Coquihalla Highway, a hard-condition road.

The Coquihalla highway in Canada
Coquihalla Route

For people going from Vancouver to Edmonton, a common route is the Coquihalla Highway, often known as Highway 5. Despite being the shortest method, it is not without difficulties. The route crosses a mountain pass, and because of the severe weather, the winter months can be highly hazardous. While traveling on the Coquihalla Highway, motorists should be alert and prepared for these difficulties.

Where is the Coquihalla Highway?

The Coquihalla Highway is located in the southwest 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 most dangerous highways in North America during the winter. It climbs the Coquihalla Pass which is 1244 meters (4081 ft) above sea level.

You can situate the road on the map below:

Enlarge the map

Some details about the road.


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

It is about 200 km (125 miles) long. The route is 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).


The first road was traced to 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 opened 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 highways 1, 5, and 5a.

You can visualize 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: This 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 McConnell Lake Provincial Park.

Is the Coquihalla Highway open?

The Coquihalla Highway is open all year round but can be closed during snowfall for safety reasons. It’s crucial to check the weather and road conditions before traveling.

Winter condition on Coquihalla Highway
Winter condition on Coquihalla Highway

Weather on the Coquihalla Highway is frequently unpredictable, particularly in the winter. Drivers can anticipate seeing significant amounts of precipitation, slick roads, and poor visibility when the road travels through a mountain pass. It’s crucial to be ready and up to date on the situation before setting out on a trip because the weather might change quickly and without warning. Before leaving, it’s vital to verify the weather and road conditions provided by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have a set of winter tires, extra blankets, food, and water in case of emergency.

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

Pictures source: By Dimbeko at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, / By Ruth Hartnup –, CC BY 2.0,

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