British Columbia Highway 3

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Highway 3

Highway 3 highlighted in red.
Route information
Maintained by British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Length838 km[1] (521 mi)
(1) Crowsnest Highway
(2) Southern Trans-Provincial Highway
(3) Southern Trans-Canada Highway
Major junctions
West end Hwy 1 (TCH) near Hope
Major intersections
East end Hwy 3 at Alberta border at Crowsnest Pass
ProvinceBritish Columbia
Major citiesGreenwood, Grand Forks, Castlegar, Cranbrook, Fernie
TownsPrinceton, Osoyoos, Creston
Highway system
Hwy 2 Hwy 3A

British Columbia Highway 3, officially named the Crowsnest Highway, is an 841-kilometer (523 mi) highway that traverses southern British Columbia, Canada. It runs from the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) at Hope to Crowsnest Pass at the Alberta border and forms the western portion of the interprovincial Crowsnest Highway that runs from Hope to Medicine Hat, Alberta. The highway is considered a Core Route of the National Highway System.

Route description

The peak of Allison Pass.

Highway 3 begins in Hope. From Vancouver, the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) enters Hope from the west as a four-lane freeway; however at Exit 170, Highway 1 exits the freeway and continues north along the Fraser River. The freeway continues east along the Coquihalla River, designated as Highway 3 and Highway 5, for 7 km (4 mi) to Exit 177. There, the freeway turns north and continues as the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) towards Merritt while Highway 3 takes the exit and continues east through Manning Provincial Park for 126 km (78 mi) towards the town of Princeton. Known as the Hope-Princeton Highway, it begins several significant ascents through the Cascade Mountains; first is the steep climb to the Hope Slide, followed later by the remainder of the climb up to Allison Pass at an elevation of 1,342 m (4,403 ft). After the summit of Allison Pass, where Highway 3 crosses from the Fraser Valley Regional District into the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, the road descends for 40 mi (64 km) along the Similkameen River before beginning another long climb up Sunday Summit (1,284 m (4,213 ft)). Soon after Sunday Summit is the descent into Princeton, where it meets Highway 5A.[2]

Beyond Princeton, Highway 3 continues for 67 km (42 mi) to the southeast through Hedley to the Village of Keremeos, where it meets Highway 3A, leading towards Penticton and Highway 97. Prior to the opening of Highway 97C in 1990, this was the primary link between the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan Valley, and still functions as the main alternative route. 46 km (29 mi) southeast of Keremeos, through Richter Pass, and Highway 3 reaches the Town of Osoyoos and a junction with Highway 97. On the east end of Osoyoos, Highway 3 crosses Osoyoos Lake before entering the Monashee Mountains, ascending Anarchist Mountain through a stretch of switchbacks. Beyond the summit of Anarchist Mountain, in the upland rural community which shares the same name, Highway 3 enters the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and proceeds to hug the Canada–United States border.[2]

Through the Similkameen Valley westwards into the mountains

Highway 3 reaches its junction with Highway 33 at Rock Creek, 52 km (32 mi) east of Osoyoos. The highway follows the Kettle River to Midway before continuing east through Greenwood and intersecting Highway 41 at the locality of Carson, approximately 5 km (3 mi) west of Grand Forks. 21 km (13 mi) east of Grand Forks, Highway 3 meets Highway 395 at Christina Lake. East from Christina Lake, Highway 3 travels for 47 km (29 mi) through Bonanza Pass to its junction with Highway 3B at Nancy Greene Provincial Park, which is the cutoff to Rossland and Trail, passing Red Mountain Resort en route. East of Nancy Greene Lake, Highway 3 travels for 26 km (16 mi) east, crossing into the Regional District of Central Kootenay, to the City of Castlegar where Highway 3 intersects Highway 22, crosses the Columbia River, and intersects Highway 3A leading towards Nelson. 28 km (17 mi) east of Castlegar, Highway 3 reaches its eastern junction with Highway 3B. Highway 6 converges with the Highway 3 at Salmo, 11 km (7 mi) east of the Highway 3B junction, and the two highways proceed south for 14 km (9 mi) to the Burnt Flat Junction, where Highway 6 diverges south.[2]

