5 Best Winter Road Trips in British Columbia

Are you looking for the best winter road trips in British Columbia?

As someone who lives in British Columbia, I can tell you all the best winter road trips you can take when visiting this winter wonderland province during the winter.

British Columbia is a beautiful province in Western Canada. In winter, it offers incredible road trip opportunities, snowy landscapes, and exciting outdoor activities.

These are some of the best winter road trips on British Columbia’s mainland and islands.

Best Winter Road Trips In British Columbia

These road trips are stunning, and there are destinations along the way with much to offer.

๐Ÿ’ก Note: Sometimes, highways are closed during the winter if the road conditions are considered too dangerous to drive.

1. Sea To Sky Highway (Highway 99)

As you drive along Highway 99, better known as the Sea to Sky Highway, you’ll be treated to stunning ocean views before the landscape transforms into snowy mountain peaks.

The Sea to Sky section of the highway starts after Horseshoe Bay (Sea) and ends in Pemberton (Sky).

There are many stops along the way to explore during the winter, such as snowshoeing in Garibaldi Provincial Park, staying in the Olympic Legacy Cabins in Porteau Cove, and the best one of them all is on a winter road trip to Whistler, British Columbia.

Whistler is also a world-renowned ski destination with thrilling outdoor winter activities in the mountains. The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is rated as one of the most scenic drives in Canada, no matter the time of year you travel.

A highway in the middle of the mountains with snow on either side. There's a while bust driving North bound.

The Whistler Blackcomb ski resort offers a fantastic skiing and snowboarding experience, with expansive slopes catering to all skill levels.

The alpine scenery adds excitement as you carve through the powdery trails. Some of the best Whistler ski in ski out accommodations are at the mountain’s base, making it easier to enjoy winter activities.

Beyond the slopes is Whistler Village, which has an aprรจs-ski ambiance. Stroll into Whistler Village with local shops and restaurants. The village has a festive spirit, especially during winter, with Christmas lights and decorations.

From October 1st until March 31st, snow tires are required to drive the Sea To Sky Highway.

2. Revelstoke To Banff (Trans-Canada Highway)

The winter drive from Revelstoke, British Columbia, to Banff, Alberta, is a journey that takes you through some of the most scenic landscapes in the Canadian Rockies.

This winter road trip is a true adventure, offering stunning views, snow-covered mountains, and a sense of exploration as you travel between these iconic mountain destinations.

Leaving Revelstoke, you’ll follow the Trans-Canada Highway, renowned for its beauty and accessibility. The highway winds through towering mountain passes alongside frozen rivers and charming alpine towns.

As you ascend to the heights of the Rockies, you’ll see panoramic views of snow-covered peaks and dense forests.

One of the highlights of this drive is the opportunity to visit Glacier National Park, Canada, located between Revelstoke and Golden. This winter wonderland park offers snowshoeing, ski touring, and ice-climbing opportunities.

Continuing eastward, you’ll pass through the stunning Yoho National Park, home to the famous Spiral Tunnels and Emerald Lake. The towering peaks, Wapta Falls โ€“ a frozen waterfall, and alpine meadows create an even more magical backdrop under a blanket of snow.

Mountain range with snow covered peaks. and the snow extends to the bottom of the mountains and in between the trees. There's some sun peaking from the clouds making part of the mountain have a sunny suntset glow.

3. Okanagan Valley

A winter drive to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is a venture into diverse beauty and unique experiences. As you navigate through the snow-covered landscapes, you’ll encounter towns and cities, lakes, and wineries that define this picturesque region.

However, once you arrive in the Okanagan Valley, you’ll encounter a winter wonderland that contrasts with the region’s popular summer appeal.

The valley’s lakes, including Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, are often framed by snowy peaks, creating a winter wonderland setting.

The Okanagan Valley’s reputation as a wine region remains intact throughout winter. Many wineries stay open, offering cozy tastings by the fireplace, allowing you to savour exceptional wines while looking out onto the snowy vineyards.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, the valley’s ski resorts, such as Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna, offer an array of winter sports and activities like dog sledding, skiing, sledding, and more.

Popular cities like Osoyoos, Penticton, and Vernon all have local shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

A lake with a mountain range in the background covered in snow. There are a flock of birds flying over the lake.

The Highways To The Okanagan

While they are the two main routes to the Okanagan, during the winter, they will become drastically different driving conditions compared to summer.

