Unfortunately, our snow tires just aren't that good...
February 12, 2008 5:49 PM   Subscribe

With the coquihalla closed, what is the best way to get from Vancouver to Kamloops?

We're driving for a whirlwind trip to Edmonton to see my sister married, and as the coquihalla is buried under around 10 meters of snow, we need to go by a different route. Our choices seem to be among the following:

1) Take highway 1 from hope north, and then highway 8 over to Merritt, and then up the open part of the Coquihalla to Kamloops. Northward bound!

2) Take highway 1 through Cache Creek and on to Kamloops. Northward bound!

3) Take highway 3 from Hope to Princeton, then 5a to Merritt, and then anything goes to get me to Kamloops. Again, to the north!

So which of these is best? We plan (yes, it's silly) to do the drive in a day, and as such we want to leave quite early Friday morning. Like, 5:30 am. So which of these routes will be a) fastest b) have the least traffic and c) be largely devoid of bad weather risks?
posted by vernondalhart to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (11 answers total)
truckers are using the Highway 3 + 5A combination, so you will find that this road is most clear.

If this nice stretch of weather continues, in the Lower Mainland / WA area for the next five days as predicted, then perhaps taking the Canyon route (Highway 1) could work as well.
posted by seawallrunner at 6:06 PM on February 12, 2008

[I don't know the current conditions]
In adverse weather conditions, I find hwy 3 to be more frightening than hwy 1.
that said, if any part of the coq is open, that's where I [and the traffic...] would be.

Your option #1 sounds best to me.
Plan on this taking a lot longer than it normally does. Conditions in Alberta are terrible at the moment, and who knows what friday will bring.
You will not average 90kph. I'm pretty sure about that.
And if you do, in snowy conditions like you describe, you might not for long.
Follow a semi truck. One of the sloow ones, not the suicidal ones.
posted by Acari at 6:08 PM on February 12, 2008

oh, one more thing. consult this on your computer, and on your wireless device: Drive BC. It provides up to the minute conditions of major highways across BC, and includes webcams too
posted by seawallrunner at 6:13 PM on February 12, 2008

If you are going to take 3 don't even bother coming north until you are in Alberta. This route is a nice change if you've done Golden-Banff a lot.

Highway 8 doesn't save you much. The Canyon - Cache Creek is always my route (live in Kamloops) when 5 is closed. It's not nearly as slow as it used to be as much the highway has a 100 speed limit.
posted by Mitheral at 6:27 PM on February 12, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah, I've been watching Drive BC for a little bit now. Unfortunately, it'll only help until we actually get on the road. Hopefully nothing drastic will occur once we leave...
posted by vernondalhart at 6:29 PM on February 12, 2008

Even if you want to take the 3 over to Princeton, I would strongly suggest against Mitheral's route. The 3 will be quite unpleasant from Christina Lake to Creston, as it often is in the winter. Kootenay Pass, in particular, can be very messy (and it has been snowing heavily on and off for days in the Kootenays). It looks like you'll be taking the 5 from Kamloops, so this probably isn't an issue.

Whichever route you take, carry chains if you have poor snow tires.
posted by ssg at 6:39 PM on February 12, 2008

Ok I wasn't clear. ssg is right, don't take 3. Just if I was going to go that way (I treat ever road trip as an adventure) I'd take it all the way across.
posted by Mitheral at 7:04 PM on February 12, 2008

Why don't you consider flying Westjet? Seriously. As you know, road conditions are pretty terrible in the Interior at the moment, it is unrealistic to think that you can get from the Coast to Edmonton in one day, especially when you are unfamiliar with the route, and especially especially especially when conditions are as bad as they are this winter - probably the worst in ten years.

Buuuut... Why not take Highway 3 to Osoyoos, and then, to avoid the Kootenay Pass nightmare, hang a left and take 97 up to Kelowna, Vernon and then Kamloops. From Vancouver, that would be at least a ten hour drive *without any snow*. And then you're looking at another ten hour drive to Edmonton.

But the quickest and safest route is Westjet.

**I have already experienced shitty BC winter driving conditions. Back in December I was in Whistler for business. We left Whistler Village at 1PM and did not reach downtown Vancouver until 9:30 at night. It should have taken two hours, but we were stuck, because of snow, just outside of Lions Bay for seven hours. We nearly ran out of gas. We had no food. There was no place to go to the bathroom. It was not an adventure.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 AM on February 13, 2008

8 is currently closed so at the moment you can't get from Spences bridge to Merritt.

KokuRyu writes "hang a left and take 97 up to Kelowna, Vernon and then Kamloops."

It's going out of the way quite a bit if you take this route. But hey if vernondalhart wants to two day it we could have a meetup. :)

KokuRyu writes "We nearly ran out of gas. We had no food. There was no place to go to the bathroom."

Did you reconsider the state of your winter car kit? No one should be driving in winter in Canada without being prepared to spend a couple days on the side of the road.
posted by Mitheral at 9:59 AM on February 13, 2008

Response by poster: I can't do a two day drive, since my sister's wedding is on the Saturday...

Anyhow, it's not like I haven't been on this drive before---I just haven't been the main driver before. As it stands, drivebc.ca seems to suggest that highway 1 and the road from Kamloops to Alberta's border are pretty clear. The weather forecast suggest a bit of snow, but nothing too bad...
posted by vernondalhart at 6:05 PM on February 13, 2008

Did you reconsider the state of your winter car kit? No one should be driving in winter in Canada without being prepared to spend a couple days on the side of the road.

DFAIT had arranged transport; I was just a passenger. So, Mitheral, I do not make a point of lugging around a winter car kit when I am not the driver and it is not my car. You kind of put your faith in the members of the team to take care of that sort of thing, and, in this case, DFAIT fucked up. This is usually how people die.

I work for the province, by the way.

But good luck getting to Edmonton safely in one day.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:28 AM on February 14, 2008

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