When to travel
You can drive the Trans-Canada Highway anytime, but the best times of the year are during shoulder season — fall and spring. During the summer months, the roads are at their busiest. Eastern Canada, with its maple trees, is a prime viewing area for bright-red foliage. During spring, Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, flowers and cherry trees often blossom as early as March.
Temperatures can fluctuate dramatically, so pack for extreme heat and cold. And bring sunglasses. During the height of summer, you can get as much as 17 hours of daylight along some parts of the highway. If you’re a bird-watcher, you’ll definitely want to take your binoculars. Canada has 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites, many accessible from the TCH.
The TCH straddles the U.S. border some of the way, cutting through Canada’s most populated areas. Watch for traffic, particularly in Toronto and Montreal. As you head west, gas stations are more spaced apart, so practice the half-tank rule — if you see a service station and you’re below half a tank, stop and refuel. To experience the full length of the TCH, be prepared for ferry crossings and the related fees in areas such as Vancouver Island on the west coast, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Take your time
Most people crossing the TCH are in a hurry. Don’t make that mistake. Canada is filled with national parks and provincial parks along the way or just off the highway. They offer rewarding views, natural wonders, wildlife sightings and other adventures. And, of course, there’s the food. You won’t discover any of it by eating every meal at Tim Hortons — not that there’s anything wrong with that.