CanadaNorth AmericaRoads

Coquihalla Highway, a hard condition road.

The Coquihalla highway in Canada
Coquihalla Route

The Coquihalla Highway is a part of Highway number 5. This road is the shortest way to get from Vancouver to Edmonton. Although, it’s not an easy ride, especially during the winter: the road crosses a mountain pass and the weather conditions can be very hard here.

Where is the Coquihalla Highway?

The Coquihalla Highway is located in the southeast of Canada. It is in the British Columbia province.

The road is a part of the transcanadian road that links the west coast with the east coast.

It is considered one of the worst and dangerous highways of North America during the winter. It climbs the Coquihalla Pass which is 1244 meters (4081 ft) above the sea level.

You can situate the road on the map below:


Enlarge the map

Some details about the road.

Facts

This highway in British Columbia connects the cities of Vancouver and Kamloops via Hope and Merritt. Also, it is considered a part of transcanadian road.

It is about 200 km (125 miles) long. The route is a 2 to 3 lines each way asphalted road. The drive will take you approximately 2h30 if the road conditions are good. Indeed, during winter you can be blocked for some hours on the road.

The speed limit on the road is 120 km/h (75 miles/h) since July 2014 when the government agreed that the speed limit can be increased. Before that, the speed limit was 110 km/h (68 miles/h).

During winter the temperature can be very low: -30°c (-22°f) and very big snowfall, more than 10 cm (4 inches) per hour!

History

The first road was traced on the former railway that was there between 1912 and 1958. In fact, it was different parts of “small roads” that were rebuilt.

The modern road was open in 1987 and the cost of the construction was 848 million dollars.

There was a toll until September 2008, and it was the only toll road in British Columbia. The cost was 10 Canadian dollars for a standard car.

How to get to the Coquihalla Highway?

The road starts near Vancouver, more precisely in Hope. To get there you should drive east on Highway 1 until you reach Hope city then drive a little portion of Highway 3 until the intersection with Highway 5 (Coquihalla Highway).

If you are coming from the north you have to reach Kamloops town. In order to achieve this, you can take highway 1, 5, 5a.

You can visualise the itinerary on the map below:

A preview of the drive:

You can have a preview of the drive and see how the road condition can be bad on that road by watching this youtube video:

What to do near this road?

  • Hope: It is a small town, where you can explore some attractions: the Kawkawa Lake Park, the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area, or the Coquihalla River Provincial Park.
  • Merritt: From there you can start some outdoor activities and also visit the Coldwater River Provincial Park or the Monck Provincial Park.
  • Logan Lake: Is a mining town, you will learn some details about the mining life here
  • Kamloops: Near this town, you can see the Walloper Lake Provincial Park, the Lac Le Jeune Provincial Park, or also the McConnell Lake Provincial Park.

Is the Coquihalla Highway open?

The Coquihalla Highway is always open. However, the road can be often closed from October to May because of weather conditions that make the road very dangerous.

Winter condition on Coquihalla Highway
Winter condition on Coquihalla Highway

As you understand, in winter you should be very careful and obviously have snow tires but this is a requirement in British Colombia from October to April.

Truck drivers that drive often this road, take with them some accessories in case if they will be blocked by a snow storm. Indeed, they take a warm sleeping bag, some candles, and some food just in case. Those can be great ideas to follow this example if you drive anywhere in a hard winter condition.

If you are planning a road trip in the British Columbia region, you will surely drive the Coquihalla Highway. This road as you already understood by reading the article is quite a common highway during the summer, but can transform in a hell road during winter!

Pictures source: By Dimbeko at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6062383 / By Ruth Hartnup – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruthanddave/24309592119, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75885590


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