9 spectacular stretches of the Trans-Canada Highway

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Updated: May 3, 2019

fundy-coastal-drive Photo by Globe Guide Media Inc/Shutterstock

The Trans-Canada Highway isn’t just the world’s longest highway—it also features 7,714 kilometres of breathtaking views that link all 10 of Canada’s provinces together. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, there are plenty of spectacular stretches of road that everyone should travel on at least once in their lifetime.

Victoria to Nanaimo, B.C.

This spectacular drive features heavily forested stretches full of wildlife, along with coastal lowlands boasting a plethora of farms and wineries for you to stretch your legs. Take in the small-town charm of spots like Duncan, Ladysmith, and Chemainus before your trek ends at the ferry terminal to mainland Nanaimo.

B.C. to Lake Louise

Take off from Revelstoke, B.C., and journey the two-and-a-half hour trek to Alberta’s Lake Louise while enjoying a breathtaking assortment of views and drops. The ride may be a bit harrowing thanks to certain winding sections, but it will be worth it: through it all you’ll pass four islands along with national parks and lakes galore, not to mention bears and other wildlife.

Lake Louise to Calgary

During the two-hour trip from the turquoise waters of Lake Louise and through the Rockies to the more urban areas of Calgary, you’ll pass a gorgeous assortment of views. On your way into the prairies, you’ll also pass Canmore and Banff (home to Canada’s first national park), which are two places worth a stopover. Or you could carry on and simply enjoy the views of the Animal Bridges, Lac Des Arc, and Scott Lake Hill. While you’re at it, be sure to roll down the windows and experience Alberta’s warm chinook winds firsthand.

Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury, ON

If you’re seeking unparalleled views of northern rivers, waterways, and the Canadian Shield, the scenic 250-kilometre trek between these two spots ought to satiate. Along the way you’ll pass through a few First Nation reserves, and if you wish, you can even detour onto Manitoulin Island—the largest freshwater island in the world.

Rivière du Loup, QB and Grand Falls, NB

Invoke your inner adventurer and follow Route 128, which is the same portage route once used by the First Nations and fur traders through the Appalachians, connecting the St. Lawrence and Saint John River valley. There’s tons of history to uncover along the way, including the now-cleared farmlands where vast forests once grew.

New Brunswick

Also known as the #2 Highway, the Trans-Canada runs 523 kilometres across New Brunswick, where it offers passes through dozens of cities and towns on your way from Nova Scotia to Quebec. Along this route you’ll see the tidal lands from the Bay of Fundy and the rolling water of the Saint John River, and you’ll have ample opportunity to stop at any of the province’s many tourist attractions, museums, or charming towns.

Moncton to Charlottetown

The shorter, 168-kilometre hike between Moncton, NB, and the capital of PEI is filled with memorable moments, such as crossing the tidal marshlands between the Bay of Fundy and the Northumberland Strait, as well as the famed Confederation Bridge that brings you to PEI. From there, you can go on to experience the magnificent Bonshaw Hills, which are more than 100 metres above sea levels, on your way to Charlottetown.

New Glasgow to North Sydney, Nova Scotia

There are plenty of sights to see as you traverse the 255 kilometres across the Northumberland shoreline and head up to Cape Breton. From the Pictou Highlands and the Antigonish Lowlands to the Canso Strait and the town of Baddeck (where Alexander Graham Bell once spent his summers), there’s a lot to check out. If you’ve got extra time on your hands, you could even detour here and indulge in another road trip along the gorgeous Cabot Trail.

Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor, NL

Take in some of the prettiest views of Newfoundland with this northwestern stretch, which tackles rugged terrain, memorable forests, and countless lakes and rivers. Pass through Deer Lake and consider stopping off at Gros Morne National Park, where mountains with deep fjords will take your breath away. Carry on to L’Anse aux Meadows, where the vikings first settled in North America, and cap your trip off with a visit to Sandy Lake’s impressive herds of caribou.

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