow and sip your way around wineries, or stay up late chasing the northern lights, these road trip routes show off some of the best that BC has to offer!

Cars driving down a mountainous road

The Sea-to-Sky Highway

This stretch of twisting road between Vancouver and Whistler really earns its name – the Sea-to-Sky Highway! Experience fantastic blue waters on one side and soaring cliffs on the other. The highway passes by waterfalls, rivers, canyons, and mountains, as well as several small towns. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the tourist attraction signs, as you’ll surely want to stop at them along the way.

This short road trip can take a day to complete, or it is easily extendable into multiple days if you really want to take your time!

Suspension bridge overlooking mountains and a lake

Road Trip Highlights

  • In Vancouver, take the time to explore Stanley Park, see amazing marine life at the Vancouver Aquarium, and wander the historic Gastown
  • In North Vancouver, walk 450ft above ground across the iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge
  • Head to West Vancouver for picturesque views of Howe Sound
  • Stop at Horseshoe Bay for fish and chips, and to relax and watch the ferries sailing in and out of port
  • Porteau Cove Provincial Park is a popular scuba diving destination. It has artificial shipwrecks and reefs that support hundreds of species of marine life, such as octopus, lingcod, and starfish.
  • Visit the Britannia Mine Museum National Historic Site. Board a mining train and travel deep into an old mining tunnel. Pan for gold, engage in interactive exhibits and see historic mining equipment.
  • You can’t miss the infamous Sea to Sky Gondola! Catch a ride to the top and enjoy beautiful, panoramic views of Howe Sound.
  • Visit Squamish, the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada”. Here you can mountain bike, windsurf, hike and more!
  • Take the time to drink some of Squamish’s locally brewed beer and delicious food
  • Travel to Brackendale and go on an Eagle Safari where you can sail down the Squamish River while keeping your eyes peeled for bald eagles
  • Once you arrive in Whistler, depending on the time of year you decide to visit you can cross-country ski, hike, mountain bike, downhill ski and snowboard
  • In Whistler you can take the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and experience activities on both of Whistler’s mountains.
  • Explore Whistlers pedestrian-only village
  • Learn about the local First Nations at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

Mountains and a blue lake from above

Road Trip Route

Starting in Vancouver, you can head along Highway 99 north towards Whistler.

Highway 99 is also called the Fraser Delta Thruway south of Vancouver, the Sea to Sky Highway, the Squamish Highway, and Whistler Highway.

Road Trip Length

Depends on how long you want to spend on this road trip! For a multi-day journey, Squamish is a great place to book overnight accommodation.

Without stopping, you can get to Whistler in just over an hour and a half, but you will want to take in all this highway has to offer –  which means you will probably be stopping a lot!

Things to Note

Optional: For a different route back to Vancouver, follow Highway 99 north to Pemberton, which has breathtaking paragliding opportunities. Continue north to Lillooet; the stretch of Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet is also known as Duffey Lake Road and features dazzling roadside scenery. Highlights include hiking at Nairn Falls Provincial Park.

Optional: From Lillooet you can head south down the Fraser Canyon via Highway 12 and then Highway 1 back to Vancouver.

It’s important to note that the Sea-to-Sky highway is extremely popular among locals and visitors, and it is very busy in the summer! Spring and fall are the best times to visit if you want to avoid the crowds.

Vancouver Island

This Vancouver Island road trip can be done anywhere from one to five days. This route is a great choice for foodies, beach bums, nature explorers, and wine connoisseurs.

The best way to experience the West Coast’s west coast is at your own pace, so take the time to wander and take in the sights, sounds and scents of this amazing road trip. It features many of the delights that BC has to offer, all within just a few hours of driving.

People camping on a beach

Road Trip Highlights

  • Stroll around the Inner Harbour, the beautiful centre of downtown Victoria and see two of Victoria’s most beautiful buildings, the Legislative Building, and the Empress Hotel.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-see! Stroll along docks and enjoy the colourful and vibrant floating homes. Shop in the quirky shops owned by locals and eat at the small floating restaurants that serve everything from fresh seafood to ice cream.
  • Visit the world-renowned Butchart Gardens. With over 900 plant varieties, it is certainly a flower-lover’s paradise.
  • Go whale watching in Cowichan Bay
  • See over 40 totem poles in Duncan and shop for fresh produce at the Duncan Farmers Market
  • Explore scenic beaches and parks, hike the Juan de Fuca Trail, go kayaking or stand-up-paddle boarding
  • Explore Sooke Potholes Provincial Park
  • Take a tour of Sheringham Distillery and discover their award-winning Seaside Gin
  • Go ziplining above the trees of Sooke
  • Learn about B.C.’s history at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, a National Historic Site
  • Tour the grounds of famed Hatley Castle, best known for its appearances in Hollywood films like Deadpool and X-Men.

Victorias Inner Harbour

Road Trip Route

This road trip is sometimes called the Pacific Marine Circle Route and is the perfect trip to see everything Southern Vancouver Island has to offer. Starting in Victoria, on Vancouver Island’s southern tip, this route is a loop, so you will also end your adventure in Victoria.