East of Burnt Flat, Highway 3 heads into the Selkirk Mountains and passes through the Kootenay Pass, at 1,774 m (5,820 ft) it is the highest point on the Crowsnest Highway, on a stretch known as the Kootenay Skyway, or Salmo-Creston Skyway. 69 km (43 mi) east of Burnt Flat, Highway 3 reaches the town of Creston in the Kootenay River valley, just past junctions with Highway 21 and Highway 3A. East of Creston, Highway 3 passes through the Purcell Mountains and 38 km (24 mi) later, intersects Highway 95 near Yahk. The two highways share a common alignment for 72 km (45 mi) northeast along the Moyie River, crossing into the Regional District of East Kootenay along the way, to a junction with Highway 95A in the city of Cranbrook. Another 6 km (4 mi) east is the interchange with the Highway 93 / Highway 95 concurrency, where Highway 95 diverges north and Highway 93 merges onto the Highway 3 from the north. Highway 93 and Highway 3 share a common alignment for the next 55 km (34 mi), passing through the Rocky Mountain Trench, crosses the Kootenay River, and enters the Rocky Mountains, where at Elko Highway 93 diverges south. From Elko, Highway 3 follows the Elk River for 32 km (20 mi) to Fernie, then it goes north another 29 km (18 mi) to its junction with Highway 43 at Sparwood. East of Sparwood, Highway 3 leaves the Elk River valley and travels for another 19 km (12 mi) east to Crowsnest Pass (1,382 m (4,534 ft)) on the Continental Divide, and crosses into Alberta.[2]


Crossing the Rock Creek Canyon Bridge between Osoyoos and Rock Creek.

Highway 3 is predated by the Dewdney Trail, a 720 km (445 mi) trail used in the mid-19th century that connected the Lower Mainland to present-day Fort Steele, roughly paralleling the Canada-United States border; about 80% of the present-day highway follows the historic trail. In the early 20th century, the province began to upgrade its trails to roads, and in 1928, it was the first automobile route that connected to the Alberta border.[3] Designated as the Southern Trans-Provincial Highway, it ran from Vancouver to Crowsnest Pass and later designated as Route 'A'; the route followed Kingsway and Yale Road from Vancouver to Hope, then turning north to Spences Bridge.[4] The route then turned southeast and passed through Merritt and Princeton along present-day Highway 8 and Highway 5A before travelling east through Osoyoos, Grand Forks and Trail. The route included major ferry crossings at Castlegar, Nelson, and Balfour, before continuing through Creston and Cranbrook to the Alberta border.[5]

In 1932, a more northern route following the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway known as the Central Trans-Provincial Highway and designated as Route 'B' was chosen as the future alignment of the Trans-Canada Highway.[4] In 1941, British Columbia transitioned from lettered to numbered highways, with the Lower Mainland section of Route 'A' and all of Route 'B' becoming Highway 1, while the remainder of Route 'A' became Highway 3. Post-World War II, the BC government began to upgrade its highway system and on November 2, 1949, the Hope-Princeton Highway through Allison Pass and Sunday Summit was opened,[6] reducing the highway distance from approximately 300 km (185 mi) to 135 km (85 mi). In 1954, a new highway was constructed from Trail to Salmo and was designated as Highway 3A.[7][8] Highway 3A and Highway 6 shared a common alignment from Salmo to Nelson, meeting with Highway 3.[8] On November 7, 1957, the $4 million West Arm Bridge (also known as the Nelson Bridge) was opened across the West Arm of Kootenay Lake in Nelson,[9] replacing ferry service.

The Kinnard Bridge crossing the Columbia River in Castlegar.

The 1960s saw the construction of several major realignments and upgrades along the highway. In 1965, the Rossland-Sheep Lake Highway was completed,[10] linking to the new Christina Lake-Castlegar section through Bonanza Pass (opened in 1962 with the completion of the Paulson Bridge),[11] replacing a gravel mountain road that had connected Cascade City and Rossland.[12] The Kootenay Skyway from Salmo to Creston through Kootenay Pass opened on August 15, 1964, reducing the distance from 160 km (100 mi) to 80 km (50 mi), bypassing Nelson and Kootenay Lake Ferry.[12][13] As part of the Kootenay Skyway project, the bypassed section of Highway 3 became Highway 3A, while the bypassed section of Highway 3 between Trail and Castlegar became part of Highway 22. Highway 3A between Trail and Salmo, as well as the new Rossland-Sheep Lake Highway, became Highway 3B. On July 7, 1965, the Richter Pass section between Keremeos and Osoyoos opened[14] (the bypassed section became Highway 3A), along with the Kinnaird Bridge in Castlegar, bypassing the final ferry crossing.[11] In the morning hours of January 9, 1965, one of the largest landslides occurred in Canadian history occurred near Hope, killing four people; known as the Hope Slide. As a result, the highway had to be rerouted around and over the base of the slide's debris field.[15] According to the B.C. MOTI, the replacement road was built a relatively short period of thirteen days.[16] The highway built immediately after the slide has now been bypassed by a new four lane alignment to the south, which opened in 1982.[17][18]

