This section is for those who have their own
vehicle or have rented a car. I have laid out 2 or 3 scenic
routes to follow. This page is in progress and I will add more
detail later, but I wanted to get it on line before the main
summer season started.
All drives start from the main intersection of
Georgia & Burrard Downtown. Direction in Vancouver is
relatively easy provided the weather is clear, simply remember
the mountains are to the north. I am, of course, assuming you do
have a road map.
Drive 1: Beaches &
Stanley Park Tour (2-4 hours including stops)
While this tour takes you
through Stanley Park, I would suggest you allocate a day to walk
through the Park if you have time.
Proceed West on Georgia Street and into Stanley
Park, exit onto Stanley Park Drive to your right near the Park
Entrance. The body of water on your left is Lost Lagoon and to
your right is Coal Harbour and the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.
Shortly after turning off on Park Drive you will see signs for
Vancouver Aquarium on your left. A stop here will take up about
1.5 hours of your time, but the Aquarium is well worth the visit.
Proceed along Park Drive, Coal Harbour is now
on your right and you can see the sails of Canada Place and the
cruise ship port ahead across the harbour. The road curves around
the headland and you get a view up the harbour with Second
Narrows Bridge visible in the distance. The road continues on
around and Lions Gate Bridge and First Narrows come into view.
The log structure you pass to your left is called Lumberman's
Arch, a monument to the industry on which British Columbia was
Past Lumberman's Arch, the road travels uphill
in a series of switchbacks and eventually crosses the causeway,
carrying traffic across Lions Gate Bridge. Just past this is
Prospect Point, which is worth a stop to admire the view. The
wealthy neighbourhood of West Vancouver is visible across the
Continuing on the road winds through stands of
Douglas Fir until the water once again becomes visible. If you
exit to your right at this point, a small side road takes you
down to 3rd Beach, the nicest beach in the Park. A fairly short
walk along the seawall to your right will take you to Siwash
Park Drive now continues back towards the the
Park exit. On your right is Second Beach and a little further on,
you exit into the residential West End, with 1st beach on your
right. Continue along the waterfront following Beach Avenue until
it reaches a Y-intersection with Pacific Avenue next to a stand
of Small Palm trees on your right. Stay on the left hand fork
(Pacific Ave) and follow it to Burrard Street and turn right
onto Burrard Street Bridge.
Cross Burrard Street Bridge and take the left
hand fork at the end of the Bridge and continue up to the first
major intersection, which is 4th Ave.
Turn right on 4th Ave and continue along it for
several miles until you end up entering the grounds of the
University of British Columbia. (4th Ave was Vancouver's Haight-Ashbury and the site of the hippie scene in the 60's). Be careful
to take the left hand fork in the road at Discovery Ave. as you
pass a large Park on your right. The beaches you see to your
right, you will pass on your way back.
As soon as you enter the University Grounds,
4th Avenue becomes Chancellor Blvd. Follow this until it
intersects with Crescent Road and SW Marine Drive. A short
distance past this intersection is the Museum of Anthropology
which is worth a visit if you are interested in West Coast Indian
Culture. You need to allow 40 min to an hour to see this
After leaving the museum turn left onto SW
Marine and follow it along the bluff as it becomes NW Marine
You will now past several of Vancouver's better
beaches, Spanish Banks, Locarno and Jericho. At the end of
Jericho Beach the road takes a sharp turn to the right and
becomes Discovery Ave. It then intersects 4th Ave where you have
already been. Turn left onto 4th. Follow 4th, with the park on
your left. At the end of the park turn left and follow Wallace a
couple of blocks to Pt. Grey Road. If you miss it, take Alma
Street instead. Turn right on Pt. Grey Road.
Follow Pt Grey Road past the expensive estates
on your left. Pt Grey Road eventually becomes Cornwall Ave. and
to your left you will pass Kitsilano Beach. This is probably the
nicest of all the Vancouver beaches. Continue along Cornwall onto
the Burrard Street Bridge again and back downtown.
Drive 2: Lynn Canyon,
Capilano Dam, Grouse Mountain (2-4 hours including stops)
Proceed West on Georgia and into Stanley Park.
remain on the main Causeway and cross Lions Gate Bridge.
At the end of the Bridge, follow the sign for
North Vancouver and exit off to the right onto Marine Drive.
Proceed about a mile along Marine Drive and turn left onto
Capilano Road, the first major intersection. Proceed up Capilano
Road and pass underneath the freeway. About a mile past the
freeway you will see signs for Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge.
If you want to pay and see this, go ahead, but I would just
settle for Lynn Canyon which is free.
Just past the suspension bridge on your left,
is Capilano Park Drive. At the end of this road is a Salmon
Hatchery which you may find interesting. Allow about 30 minutes.
Continuing up Capilano Drive there is a turn
off to Cleveland Dam to your left, at the point where Capilano
Drive becomes Nancy Greene Way. Its worth walking across the dam
with its view of Capilano Canyon on one side and the lake on the
other. (which happens to be the main drinking water supply for
Continuing up Nancy Greene Way, you arrive at
the parking lot for the Grouse Mountain Skyride. If it is a clear
day, its worth riding this, despite the expense. Allow an hour to
an hour and a half.