From Victoria you will drive up to Cowichan Bay, head to Duncan, then continue along the Pacific Marine Circle Route to Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew and Sooke. After that you’ll end up back in Victoria!

Another charming town you might want to add to your itinerary, if you have time, is Sidney.

Road Trip Length

This road trip route is about 255 kilometers and can be spread out anywhere from 1 to 3 days, depending on how long you want to spend exploring each area.

Things to Note

To get to Victoria from Vancouver, you must take a ferry. BC Ferries offers 90-minute sailings to Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal from the Tsawwassen terminal (approximately 45 minutes south of downtown Vancouver).

Ferries run often and take both vehicles and walk-on passengers.

Mountains & Vineyards

The Mountains & Vineyards Circle Route is really all about indulgence and treating yourself. This drive will take you to wine country with a visit to a couple hot springs resorts. This drive to BC’s southeast takes visitors along the lakes and vineyards of the Okanagan Valley, through Canada’s only true desert, and past the peaks and glaciers of the Rocky Mountains. Championship golf courses, lift-accessed hiking and mountain biking, historic towns, mountains resorts and, of course, hot springs and wineries, will make you want to stay here forever.

A glass of wine sitting on a surface overlooking a vineyard and lake

Road Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy the thrill of whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River
  • Watch for birds in the world-renowned Columbia Wetlands
  • Ride the gondola to the top of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for panoramic mountain views and enjoy a memorable meal at Canada’s highest restaurant, the Eagle’s Eye
  • Be amazed by Takakkaw Falls, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls
  • See the beautiful jewel-coloured Emerald Lake, visit the Natural Bridge, and/or view the Spiral Tunnels
  • Play golf on top-rated 18-hole championship courses with beautiful mountain landscapes.
  • Stop for a relaxing soak at either Radium or Fairmont Hot Springs
  • In Kimberley, see the world’s largest, free-standing cuckoo clock and explore the Platzl, a pedestrian area filled with unique shops and restaurants.
  • In Cranbrook, explore the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel
  • The Columbia Gardens Vineyard & Winery offers guided tours and tastings.
  • In Oliver, Canada’s Wine Capital, a tour of local wineries is a must, because there are more than 20 in the area!
  • In Summerland, be sure to play a round of golf at one of the area’s numerous championship golf courses
  • In Kelowna, visit the BC Orchard Industry Museum and BC Wine Museum (and the beaches too, of course)
  • Cruise into the picturesque Shuswap Lake area. You’ll find many opportunities to swim, camp, fish, boat, hike, or bike
  • Stop in the quaint city of Revelstoke and tour the Revelstoke Railway Museum
  • Go through five long tunnels and experience amazing mountain scenery while driving along Rogers Pass

a lake and mountain view at sunset

Road Trip Route

This road trip travels in a big circle! Starting and ending in Golden, head east on Highway 1 and you’ll find Yoho National Park, then continue to Radium and Fairmont Hot Springs. Continue onwards south to Kimberley and once you reach Salmo, drive north on Highway 6 to historic Nelson. Continue from Nelson to the Okanagan, and then return to Golden via Revelstoke. This all depends on when and where you are planning to stop. And don’t hesitate to take some detours to make the most of this adventure!

Road Trip Length

For this road trip it is best to take your time and see the sights and drink all the wine you can! You will be driving about 1260 kilometers and this could take anywhere from 7 to 10 days making it a great length for a memorable getaway!

Hot Springs

Journey from enchanting hot springs to Rocky Mountain wilderness. This Hot Springs Route through BC’s Kootenay Rockies region visits multiple hot springs, from lavish resorts to secret springs in the woods. Drive through some of the world’s most beautiful lake and mountain views, with plenty of railway history, wildlife viewing, and outdoor adventure!

Hot spring pools in the mountains

Road Trip Highlights

  • Visit Kimberley Nature Park, the biggest municipal park in BC offers hiking for every skill level
  • Take a dip into Fairmont’s year-round, crystal clear hot springs pools
  • Experience the Fairmont Resort and take advantage of 45 scenic holes of golf, access to hiking and biking trails, spa services, and skiing in the winter
  • Enjoy your second hot springs in Radium, one of the largest hot spring mineral pools in Canada
  • Stop in Invermere on the Lake and enjoy a swim or a paddle
  • Visit Yoho National Park, and see powerful waterfalls, an abundance of wildlife and ancient fossil beds
  • Visit Canyon Hot Springs, home to two natural mineral hot pools to ease muscles sore from travelling
  • Drive to alpine meadows in Mount Revelstoke National Park and head to Revelstoke Mountain Resort to ride the thrilling Pipe Mountain Coaster!
  • Wander the Enchanted Forest and visit the ghost town of 3 Valley Gap
  • Stop at the Halcyon Hot Springs which features four mineral-rich pools and overlooks Upper Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains.
  • In the village of Nakusp, walk the lakeside Waterfront Walkway and then relax in the soothing hot springs, in the Kuskanax Valley in the foothills of the Selkirk Mountains
  • New Denver and Silverton sit on the shore of Slocan Lake, where you can explore museums, artisan studios, and plenty of outdoor activity options such as hiking or mountain biking
  • Explore the quaint village of Kaslo and visit its sites, like the S.S. Moyie, the Langham Cultural Centre, and Fletcher Falls
  • Enjoy Kokanee Creek Provincial Park’s sandy beaches, tall trees, great camping, and sapphire lakes
  • Visit yet another hot spring! Ainsworth Hot Springs has a large lounging pool and other unique features
  • Take a guided caving tour of the Cody Caves
  • Sail on the free Kootenay Lake ferry, the longest free ferry ride in the world, and drive to Crawford Bay. This charming arts community with plenty of unique, local shops
  • Creston is home to four wineries, so sampling must be on your agenda

