The Top 3 Drives in British Columbia

Driving to Tofino

 A Canadian Roadtrip – The Top 3 Drives in British Columbia

A backpacker doesn’t often find himself, or herself if I’m being gender correct, behind the wheel of a car.  Generally we are strapped into a seatbelt free seat somewhere in the back of a bus far too crowded for comfort that is driving either absurdly fast, or painfully slow.  Our poor bodies take beatings from the rough conditions of the roads, while our minds suffer from the mental exercise of lengthy boredom.  So when I recently had the chance to road trip across Western Canada I had some fun.  I’ll admit that there were times that I drove over the speed limit.  I’ll admit there were times that I may have believed that I was still in South America and hit the horn a few too times.  And I’ll admit that I had one hell of a great time weaving the car through the winding roads of British Columbia; nothing beats a good old fashioned Canadian roadtrip.  Listed below are my three favourite drives in British Columbia, Canada.

3. The Okanagan Highway:

Looking onto Osoyoos, in the Okanagan Valley

Looking onto Osoyoos, in the Okanagan Valley

Highway 97 south of Vernon to the town of Osoyoos carves its way through a valley in central British Columbia known as the Okanagan Valley.  Along the drive you will pass through rich vineyards ripe with grapes.  Many of the orchards offer stop in wine tastings.  Further along orchards ripe with trees sprouting apples, oranges, and many other fruits hold fruit stands roadside.  The highway winds along the narrow but vast lakes of the Okanagan which act as a playground in the summer months.  Kelowna and Penticton are the two most vibrant cities and serve as the hat and the shoes for Okanagan Lake itself.  But beware, in Okanagan Lake rumours continue to whirl about a Loch Ness Monster like creature known as the OgoPogo.

2. The Sea to Sky Highway:

Fall in Whistler, canadian roadtrip

Fall in Whistler

This highway is aptly named.  Highway 99 north out of the city of Vancouver stretches over to the pacific coastline as it veers and hangs off the cliff walls before reaching Squamish and pushing up into the sky towards the town of Whistler.  Although the speed limit signs read speeds of between 60 and 90 one can only try to resist the urge to push the limits of the law in order to feel the pull of G-forces sucking your car around the corners.  The views of the islands on the sea portion are worth the trip alone, but the stretch into the mountains only makes this highway even more spectacular.

1. Vancouver Island Connector

Tofino is Vancouver Island’s premier beach destination.  However to get there you will have to cross highway 4 from Ladysmith.  Luckily for you the trip is absolutely spectacular. Basically, if crossing the country, this is the last piece of your Canadian roadtrip, and perhaps the most beautiful section in the country.  The road cross through unique villages such as Coombs, which is famous for having goats on the roof of the local market, and amazing natural sites such as Cathedral Grove which boasts some of the island’s largest Douglas Fir trees at over 68m high.  Beyond Port Alberni the road really becomes fun as the highway will take you through the central mountains of Vancouver Island.  This is a true driver’s highway as the trail twists and turns along cliff edges and down and up steep slopes.  Upon arriving to the Pacific Rim National Reserve, and Tofino itself, you will be greeted by some of Canada’s most amazing beaches and some great waves to surf.

Canadian roadtrip, What a reward to end up here after a long drive. Mackenzie Beach, Tofino

What a reward to end up here after a long drive. Mackenzie Beach, Tofino


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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7 Comments

  1. LOVED our road trip to Tofino too! And won’t forget our drive across the island in early April especially through mountain range. Some pretty narrow curves where we prayed we wouldn’t meet oncoming logging trucks and I remember a sign or two warning us to beware of slides. Your opening pic from driver’s seat reminds me of one that I took from the backseat that we included on a recent Canada road pix post at http://roadstories.ca/roadtripping-in-canada/

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  2. All great drives! Done them all, frequently. Another good one is going north from Whistler to Lillooet and Cach Creek, incredible landscapes!

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    • Ya I agree… I love the Duffy Lake Road!

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  3. I have taken all three as well…………..many years ago. I do remember how beautiful they are.

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  4. Definitely the top 3 drives, Kamloops is also scenic as well as the highway along the Canyon between Hope and Lillooet. But nothing beats the Okanogan and Vancouver Island!

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  5. Gotta be one of my fav things about a Canadian summer in BC! ROAD TRIPS!! Nothing beats driving BC’s amazing roads in a my Cabiro. The Duffy as mentioned in previous comments is mighty impressive.

    Every summer we drive the #3 Crownest Highway to a music festival in Salmo and I fall in love with BC over and over again with every turn. The #3 is amazing from Hope all the way to Alberta!

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