After the Skyride, retrace your steps back down
Capilano Road. Take the left hand turn immediately after passing
under the freeway, this is the east bound freeway entrance.
Proceed along the freeway to the Lynn Valley
Road exit which is located just after the freeway takes a turn to
right, exit here and proceed east along Lynn Valley Road to the
intersection with Peters. This is about a mile past the McDonalds
you will see on your left.
Turn right on Peters, which is a
Y-intersection, and follow the road into Lynn Valley park. Park
your car as close to the concession stand as you can. This is
close to the entrance to the Suspension Bridge. The Bridge is
just past the Totem pole you will see next to the parking lot.
If you are in reasonably good shape, you can
cross the Suspension Bridge and continue on down the trail on the
other side to your right, and then cross back again on the
standard bridge at the bottom of the Canyon. Here, in good
weather is a beautiful green pool. You will usually see teenagers
jumping off the bridge and cliffs into it. After crossing the
bridge you can proceed up the other side, following the river
until you reach the parking lot. Its quite a steep climb, but
there are stairs.
From Lynn Canyon, exit back out again onto Lynn
Valley Drive. Follow it back to the Freeway, head westbound and
follow the signs back to downtown Vancouver.
Drive 3: West
Vancouver, Horseshoe Bay, Sea to Sky Highway, Shannon Falls,
Cyprus Bowl (allow 4 hours or 8 hours if you continue to
Proceed west on Georgia and into Stanley Park.
remain on the Causeway and cross Lions Gate Bridge.
At the end of the bridge, do not exit, the road
will curve to the right and then pass underneath the bridge.
Proceed west on Marine Drive. Simply stay on
Marine drive for several miles as it first passes through West
Vancouver proper and then curves its way along the waterfront
with its multi-million dollar homes. Keep your eyes open for
Lighthouse Park on your left. If you have never seen giant trees,
this park is full of them. You can see several examples in only a
10 minute walk from the parking lot, so you don't have to dawdle
here too long.
Marine Drive eventually ends at Horseshoe Bay.
At the end of the road, turn right across the bridge, then left
onto Highway 99. Highway 99 is one of North America's most scenic
drives. Unfortunately the viewpoints are all on the wrong side of
the road and it can be dangerous to cross the highway to get at
them. Its best to stop at them on your way back when they are on
the right side.
About 30 minute drive on, you will come to the
village of Britannia Beach. This used to be one of the largest
copper mines in North America, and you can take a tour of them if
you wish. These mines are also the site of several X-File
episodes. A tour will take 1 to 2 hours depending on your timing.
Another 20 minutes on, watch for the sign for
Shannon Falls on your right. These are one of the worlds highest
and are especially spectacular in the spring. It will take you
about 20 minutes to walk to the falls and back from the parking
At this point you can either continue on to
Whistler, about an hour further up the road or start heading
back. If you do continue to Whistler, be sure to stop at
Brandywine falls, located on your right about 6 miles before
Whistler. These are a 10 minute walk from the highway.
Returning along Highway 99, this time stay on
the freeway when you reach Horseshoe Bay. Keep your eyes open for
the exit for the Cyprus Bowl, Hollyburn Ski area. Exit here and
proceed up the mountain to the first switchback. Located here, is
a viewpoint with an excellent view of Vancouver. There is no
point in continuing further up the mountain. Return to the
freeway and follow the signs back to downtown.
Two Day Circle Route by Car (including White Water Rafting if desired):
Follow the instructions in Drive 3 above, as far as Whistler,
you still have time to visit the attractions mentioned on the way, provided you
make an early start (8 AM or earlier). You can afford an hour or 2 in Whistler.,
as long as your back on the road by about 1 or 2 PM. Drive north to Pemberton.
Continue to the high desert country at Lillooette, and then take Highway 12 to join Highway 1
at Lytton in the Fraser Canyon. (Be careful at Pemberton, the turnoff to Lillooette is easy to miss and you can end up on
the Anderson Lake road by mistake. There is a General Store at
the junction, stop and make sure you are in the right place. ). By the way, on
the road from Pemberton to Lillooette there is a small lake on the right about
1/2 mile off the road at about the half way point. Its well past the large lake
the road parallels and past the long series of switchbacks. I can't remember its
name, but keep a watch out for the brown warning sign. Its one of the prettiest
lakes you've ever laid your eyes on, back-dropped by a glacier. Put lots of bug
spray on, though.
Stay in the Town of Lytton overnight. This is the hottest
place in Canada (in summer), so make sure you have Air Conditioning. Here is
your opportunity to River raft. Fraser River Raft Expeditions offers one day trips down the Thompson River which has class 3 & 4 rapids. You
can choose the large pontoon boats which have no chance of flipping or the more
exciting small rafts you paddle. My 75 year old mother in lkaw even did that,
although she is not your normal 75 year old granny. They operate May through
September. They meet at Lytton (how convenient) then bus you up to the town of
Spences Bridge. You spend the day rafting back to Lytton. You must pre-book. You
get back just before 4 PM and this gives you time to drive back through the
Historic Fraser Canyon (while its still light) and then the Freeway from Hope
back to Vancouver. If its still light when you get to Hope, take a 15 minute
trip (each way) east on Highway 3 to see the spectacular Hope Slide. During the
60's, an earthquake caused half a mountain to slide into the valleys, burying
the highway and several cars in the process. Fortunately, it happened in the
middle of the night. Its quite a sight, and the foliage has not come back, so it
looks much as it did 35 years ago.