With the opening of the Trans-Canada Highway through Rogers Pass in 1962,[11] Highway 1 became the preferred route between the Lower Mainland and Alberta. Efforts were made to promote the southern route as a more scenic alternative to the Trans-Canada Highway, beginning in the 1970s with a group from southern Alberta spearheading a proposal to rename Highway 3 in both provinces.[19] Their efforts were successful when the route was renamed the Crowsnest Highway in 1977, with new route shields appearing a few years later.[20] As part of the first phase of the Coquihalla Highway which opened in 1986, a 7 km (4 mi) section of the Crowsnest Highway was upgraded to a freeway, including a bypass of the old segment through Hope, which was renamed to Hope-Princeton Way.

As a result of the November 2021 Pacific Northwest floods, the Crowsnest Highway was damaged by landslides, while the Trans-Canada Highway and Coquihalla Highway had bridges that were completely washed out. Officials projected that Highway 3 would be the first of several damaged routes to reopen, and thus be the first to reconnect Canada's road network to Metro Vancouver.[21] After this occurred, Highway 3 suffered from a high rate of crashes as it experienced volumes of truck traffic traveling at speeds faster than posted speed limits.[22]

Major intersections

Regional DistrictLocationkm[1]miExitDestinationsNotes
Fraser ValleyHope0.000.00 Hwy 1 (TCH) west – VancouverFreeway and exit numbers continue west
170 Hwy 1 (TCH) east – Hope, Cache Creek, Prince GeorgeHope interchange
West end of Hwy 5 concurrency; no westbound exit
0.990.62171 To Hwy 1 (TCH) east – Hope, Cache CreekWestbound exit only
3.081.91173Old Hope-Princeton Way (Hwy 915:1300 west)Thacker Creek interchange
No westbound entrance
6.674.14177 Hwy 5 north (Coquihalla Highway) – Merritt, KamloopsOthello interchange
East end of Hwy 5 concurrency; Hwy 3 exits freeway; exit numbers continue on Hwy 5
↑ / ↓Manning Park58.0236.05Allison Pass – el. 1,342 m (4,403 ft)
Okanagan-Similkameen99.7761.99Sunday Summit – el. 1,284 m (4,213 ft)
Princeton133.9383.22  Hwy 5A north – Merritt, Kamloops
Keremeos201.11124.96 Hwy 3A north – Penticton
225.63140.20Nighthawk Road (Hwy 924:1318 south) – U.S. Border (Chopaka), Nighthawk
Osoyoos247.11153.55 Hwy 97 – Penticton, Kelowna, U.S. Border (Oroville)
248.80154.60Osoyoos Trestle Bridge across Osoyoos Lake
Kootenay Boundary287.81178.84Anarchist Summit – el. 1,233 m (4,045 ft)
Rock Creek299.12185.86 Hwy 33 north – Kelowna
Midway318.26197.76Florence Street (Hwy 933:1329 south) – U.S. Border (Midway)
Passes through Greenwood
368.53228.99 Hwy 41 south to SR 21 – U.S. Border (Carson)
Grand Forks371.13–
Passes through Grand Forks
Christina Lake392.10243.64 Hwy 395 south to US 395 – U.S. Border (Cascade), Spokane
406.39252.52Bonanza Pass – el. 1,535 m (5,036 ft)
441.53274.35 Hwy 3B east – Rossland, Trail
Central KootenayCastlegar467.95–
Hwy 22 south / Columbia Avenue – Castlegar City Centre, TrailKinnaird interchange
468.78291.29Kinnaird Bridge crosses Columbia River
469.21291.55 Hwy 3A east – NelsonOotischenia interchange
495.67308.00 Hwy 3B east – Trail, Rossland
Salmo506.07314.46 Hwy 6 north – NelsonWest end of Hwy 6 concurrency
520.23323.26 Hwy 6 south to SR 31 – U.S. Border (Nelway), SpokaneEast end of Hwy 6 concurrency.
543.27337.57Kootenay Pass – el. 1,774 m (5,820 ft)
582.34361.85Crosses the Kootenay River
Creston585.08363.55 Hwy 21 south to SH-1 – U.S. Border (Rykerts), Coeur d'Alene
586.50364.43 Hwy 3A north – Kootenay Lake Ferry, Nelson
Yahk626.59389.34 Hwy 95 south to US 95 – U.S. Border (Kingsgate), Coeur d'AleneWest end of Hwy 95 concurrency
East KootenayCranbrook692.53–
Passes through Cranbrook
698.91434.28 Hwy 95A north – KimberleyCranbrook interchange
704.34437.66 Hwy 93 north / Hwy 95 north – Fort Steele, Invermere, Radium Hot SpringsFort Steele interchange
east end of Hwy 95 concurrency; west end of Hwy 93 concurrency
730.34453.81Wardner Bridge across Kootenay River
730.81454.10Wardner Fort Steele Road (Hwy 935:1381 north) – Fort Steele
Elko760.08472.29 Hwy 93 south to US 93 – U.S. Border (Roosville), KalispellWest end of Hwy 93 concurrency
772.00479.70Elko Tunnel
Passes through Fernie
Sparwood821.89510.70 Hwy 43 north – Elkford
841.29522.75Crowsnest Pass (Continental Divide) – el. 1,358 m (4,455 ft)
Hwy 3 east (Crowsnest Highway) – Crowsnest Pass, Fort Macleod, LethbridgeContinues into Alberta
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also