Coquihalla (Highway 5) โ€“ Don’t Drive In Winter

The drive to the Okanagan Valley can take you through various routes, each offering breathtaking views. The Coquihalla (pronounced Kow-Kuh-Haa-Luh) Highway (Highway 5) is one popular option, but it comes with extreme caution.

This mountainous route is known for its challenging conditions during the winter months. While it provides the quickest access to the Okanagan Valley, the Coquihalla can be treacherous due to heavy snowfall, icy patches, and rapidly changing weather.

It’s at the most dangerous at its highest point, the Coquihalla Pass between Hope and Merritt.

While it’s a quicker route during the summer, I recommend not driving the Coquihalla during the winter, as there have been many fatal car, truck, and bus accidents due to weather conditions and other driving factors.

If you’re unprepared or have never gone through the highway during the winter, I would avoid the Coquihalla Highway at all costs.

Crowsnest (Highway 3) โ€“ Better To Drive In Winter

Highway 3, better known as the Crowsnest Highway, is a historical, scenic route that winds through the southern part of British Columbia, Canada. While it’s not as dangerous as the Coquihalla (it still can be dangerous), there have been accidents along this route during the winter.

It’s important to note that weather conditions along the Crowsnest Highway vary greatly, especially during winter. Snowfall and icy conditions are common, particularly in higher elevations. Proper vehicle preparation and caution are essential when travelling this route in winter.

Stretching from Hope on the western end to the Alberta border on the eastern end, this highway offers travellers a unique blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and access to charming towns and communities.

The Crowsnest Highway is famed for its picturesque landscapes. It takes you through diverse terrain, including mountains, valleys, rivers, and forests. The route is particularly striking as it crosses several mountain ranges, offering panoramic views that change with the seasons.

Driving the Crowsnest Highway, you’ll come across various communities, each with its own character and attractions. The highway passes through towns like Princeton, Keremeos, and Grand Forks, where you can explore local markets, art galleries, and small-town hospitality.

4. Sunshine Coast Highway

The Sunshine Coast in winter offers a chance to escape the fast-paced city life and surround yourself with the coast’s natural beauty. Whether seeking coastal walks, cozy moments, or a connection with nature, this region becomes a haven for those seeking a quieter, more intimate winter road trip.

Seaside towns like Gibsons and Sechelt maintain their cozy appeal year-round as the Sunshine Coast receives minimal snowfall. The artisanal shops, galleries, and local cafes offer warm and inviting spaces to unwind.

You can take the road trip from Langdale to Earls Cove; it’s a beautiful coastal drive which would take approximately an hour and 15 minutes but will change depending on the weather conditions during winter.

The Sunshine Coast is accessible by the BC Ferries at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver. The ferry ride to the Sunshine Coast is 40 minutes non-stop, and it’s a beautiful ride through Howe Sound.

5. Pacific Rim Highway (Port Alberni To Tofino, Highway 4)

The Pacific Rim Highway, also known as Highway 4, is a scenic route on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, that connects the city of Port Alberni to the coastal town of Tofino.

The rainforests and coastal landscapes take on a unique and moody charm during the winter.

A mountain with snow covered peak on the drive along a highway. There are two vehicals driving on the road. One of the best winter road trips in British Columbia is the Sea to Sky Highway.

Port Alberni, located on Vancouver Island, is a small city known for its history and outdoor attractions, such as some of the best Vancouver Island waterfalls

At the end of the Pacific Rim Highway, Tofino is a destination that holds its appeal even in winter. Known for its stunning beaches, surfing culture, and proximity to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Tofino offers a peaceful escape from city life.

While there may be some limitations for outdoor activities due to the weather, you can still enjoy storm-watching from some of the best storm-watching hotels in Tofino or explore the town’s galleries, cafes, and local boutiques.

While this highway is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and access to the rugged Pacific coastline, it’s essential to consider the weather and road conditions, particularly during winter. Travelling the Pacific Rim Highway in winter can be a rewarding experience if you’re prepared and cautious.

During the winter, the Pacific Rim Highway can be subject to challenging weather conditions. Rainfall is typical on Vancouver Island, and in higher elevations, this can quickly turn to snow, creating potentially hazardous driving conditions. 

Winter Activities In Destinations

Here are some suggestions for winter activities that you can do in certain destinations.