The Hope slide, 18 kilometres east of Hope, was one of the
largest slides in Canadian history. The southwestern slope of Johnson Peak,
collapsed on January 9, 1965, spreading 47 million cubic metres of debris, 85
metres thick, over a 3 kilometre stretch of the Hope-Princeton highway. The
slide occurred in an unpopulated area in early morning hours and resulted in
four deaths (photo courtesy of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks).
If you do not want to raft, you can either take a leisurely
drive back to Vancouver through the Fraser Canyon, or take the long way. To do
that, Continue from Lytton to Merrit, then take The Okanagan Connector to the
Highway 5A turnoff and head south down Highway 5A (very pretty with lots of
lakes) to Highway 3 at princeton. Take Highway 3 West back to Hope and then the
Freeway to Vancouver. This is a full day. If you choose to go through Fraser
Canyon, make sure you take a side trip from Hope about 15 minutes along Highway
3 to see the Hope Slide.
Recommended Circle Route around BC by Car: (10 days)
I see many a post on the rec.travel.usa-canada
newsgroup for recommendations on what route to take for a circle
tour from Vancouver to Calgary and back. I'm getting tired of
describing it, so by placing it here, I can simply refer them to
my web page. You need 10 days to do this trip comfortably with
stops. Each number below, represents a comfortable days journey
of 5 to 8 hours including stops. If you are only going one way,
you cannot of course follow my recommendation. In this case I
would follow the southern route I have suggested (Items 4-8 in
reverse). Please note, this section is included in my Printable
guide which is linked off the main Vancouver page. Here goes:
1) Cross over the Lions Gate Bridge from
Downtown and take Highway 99 north along spectacular Howe Sound
to Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. Continue to the high desert
country at Lillooette, and then take Highway 12 to join Highway 1
at Lytton in the Fraser Canyon. Turn north on Highway 1 to the
desert town of Cache Creek. (Highway 12 is subject to slides, if
it is closed, there is an alternative route from Lillooette to
Highway 97, just north of Cache Creek) This is a full long days
trip from Vancouver, including stops. (Be careful at Pemberton,
the turnoff to Lillooette is easy to miss and you can end up on
the Anderson Lake road by mistake. There is a General Store at
the junction, stop and make sure you are in the right place).
2) Take Highway 1 to Kamloops and then turn
north on Highway 5 to Clearwater. At Clearwater, take a side trip
into Wells Gray Park to see the spectacular Helmekin Falls.
Continue north on Highway 5 to Valemount. This is another days
3) Just north of Valemount, turn east on
Highway 16 at Tete Jaune Cache. The drive to Jasper, Alberta
takes you past Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies. At
Jasper, turn south and follow the scenic Jasper-Banff highway to
Banff. Assuming, you don't spend any time in Jasper, this is
another days drive. Head east to Calgary or continue back to
4) From Banff head south on Highway 93 to
Radium Hot Springs and then south on Highway 95 to Cranbrook. It
is worth stopping at both Radium and Ft. Steele. Including stops
this is a days drive.
5) From Cranbrook, continue south on Highway
95, and then west on Highway 3 to Creston. At Creston head north
on Highway 34 to Kootenay Bay. Here you cross Kootenay lake on a
free ferry. Head north on Highway 31 to Kaslo and then on 31A to
New Denver and Highway 23 to Nakusp. Another days drive with
views of Lakes and Glaciers.
6) From Nakusp, head south on Highway 6 to
Fauquier and cross Arrow Lake on another free ferry. From Needles
on the other side, follow Highway 6 to Vernon in the Okanagan
Valley. Another days drive.
7) From Vernon, head south on Highway 97 to
Kelowna. You will want to spend a day along this short stretch,
swimming or visiting vineyards. Continue south to Penticton if
you like, but I would recommend retracing back up Highway 97 to
the junction with Highway 97C just north of Peachland. This is
another days journey.
8) From Penticton you can take Highway 97 and
Highway 3A to Keremeos and then Highway 3 to Princeton, but my
personal preference is to take the junction just north of
Peachland which is Highway 97C. This 85 km stretch of Highway is
very boring, but it takes you to Highway 5A (if you hit a 2 lane
stretch, you've missed the junction). Highway 5A, takes you south
to Princeton and is one of the prettiest stretches of road in BC,
with picture perfect Alpine lakes. From Princeton, take Highway 3
to Hope (make sure you stop at Lightning lakes, described above, and at the Hope
and then head back to Vancouver. As an alternative at Hope, you
can head a short way up Highway 1, until you cross the Fraser
River and then take Highway 7 back to Vancouver, a scenic
alternative to the Freeway. This is a long days drive from the Okanagan.