BC Road Trip: Calgary to Vancouver via Highway 3

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A map with a purple line indicating the route from Calgary to Vancouver via Highway 3.

Calgary to Vancouver via Highway 3. Google Maps.

The drive between Vancouver and Calgary is one for your bucket list. There are a few route options, with plenty to see no matter which way you choose to go. We asked our Facebook fans to list their favourite stops between Calgary and Vancouver via BC’s Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3). The route takes you over the mountains and into the desert, and it ends on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

1. Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

A lush, mountainous landscape under a cloudy sky.

View of Crowsnest Pass. Photo: Luke Ratslakk via Flickr

You’ll encounter the spectacularly scenic Crowsnest Pass as you head towards the BC border from Alberta. Keep an eye out for Turtle Mountain, which collapsed in 1903 causing the Frank Slide, one of the largest landslides in Canada. The Crowsnest Museum and Frank Slide Interpretive Centre are worth a look to learn more about the rich history of the area.

*Not in BC, but mentioned as a stop by many of our Facebook fans.

2. Fernie

Two hikers sit at the edge of a cliff, taking in the views of the snow-capped mountains.

Hiking in Fernie. Photo: Dave Heath

Surrounded by towering peaks, the small community of Fernie has enough big mountain adventure for everyone. Enjoy lift-accessed mountain biking at Fernie Alpine Resort, whitewater rafting, and endless hiking trails surrounding the town. Need to rest your head? Island Lake Lodge offers luxury in the mountains, and the Raging Elk Hostel is a good place to meet fellow road trippers. Grab a pint at the Kodiak Lounge and share stories of the road.

3. Cranbrook

A large crowd sits and watches a circle of RCMP officers on horseback.

Fort Steele Heritage Town. Photo: David Gluns

In need of some vitamin D? Stop in Cranbrook, home to the most sunshine in BC. Golf fanatics will enjoy the options, with more than six courses easily accessible from town. Don’t miss the Interpretive Centre at St. Eugene Golf Resort to learn about the heritage and culture of the local Ktunaxa First Nation. Take a trip to Fort Steele Heritage Town to see blacksmiths at work and catch a show at the Wildhorse Theatre.

4. Osoyoos

A family walks down a wooden boardwalk, lined on both sides by tall green grass.

Desert Society Osoyoos. Photo: Don Weixl

Osoyoos is a summer playground. Bask in the sun, jump in the lake, and snack on fruit from roadside stands. Don’t miss the Nk’Mip Desert and Cultural Centre and Desert Society Osoyoos to explore cultural exhibits and learn about desert wildlife. Check out the wineries around town and north towards Oliver, Okanagan Falls, and Penticton. Looking for adventure? Grab a bike and explore the Kettle Valley Rail Trail.

5. Manning Park

A hiker walks a small path that winds up the side of a mountain.

E.C. Manning Provincial Park. Photo: Tim Gage via Flickr

Just before you reach Vancouver, take a break at Manning Park. Explore the many hiking trails, or nestle into a cabin at Manning Park Resort. Hop in a canoe, pack a lakeside picnic, cycle the trails, or spend a peaceful afternoon fishing. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy backcountry trails to stunning meadows and peaks. Pack a tent, relax, and stay a while.

Don’t-Miss Detours

  • Nelson: This eclectic town nestled in the Selkirk Mountains is well worth the detour. Visit Ainsworth Hot Springs, and explore the Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History. The area is home to a thriving arts community. Browse local shops and farmers markets, or stop for a bite to eat along Main Street.
  • Kelowna: From Osoyoos, travel north through the Okanagan Valley to Kelowna. Laze around on the beaches of Okanagan Lake or set out on a walking tour of the Kelowna Cultural District.