Yellowhead Highway

The Yellowhead Highway, part of the Trans-Canada Highway system, is in western Canada (the Prairies and British Columbia). It is not the Trans-Canada mainline (which originates in Victoria in the west) but an alternate, northern route through Edmonton with Prince Rupert as its western endpoint.

View of Mount Robson and Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, from the Yellowhead Highway

This article is an itinerary.

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Map of Yellowhead Highway (Edit GPX)?'”`UNIQ–indicator-00000001-QINU`”‘?

The 2,660 km (1,650 mi) Yellowhead Highway is one of multiple highways which compose the Trans-Canada Highway system; in all four western provinces (BC, AB, SK, MB) it is numbered as provincial Highway 16. The route leads through remote and sparsely-populated areas due to its more northern alignment, including many native First Nation communities; in BC it is known as the Highway of Tears due to a number of hitchhikers missing or dead over the years.

Prince George is accessible from the BC Lower Mainland via BC Highway 97 (which extends US 97) but further west the route is isolated. In Terrace, the only other highway (BC 37) runs north through mountainous terrain to the Alaska Highway in the Yukon; in Prince Rupert, the only access is by coastal ferry, by air or by following the Yellowhead Highway’s path by road or rail. No road follows the rugged BC coastline north from Powell River to Prince Rupert.

Further east, the Yellowhead Highway passes through two large cities: Edmonton (metro population 1.1 million), Saskatoon (population 250,000), and Winnipeg (population 700,000). While this itinerary describes travel by road, it is possible to make the same trip by rail: Via Rail runs a two-day Jasper-Prince Rupert train from which one may transfer in Jasper village (in Jasper National Park) to the main Vancouver-Toronto train, The Canadian.

Yellowhead Lake, in Alberta

This itinerary is based on travel by motorcar. There is limited access by public transit:

  • By train: VIA runs from Prince Rupert to Jasper. From there, one can take The Canadian onward to Winnipeg.
  • By bus: While Greyhound Canada withdrew from western Canada in 2018, much of the Yellowhead highway remains accessible via a string of regional carriers. BC Transit runs Prince Rupert-Prince George and Prince George-Valemont. There’s a 100 km (62 mi) gap between Tête Jaune Cache (near Valemont) and Jasper. Sun Dog runs from Jasper to Edmonton; Cold Shot runs Jasper-Edmonton and Edmonton-Lloydminster, connecting to KCTI‘s shuttlebus to Saskatoon. Rider Express continues from Edmonton to Winnipeg.

This is a northern route which leads through isolated communities and through the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. It requires at least thirty-two hours of continuous driving and road conditions may be treacherous in winter. Be sure that your vehicle is in top mechanical condition; do not set out on this route in winter without snow tires and emergency equipment for winter driving.

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