Slow your roll along the Trans-Canada

Take time for these top stops along Highway 1

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Rainforest to Rockies logo

With its wide lanes and wide views, Highway 1—a.k.a. the Trans-Canada—is an undeniably expeditious route between the Pacific Ocean and Rocky Mountains. But there are plenty of good reasons to slow your roll. Here are six top stops along the way.

Rufous Hummingbird | Kris Cu

Bird watching in Surrey

Leave Vancouver and cross the mighty Fraser River via the Port Mann Bridge towards the thriving city of Surrey. Situated on the Pacific Flyway migratory route that stretches from Alaska to South America, and home to more than 200 unique bird species, it offers year-round bird-watching opportunities. Check out the online BC Bird Trail for self-guided birding itineraries in the area, or book a guided walking tour with nature photographer Kris Cu.


Breakfast or brews in the Fraser Valley

Ya gotta eat, and depending on when the hunger hits, you have choices. Just 45 minutes beyond Surrey, Blackberry Kitchen is a great breakfast stop: at Abbotsford, turn off the Trans-Canada at Exit 73 and follow the signs to Mission to find this charming restaurant inside a log cabin at the Fraser River Heritage Park. Fuel up while enjoying tranquil views of the Fraser Valley from the large outdoor patio. Looking for a late lunch? It’s definitely worth the short detour off the highway at Exit 116 to visit Farmhouse Brewing in Chilliwack—about an hour’s drive past Surrey. It’s a bucolic venue, serving up award-winning craft beers, family-friendly games and delicious wood-fired pizza in a spacious barn. Keep an eye out for Monty, the Instagram-famous farm dog who likes to greet guests with a paw shake.

Downtown Kamloops | Tanya Goehring

The Back Alley Art Walk in Kamloops

Five hours north of Vancouver on Highway 1, the small city of Kamloops is located halfway between rainforest and Rockies at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers. Here you’ll find the perfect excuse to stop and stretch your legs: the downtown Back Alley Art Walk, featuring more than 30 dramatic wall murals in a variety of artistic styles. You can download a free self-guided tour, or book a guided tour year-round to learn more details and fun facts about the quirky outdoor exhibition.

Salmon Arm Wharf | @miraecampbell

The Salmon Arm Wharf

Just 100 km east of Kamloops is Salmon Arm, quaint home to Marine Peace Park and the largest wooden wharf in North America. Stretching 134 m into the fresh waters of Shuswap Lake, the historic wharf is a prime location for bird- and people-watching. Grab a snack at the park concession and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the nearby nature trails before hitting the road once again.

Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort | Ryan Creary

The Via Ferrata near Golden

Talk about peak vacation: the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a thrilling diversion after long days of driving. Italian for “iron path,” a Via Ferrata is a protected climbing route that allows people of all abilities to harness themselves to a steel cable that is attached to a steep rockface—giving the expression “buckle up” a whole new meaning. The dramatic mountain views are well worth the price of admission, which includes a climbing experience matched to your abilities, access to the sightseeing gondola and alpine hiking trails, and a tour of the Grizzly Bear Refuge.

Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park | Dave Heath

Yoho National Park

Highway 1 runs right through the centre of Yoho National Park, on the western slopes of the Continental Divide near the BC/Alberta border. Spring for a day pass and enjoy a gentle three-hour return (6-km) hike through fragrant forest to glacial Sherbrooke Lake—guaranteed to be far less crowded (but no less impressive!) than the better-known trail to Emerald Lake. Good to know: the trailhead is only signed and accessed in one direction (westbound) off the Trans-Canada. Be prepared: Dress for the trail conditions—weather changes frequently in the mountains—and always carry bear spray in the backcountry.

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