Road Trip Route

Begin your tour in Cranbrook then drive north along Highway 95A to Kimberley. Continue north on Highway 93/95 to Fairmont Hot Springs. Once you’re done in Fairmont continue onto Golden then take Highway 1 to Rogers Pass then continue east to Revelstoke. Drive south on Highway 23 to Halcyon and Nakusp hot springs and then continue to New Denver. Follow Highway 31A to Kaslo. Continue south along Highway 31 to Ainsworth Hot Springs and the Kootenay Lake Ferry. Travel south on Highway 3A to Creston and then finally from Creston, it’s about a 75-minute drive back to your starting point of Cranbrook. Take your time to take it all in!

Road Trip Length

This road trip is best taken in seven days, as you’ll drive about 851 kilometers! You’ll definitely want to take your time and stop a lot along the way.

Northern Lights

This is the longest British Columbia road trip, but it is also a big bucket list item for many people!

This route is home to plenty of wildlife, and you might be lucky enough to see sheep, moose, grizzly and black bears. This adventure also features natural hot springs pools, ancient totem poles, great fishing, glaciers, the Northern Lights, First Nations culture, and Fur Trade history.

The route starts and finishes in Prince George, and even has a couple stops in Yukon. If you want to do this road trip specifically for the Northern Lights, the best time to see them are from December to March.

Colorful northern lights and a sky full of stars

Road Trip Highlights

  • Experience the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park, the only inland temperate rainforest in the world
  • Have a drink at the Northern Lights Estate Winery, BC’s northernmost winery, which offers tours and tastings with views of the river
  • If you want to fish, Moberly Lake is home to northern pike, lake trout, and ling cod. Azouzetta, Gwillim, Jackfish, and Moose lakes are also popular fishing spots
  • Stop at breathtaking Bijoux Falls before heading to Chetwynd
  • Travel to Hudson’s Hope, known as the Land of the Dinosaurs, and see the dinosaur fossil and footprint collection at the Hudson’s Hope Museum
  • Hike to see fossilized dinosaur footprints at the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark, or spend the day hiking some of Hudson’s Hope spectacular trails
  • Visit “Mile 0″ of the historic Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek
  • Dawson Creek is a great place to spend a night with your eyes to the sky looking for Northern Lights
  • Stop at the famous signpost forest in Watson Lake, Yukon. Almost 68,000 license plates, road shields and homemade signs are displayed here
  • Make sure to stop at the beautiful Cascade Falls
  • Visit the rustic town of Stewart on the BC/Alaska border. Along the way, you’ll pass Bear Glacier, one of the few roadside blue glaciers in the world.
  • Visit Toastworks, a museum dedicated to toasters! It’s also a great place to get breakfast
  • Relive history on an interpretive walking trail at Battle Hill National Historic Site
  • Visit the world-renowned ‘Ksan Historical Village. Learn about Gitxsan history and culture, and see traditional totem carvers at work
  • Near Smithers, stop to see the raging rapids of Moricetown Canyon and the thundering Twin Falls
  • Explore the Fort St. James National Historic Site and see a re-created Hudson’s Bay trading post
  • Get out of the cities late at night to hopefully see more of the northern lights!

A lot of road signs and license plates displayed outside

Road Trip Route

This route starts and finishes in Prince George. From Prince George drive north on Highway 97 to scenic Pine Pass and head to Chetwynd. Continue north on Highway 97 to Fort St. John and from the town of Dease Lake, head south down Highway 37. From Stewart, travel south to the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and Highway 16. Continue south to Smithers to finish the circle route, return to Prince George via Highway 16 east.

Road Trip Length

This journey is worth taking your time and can be easily stretched out over at least ten days! You’ll drive about 3,190 kilometres.

Things to Note

December to March is usually the best time to see the lights, as the skies are the darkest and most clear. The time of night when the light appears varies, but usually between 10 pm and 2 am is your best bet.

Someone hiking on the edge of a mountain

There is obviously so much to see and do throughout BC and we hope this road trip guide to BC will help you plan your trip to Beautiful British Columbia when the time is right!

Have you seen our Alberta Road Trip Routes blog post? Be sure to check that one out, too!


START PLANNING YOUR ROAD TRIP GETAWAY TODAY

There is no shortage of gorgeous roads to travel in BC! When you’re ready to explore a new or favorite destination and make your travel dreams come true, contact one of our TierOne Travel agents. They have extensive experience in life-changing travel and will be able to craft something incredible that is suited to your unique needs.

One call; endless experiences!

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous

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