3 drives that will give you a taste of what British Columbia has to offer this spring and summer
If you are a car enthusiast, you probably already know that BC is one of the top driving-destinations in Canada. And there’s good reason. Canada has the 7th largest network of roads in the world and BC offers unparalleled beauty and diversity, there’s no lack of options.
Here are 3 drives, that will give you a taste of what British Columbia has to offer. Especially if you have a little gasoline in your veins.
The Sea to Sky Highway
Vancouver to Whistler and Pemberton
Flanked by the crystal blue waters of Howe Sound and seemingly endless, formidable, mountainous terrain, this is perhaps the most aptly named stretch of road in the Province. But it is more likely the ease of access to this stunning stretch of road, that will put it at the top of many Vancouverites’ lists. It snakes its way up from West Vancouver, through Horseshoe Bay and Squamish, leading you on a 120-kilometre trek to Whistler. Another 35 kilometres of scenic sensory bliss and you will find yourself in Pemberton.
But what makes this particular route such a mecca for driving enthusiasts? Is it driveability? Definitely. But it’s also its proximity to Vancouver, Canada’s supercar capital, and the fact that it connects drivers to Whistler, BC, one of the top resort destinations on the planet.
On Saturday, May 5th and 6th, 2018, hundreds of supercars and their owners and thousands of car enthusiasts, will descend once again, on this pristine stretch of road, for the Hublot Diamond Rally. This yearly, 2-day event is the signal to Vancouver’s supercar community that driving season has arrived once again. Participants are encouraged to decorate their cars with decals and to raise money for the charity of their choice.
If supercars aren’t your thing, there are a number of other rally’s, club meets, and auto group events throughout the year. One of our favourites is the Sea to Sky All British Meet, which enjoys its fifth iteration on September 22nd, 2018. This meet will see classic Jags and Mini’s fender to fender with Range Rovers and Rolls Royces making their way up to Whistler and it’s a great way to close out summer. Maybe this year we will see you there!
Starting Point: Vancouver
Length: 155 kilometres
Time: 1.5 hours to 2 days
Must See Stops: Britannia Beach, Shannon Falls Provincial Park, the Stawamus Chief, Squamish, Sea to Sky Gondola, Whistler Blackcomb.
The Pacific Rim Highway
Vancouver to Tofino with a small detour
With Tofino laying claim to the title of surf capital of Canada the temptation to jump in an old Volkswagen bus, fill the roof with surfboards, and head out on the open road might seem to make sense. But did you know that with just a slight adjustment to your itinerary and route, you can take in the full enjoyment of this scenic route and make a stop at Canada’s only year-round motorsports facility?
A departure from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver will usually shave about 55 minutes off of your sailing time and land you at the Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo. If you prefer to embark from Tsawassen, they have regular sailings to Duke Point in Nanaimo as well. Take a hard left and head south on the island highway when you arrive and 30 minutes drive time will see you trackside.
Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit is the perfect mid-trip distraction for driving enthusiasts traversing Vancouver Island in search of big scenery and big waves. With “Circuit Experiences” ranging anywhere in price from $159.00 to $995.00 (add $595 and you can even bring the VW bus and rent a course race car) the Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit has an experience for almost any budget.
Once you’ve satisfied your need for speed just zip back up the Island Highway until you reach exit 60 to highway 4 (also known as the Pacific Rim Highway). Continue on for another 156 kilometres and you will pass through the spectacular old growth forests of Cathedral Grove provincial park and drive on to Port Alberni. We recommend a pit stop at The Bare Bones for some fish and chips. Go for the panko breaded halibut if you do, it’s life changing!
The last winding leg of your journey will lead you through Sproat and Kennedy lakes and right to the junction between Euclulet and Tofino. Turn right and continue on for the final 26 kilometre stretch of your journey through Pacific Rim National Park where on your left you will get your first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean at the Incinerator Rock parking lot at Long Beach. Just a few more minutes behind the wheel and you will arrive at the shores of Tofino Village spectacularly nestled in the heart of Clayoquot Sound. Your adventure is only just beginning…
Starting Point: Vancouver
Length: 430 kilometres
Time: 1 to 3 days
Essential Stops: MacMillan Provincial Park, Ucluelet Aquarium, the Wild Pacific Trail, Pacific Rim National Park, Long Beach, Clayoquot Sound
Sparkling Hill to Spirit Ridge
Vernon to Lake Country and Osoyoos
Adorned with crystals and perched atop a granite bluff overlooking Lake Okanagan, Sparkling Hill Resort is the perfect starting point for a meandering drive through BC’s interior. Of course, don’t depart from this modern oasis of well being without first having sampled some of this premier destination spa’s world class offerings. We recommend leaving in the morning so you can hit as many stops as possible.
A short drive will link you up with Highway 97 leading you on a traverse through Lake Country and Oyama flanked by Kalamalka Lake’s turquoise blue waters. Forty more minutes of driving and you will pass through Kelowna. Stop in for lunch or dinner at one of downtown Kelowna’s first-class restaurants. Raudz Regional table, Bouchons Bistro, and The Naked Cafe are all great choices or just pull in for a wine tasting and bite at one of the Okanagan Valley’s wine tasting rooms. Another hour and 15 minutes drive through Peachland and Penticton and you will finally arrive at Canadian motorsport’s newest playground.
Boasting Canada’s hottest and driest climate, Osoyoos was a natural choice for a race track. Area 27 is a hidden gem located just 15 minutes East of Olliver BC’s Golden Mile. Designed by Canadian Formula One racing legend Jacques Villeneuve, phase 1 of initial construction on track kicked off in February 2016. Eight months later on August 30th, founders enjoyed their first laps. The F1 calibre track’s 4.8-kilometre circuit mixes natural elevation changes and sixteen seat grabbing turns on what is arguably one the top tracks in North America.
Academy 27 offers instruction from top-tier instructors for drivers looking to enhance their skills and test their limits. Members get special pricing of course but 2.5 day and 1-day instructional courses are open to the public.
Starting Point: Vernon
Length: 150 kilometres
Time: 1 to 3 days
Essential Stops: Sparkling Hill, Spirit Ridge Desert Center, Gyro Beach, Knox Mountain, Mission Hill Winery
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Nope. I was born here, and have travelled this province extensively. The BEST drive is about to be flooded for NO reason – the Site C dam area. SPECTACULAR,, two lanes each direction, like the OLD Sea To Sky for over 100 KMs with almost NOTHING on it. 2nd for me is SOUTH from Nelson to the US Border via Christina Lake. Third would be Pacific Rim.
From Sparkling Hill a much more engaging drive is Commonage to Carr’s Landing to Okanagan Centre and finally down Glenmore to Kelowna! Beautiful views, great twisting asphalt a very fun road.
If you want an even better route take Westside Road from Vernon to West Kelowna!!
Amazing picturesque scenery! Will have to make our way out there! Thanks for the post.
The drives in the article are often too crowded for rewarding driving. The best drive in BC was left off the list. The Yellowhead Highway from Terrace to Prince Rupert is 150km of awe inspiring scenery as you go from mountains to ocean. A stick shift and an epic soundtrack whilst coming out of the curves is pure heaven.
Runners up include the Crow’s Nest through the Rockies, the Yellowhead on Haida Gwaii, and even the Lougheed from Mission to Harrison.
I agree with all the other drives in the comments. BC is filled with so many amazing roads and routes that it’s near impossible to narrow it down to one. The one thing that’s for sure is that we are definitely lucky to live somewhere with such diverse landscapes and terrain!
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