The epic road trip from Montreal to Vancouver is an incredible journey that takes you across the width of the continent: from where the St Lawrence River joins the Atlantic Ocean to the Strait Of Georgia on the Pacific coast and through stunning wilderness.
At over 4,500-kilometres, a road trip from Montreal to Vancouver takes around 48 hours. Key stops can include Lake Michigan, Seattle, Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, Chicago; or Manitoba, Kamloops, Rocky Mountains or Banff if you choose the Canadian Route.
There are so many places to visit on this trip between two of the largest oceans. Read on to discover the options you have available for this incredible journey.
How far is Vancouver from Montreal and how long will the road trip take?
|The American Route
|5,070km (3,150 miles)
|The Canadian Route
|4,560km (2,833 miles)
The road trip from Montreal to Vancouver spans a minimum distance of 4,560 km (2,833 miles) and takes at least 48 hours to complete. That's if you were to drive nonstop along the route, without accounting for any stops along the way.
On a trip of this magnitude you will need at least 5 days to cover the distance. But with so many great stops along the way, including stunning wilderness to take in, you should really consider spending up to two weeks to complete the journey.
There are two obvious routes to take, one which largely remains in Canada, while the other cuts through the US. It's important to note that both cross the border and will require documents to prove your identity and visa (if necessary). A passport is usually recommended.
Best road trip route from Montreal to Vancouver
There are two great routes to take for a road trip from Montreal to Vancouver. The Canadian Route is slightly more direct and cuts straight across southern Canada and through its six largest, most populated provinces.
Our American Route is 420 miles longer but takes in some of America's most interesting states and gives you the opportunity to explore Seattle, Lake Michigan and Chicago. Both routes have impossibly beautiful views so choose the best one depending on your preference of stops.
How to drive from Montreal to Vancouver
The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Montreal and Vancouver. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.
The American Route
The American Route will take you through the northern part of the United States. Begin by heading west on Highway 401 and through Kingston, a beautiful city on Lake Ontario.
Follow this road through Toronto and consider a stop at the capital of Ontario, before crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit, on the American side of the border. From here you can explore Lake Erie as well as the city itself.
Next take Interstate 96 a short distance until it meets I-94 and follow this west, to Gary, Indiana, near the Illinois border on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Continue heading west on I-94 through Madison before arriving at Minneapolis. Consider taking a detour to explore Lake Traverse Reservation or Leech Lake Reservation.
Still heading west on I-94, you will pass several towns in North Dakota before reaching Montana. A worthy detour here would be to visit the stunning Yellowstone National Park and cities such as Missoula.
At Billings, take Interstate 90 west and continue on this road for the rest of the trip as you drive through some majestic scenery alongside New Perce Reservation and Kootenai National Forest.
When you arrive at Seattle, change to the I-5 north and follow it all the way to the Canadian border. Once in Canada the road becomes Highway 99, and you can follow this the remainder of the journey, to your destination in Vancouver.
The Canadian Route
Our alternative route remains almost entirely in Canada. In fact, if you don't wish to cross into the US for some of the attractions along the border, this route never leaves the country.
Begin by heading north on Quebec Autoroute 20 and follow it to Sainte-Agathe-Des-Monts, where it merges with Route 117. You'll follow this to the Ontario border, before a very brief stint on the Trans-Canada Highway brings us to Highway 11.
Consider a stop to explore La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve for its lakes and beautiful walks, before continuing west to the town of Emo, on the US-Canadian border. Parts of the road will be labelled as Highway 17 and Trans-Canada Highway, as they follow the same route in places.
From here take Trans-Canada Highway north to Longbow Lake and then switch to Highway 17 heading west.
Once you pass into Manitoba, the road becomes Trans-Canada Highway 1, which you'll follow the entire way across both Manitoba and driving through Edmonton and Alberta - both of which would make fantastic stops.
Continue on Ab-16 and take in the sights of the stunning Jasper National Park Of Canada before arriving at Kamloops, in British Columbia.
All that's left now is to take Highway 5 south, until it re-joins Trans-Canada Highway 1, and continue following that south all the way to Vancouver.
Best places to stop between Montreal and Vancouver
With two very different routes to choose from for your road trip from Montreal to Vancouver, you're going to have to choose plenty of great places to stay along the way, to both break up the trip and give you plenty of time to see the sights.
With almost 10,000 kilometres of country between the two routes, it's impossible to point out everywhere worth staying and, quite frankly, discovering things on your own is often part of the fun on a road trip.
That said, here's a couple of our favourite locations and hotels, so be sure to make a longer stop at one of each of these:
American Route - Rapid City
Rapid City itself, while beautiful, is likely a location many people will be unfamiliar with, as it isn't exactly a famous city. However, some of the attractions in the surrounding area are considerably more well known.
Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Deadwood, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Wind Cave National Park are just a few of the famous locations located less than an hours drive from the city.
There are very few places in the entire country with so many famous, historic attractions in such close proximity, which is why this is an absolutely perfect place to have one of your longer stops along the route. It's also over halfway through your route, so ideally placed to rest.
Given the cities location to so many fantastic attractions, there's a great choice of nearby hotels. For convenience, comfort and style, a top choice would have to the Cambria Hotel Rapid City. As well as having the all-important indoor swimming pool, a must on a long road trip, the hotel is stylish, rooms for comfortable and generous and there are wonderful views from the restaurant and poolside.
Located just a short drive from South Dakota attractions, this beautiful hotel is the perfect stop for exploring and relaxing in equal measures.
Canadian Route - Banff
Some 950km from your destination on the Canadian Route and an ideal stop before arriving at Vancouver, Banff is a fantastic overnight stop.