  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Dog Sledding (Whistler, Revelstoke, Banff)
  • Heli-skiing (Whistler, Revelstoke)
  • Snowmobiling (Whistler, Revelstoke, Banff)
  • Snowshoeing (Whistler, Revelstoke, Banff)
  • Bobsleigh (Whistler)
  • Winter Ziplining (Whistler)
  • Hot Springs (Revelstoke)

BC Winter Road Trip Safety Tips

If you plan on taking any winter road trips, you should follow many winter road safety tips. Here are a few essential tips to remember.

โ„ Snow Tires

Snow tires are required to drive on any highway in British Columbia during the winter. Your tires must have a snowflake symbol and can’t be all-weather tires.

๐ŸŒกCheck Weather & Driving Conditions

Always check the weather and driving conditions before driving anywhere in the winter. Drive BC is a website that updates weather, road conditions, and other events that may occur on the highways.

๐ŸŽ’ Emergency Kit

Packing an emergency kit is essential, especially during the winter. You’ll never know what will happen along your journey, and unexpected events may occur, like your car breaking down.

Some items to pack into an emergency kit are:

โœ” A crank-type flashlight: Batteries often don’t last in cold weather
โœ” Reflective safety cones
โœ” Small first-aid kit
โœ” Snow brush & scrapper
โœ” Portable shovel
โœ” Jumper cables
โœ” De-icing fluids & wiper fluids
โœ” Extra blankets & warm clothing
โœ” Snacks & bottles of water
โœ” Hands and feet warmers
โœ” Abrasive material: Kitty litter or sand; avoid salt

Where To Stay On Your Winter Road Trip In BC

These are some places to stay on your winter road trip in British Columbia.

Crystal Lodge (Whistler)

โœ… Excellent Location
โœ… Dog-Friendly

If you’re looking for an excellent hotel in Whistler, Crystal Lodge is a well-rounded hotel that caters to relaxation and exceptional staff.

Best Western Plus Revelstoke

โœ… Complimentary Breakfast
โœ… Free Parking

The Best Western Plus Revelstoke is two kilometres from the town centre. Many people loved and enjoyed having the variety of the complimentary breakfast.

Moose Hotel & Suites (Banff)

โœ… Excellent Location
โœ… High Comfort Rating

One of Banff’s favourite hotels is the Moose Hotel and Suites. They are also a minute away from the heart of Banff and highly rated for their comfort level.

Ocean Village Resort (Tofino)

โœ… Beachfront
โœ… Fantastic Staff

With the option of choosing between the views of the Lower Studio Suites or the Upper Studio Suites, nothing can beat the excellent location of the Ocean Village Resort.

Best Winter Road Trips In British Columbia โ€“ FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions for the best winter road trips in British Columbia.

How Many Days Do You Need For British Columbia?

If you plan a winter road trip, you’ll likely need 10 to 14 days in British Columbia, including the driving time and other winter activities you plan on doing at your destinations.

Is January A Good Time To Visit British Columbia?

Yes! January is an excellent time to visit British Columbia as it’s one of the year’s colder months, perfect for hitting the mountains.

What Is British Columbia Like In December?

Depending where you’re in British Columbia will impact what December is like. Suppose you’re by the coast, like Vancouver. In that case, it will feel cooler with temperatures dropping in the negatives (nothing usually below -5 degrees Celsius; 23 degrees Fahrenheit), with more rainfall and occasional snowfall from time to time.

However, in the interior of British Columbia, temperatures fluctuate and can reach as low as -43.6 degrees Celsius (-46.48 Fahrenheit). There is plenty of snowfall and freezing temperatures during the day. 

Where In BC Does It Not Snow?

Victoria, also the capital of British Columbia, is the one place in BC and Canada where it does not snow or snow a small amount, then melts immediately.

Is Revelstoke Bigger Than Whistler?

Whistler is the bigger ski area compared to Revelstoke. It’s better suited for families, beginners, and intermediate skiers, and there are more things to do in the surrounding areas, like Whistler Village.

On the other hand, Revelstoke is more for advanced skiers and snowboarders. While Whistler can become crowded, Revelstoke has fewer crowds and is cheaper comparatively.


British Columbia offers a winter wonderland for unforgettable road trips. From the Sea to Sky Highway’s beauty of the ocean to the mountains to the stunning scenic route of the Pacific Rim Highway, the province’s diverse landscapes of snowy peaks and charming towns make for the best winter road trips in British Columbia.

Have a good day ๐Ÿ™‚