  1. ^ a b Nicol, Matthew; Horel, Steve (July 2015). "Landmark Kilometre Inventory" (PDF). Cypher Consulting. pp. 74–113 – via British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
  2. ^ a b c d Davenport Maps (2016). Official British Columbia Road Map and Parks Guide (Map). 1:463,600. Victoria, British Columbia: Davenport Maps Ltd. §§ L9–L12.
  3. ^ Schlingloff, Jeff (2006). "Route Historical Timeline". Trail - Road - Rail construction timeline. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "The Trans-Provincial Highway". Opposite the City. November 26, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  5. ^ Rand McNally and Company (1939). "Western and Central Canada" (Map). State Farm Road Atlas: United States, Canada, Mexico. Chicago, IL: State Farm Insurance Companies Travel Bureau. pp. 94–95 – via David Rumsey Map Collection.
  6. ^ "Opening of the Hope-Princeton Highway, November 2, 1949". RBCM Archives. Royal BC Museum. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  7. ^ "Trail-Salmo Highway". Controlled Access Highways. BC Ministry of Transportation. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  8. ^ a b The H.M. Gousha Company (1956). "British Columbia - Alberta" (Map). Shell Map of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Shell Oil Company – via David Rumsey Map Collection.
  9. ^ Wilson, Donald Malcolm. "Time Line for South-western Canada (1949–1962)". The Virtual Crowsnest Highway.
  10. ^ Staff Writer (October 4, 1965). "17 Mile Road Opens in B.C." Vancouver Sun. ProQuest 2240431115. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Wilson, Donald Malcolm. "Time Line for South-western Canada (1962 - 1974)". The Virtual Crowsnest Highway.
  12. ^ a b "Frontier to Freeway: A short illustrated history of the roads in British Columbia" (PDF). British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways. pp. 20–21. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  13. ^ McAlpine, Ian (August 17, 1964). "Years of Hope Realized: 'Kootenay Skyway' Opens". Vancouver Sun. ProQuest 2240482043. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  14. ^ Staff Wirter; Okanagan Historical Society. "Richter Pass highway opened 46 years ago". Keremeos Review.
  15. ^ "Case Study 1: 1965 Hope Slide". British Columbia in a Global Context. Vancouver, BC: Geography Open Textbook Collective. 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  16. ^ "A BC Highways Perspective of the Hope Slide". BC MOTI. January 8, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  17. ^ "BC8318-093". GeoBC. October 12, 1982. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  18. ^ "BC81026-144". GeoBC. June 25, 1981. Retrieved September 26, 2021. Note the way the roads meet each other, showing that the new alignment had yet to be opened.
  19. ^ Jang, Phillip (October 22, 1979). "B.C. Crowsnest road name urged". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 11.
  20. ^ "It's more than just Highway 3". Medicine Hat News. August 14, 1978. p. 3. Retrieved April 5, 2022 – via
  21. ^ "Major BC highway could reopen this weekend as new photos show huge damage along Coquihalla". Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  22. ^ Britten, Liam (December 7, 2021). "Drivers urged to slow down on Hwy 3 as crashes mount on critical route for freight trucks". CBC News. Retrieved December 7, 2021.

External links