Its growing reputation as one of the premier beauty spots in the entire world, located high up in the Rocky Mountains at about 90-minutes west of Calgary, Banff is home to some of the most picturesque views around.
From here you are spoilt with glorious surroundings - take a scenic walk through the stunning forests or enjoy a hot drink in one of the many beautiful lodges. Then, for the more thrill-seeking among you, there are world famous ski slopes or locations to go boating on its collection of gorgeous lakes.
However you want to experience it, if you're a fan of scenic, naturally beautiful locations, Banff is an absolute must visit location. For an equally breathtaking experience, we highly recommend a stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs.
Luxurious and historic, the Fairmont Banff Springs is a stunning hotel that offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. The building, which is like a beautiful castle, has so much on offer. Indulge at the hotel's beautiful indoor pool or enjoy the spa facilities, before relaxing by the fire at its onsite restaurant and bar. You can also enjoy 360-degree views of Banff National Park and Canada's Castle in the Rockies. Wow.
Things to see on a road trip from Montreal to Vancouver
With two routes to chose from for a road trip from Montreal to Vancouver, you've certainly got an important decision to make before you even set out.
Here's a list of some of the absolute best things to do and see along these epic routes:
- The Great Lakes - Made up of the 5 lakes of Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Erie, they are the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth by area and second largest by volume. Our American route passes 3 of the group, the two smallest lakes of Erie and Ontario, as well as the second largest in Lake Michigan, while our Canadian option passes just one, the largest of the group, Lake Superior.
The American Route
- Detroit, Michigan - The largest and most populous city in Michigan, with nicknames such as Motown, Motor City and Rock City, for its history in the music and automotive industries.
- Chicago, Illinois - The Largest city in the state of Illinois and 3rd largest in the country. Known as the windy city, due to its location on the shores of Lake Michigan, it's most famous for its history with the mafia in the 1920's and for its unique style of pizza.
- Wall Drug - Wild west themed tourist attraction, featuring shops, restaurants and art exhibits, as well as the drug store it was originally founded as in 1931.
- Badlands National Park – One of two national parks located in South Dakota, it is world famous for having one of the planets richest collections of fossils, as well as an abundance of wildlife.
- Rapid City - The second largest city in South Dakota and a gateway to the beautiful Black Hills National Forest and Mount Rushmore.
- Wind Cave National Park – The second national park in South Dakota, it features one of the longest cave systems in the world and is known for its incredibly unique formations.
- Deadwood - The second largest wild west town still in existence.
- Sturgis - Historic town that is also home to the largest motorcycle rally in the world, which is held every year on the first weekend in August.
- Crazy Horse Monument - Considered to be the Native American answer to Mount Rushmore and located in the same hills, this carving of one of the most famous war chiefs in history will be one of the largest in the world upon completion.
- Mount Rushmore - The legendary attraction, featuring the faces of former US presidents, carved into the Black Hills.
- Devils Tower - Iconic butte that has been seen in movies, tv and works of art for generations.
- Bighorn National Forest -Site of the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark, a sacred location for many Native tribe's, the origins of which remain unclear to this day.
- Yellowstone National Park - Split between the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, Yellowstone is the oldest and one of the most famous national parks in the system, as well as the 2nd largest in the contiguous US.
- Seattle, Washington - The largest and most populated city in the state of Washington, best known as the birthplace of grunge music, as well as for its iconic space needle and for being the location of the original branch of Starbucks.
The Canadian Route
- La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve - One of the largest nature reserves in Quebec, home to more than 4000 lakes, 2 reservoirs and over 200 species of birds, fish and mammals.
- Thunder Bay, Ontario - The most populous city on the shores of Lake Superior, it is home to an incredible collection of parks, gardens and falls, as well as many other outdoor locations and activities.
- Isle Royale National Park - With less than 27,000 annual visitors, this is the least visited national park in the contiguous US and 4th least overall. The largest island on Lake Superior, it is most famous for the study into the unique relationship between its wolf and moose populations, which has been ongoing for more than 50 years. It also has multiple shipwrecks and smaller islands located in the waters surrounding it.
- Quetico Provincial Park - A wilderness area popular for canoeing and fishing, which makes up part of Quetico-Superior Country with Superior National Forest on the other side of the border.
- Voyageurs National Park - A stunning park on the US-Canadian border, full of forests, islands, lakes and rock formations, which are home to numerous species of animals and birds.
- Winnipeg, Manitoba - The capital and most populous city in Manitoba. Its early railroad history and position as the last major city in the east of the country have earned it the nickname “the gateway to the west”.
- Calgary, Alberta - The largest and most populated city in Alberta, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
- Banff - Canadas oldest national park, Banff is world famous for its stunning collection of lakes, forests, mountains and ski resorts.
Best time to go on a road trip from Montreal to Vancouver
Considering a road trip from Montreal to Vancouver takes two full days of non-stop driving, no matter which of the routes you select, you need to make sure that conditions are perfect so you can see and do everything you plan, both along the route as well as at your destination.
Considering the part of the world you will be travelling through and to, and that the majority of our attractions are outdoors, it leaves us with a relatively small window to work with, in order to ensure temperatures and weather conditions ideal.
We'd strongly recommend making this journey in either July or August when temperatures are around 65 Degrees Fahrenheit and rarely exceed 80, giving you the best weather at our destination of Vancouver as well as throughout the journey.
A trip during July would also give you the opportunity to arrive at our destination in time to experience the thrill of Vancouver's Honda Celebration of Light - a three-day festival showcasing incredible fireworks over the English Bay. There's also an International Jazz Festival held in the city for 12 days in late June and July - just plan ahead and book in advance as the city will get extremely busy during these months.