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megarfield Jun 15th, 2007 01:58 PM

Border Crossing Seattle to Vancouver
We'll be driving across the border in our car for a day trip from Seattle to Vancouver. We plan to drive up on Tues, July 3rd, and hopefully avoid any excess of Canada Day or 4th of July travellers.

I've read lots about the delays at the border. Is Tues morning a reasonable choice? What time should we leave Seattle in the morning to avoid the worst of rush hour, but still have enough time to spend in Vancouver? And is there a best time in the evening to return to go through the US border?

(We're from the San Francisco Bay Area and used to spending an hour to drive 10 miles on the freeway, so heavy traffic doesn't frighten us - LOL!)

Thanks for any help or ideas.

sludick Jun 15th, 2007 06:15 PM

I'm sure the locals on this board will give you some good advice. BUT -- based on recent experience, you may be going up at a very busy time. We went up on Saturday after Memorial Day. There, we waited about 1-1/2 hours at Peace Arch. In fact, somebody in a car a little bit ahead of us actually fell asleep waiting,since we just were not moving. That created some fancy slow-motion detours, until he finally woke up.

I have family in the Everett/ Marysville area. For them, Vancouver is just a commute drive, so they (and others of their ilk) are very likely to head for Vancouver over the long weekend, or just for the day.

I'll be interested to hear what sort of advice is given here, and also to hear your experiences when you come back -- we'll be up there again on the Friday after Labor Day (we're suckers for punishment!)

llamalady Jun 15th, 2007 09:33 PM

We've found that by crossing at the
Aldergrove (Lynden) point we've been
able to avoid the horrible line-ups
at Peace Arch.

To get to the Aldergrove border you
leave I5 at the Bellis Fair exit and
just drive north through Lynden.

After you enter Canada you continue
on the same road until it intersects
with Highway 1 and then follow the
signage to Vancouver.

Sorry about the vagueness of the
directions - I travel by memory!

BowenLinda Jun 15th, 2007 10:02 PM

I think that is a fairly horrible day to cross the border as you are smack in-between the Canadian and U.S. holiday, and additional travellers will take an extra day or two off work, let alone schools being out.

I crossed the border last Saturday at Aldergrove (Lynden on the US side) and sat on the Canadian side for 1H50M. Had planned for a 10 am cross. This was my first time at this crossing, and I wouldn't use it again. Too small. I would use the truck crossing at 176th Street on the Canadian side (don't know what it's called on the U.S. side). Peace Arch will be busier.

Good luck (but I'll probably be in line-up, too!).

Carmanah Jun 15th, 2007 10:10 PM

It's just called the 'truck crossing'. Take I5 as far north as you can. Just before you get to the Peace Arch border crossing (the largest border crossing in the region in a monumental garden-like setting), you take the last freeway exit in the town of Blaine. By the time you're this close to the border, it becomes painfully obvious. There will be signs saying, "truck crossing, such-and-such exit number". It's all of what... half a mile east from I5, but can potentially save you loads of time crossing. Once you cross, you're on a main road in an agricultural zone. There will be signs telling you to turn left at the next major intersection. You travel a short distance after turning left, and you merge back onto the freeway. Except in Canada it's no longer Interstate 5 (as we don't have states, so no such thing as "interstates" in Canada)... it's just called Highway 99. And that takes you right into the heart of downtown Vancouver.

I also agree - any day during a long weekend will be the busiest time at a border crossing.

NorthwestMale Jun 16th, 2007 08:59 AM

Hi, I'm a "local" who actually crosses the border both ways 10 to 25 times per year.

You are being largely misled about crossing at the time indicated.

Most serious border delays occur when going from Canada TO the USA (all of that heightened security, y'know).

While they are factually correct about "Canada Day" (July 1) and our July 4th having an impact, there is no logical reason why Canadians would be crossing back into Canada in greater numbers on Tuesday morning July 3.

Nor is there a giant reason for U.S. citizens to be heading to Canada for a midweek U.S. holiday that Canada doesn't celebrate.

I've been crossing that border for decades, and I ALWAYS take exit #275, to the previously mentioned "Truck Customs", where the traffic is typically lighter, especially during tourist season.

(in full detail, this entails taking the last freeway exit before the border - and I am certain it is #275 - and just going straight, up a little hill, and down immediately to the border crossing. If you want to go back to the main freeway into Vancouver, turn left at the first intersection into Canada, and follow signs.)

NOTE: Gas, fast food, and grocery items you might need ARE available off exit #275

You won't have any problems at all if you say that you're fully familiar with sitting in traffic.

I would say that, worst case, you'll get there and have a 20-minute wait in the border line.

When to leave Seattle depends upon what spot on the Seattle map you're leaving from. Pretending you're leaving from downtown Seattle, heading north... if you left at 8:30am, you'd likely be fine as you'd be heading against the flow of the rush hour.

You'll find that it gets light out before 5:00am up here, and if that inspires you up early then you wouldn't be hurting yourself by leaving way early, and giving yourself lots of time in Vancouver (it is really worth it!).

As for your return trip... I practice, and recommend, pushing your stay well into the late evening, and only THEN setting out for the 2 1/2-ish hour trip from Vancouver back to Seattle.

(straight freeway trip with no confusion, once you're back in the USA)

IF I were you, I'd finish my long day in Vancouver after 8pm, and then set sail for the border then... no use worrying about any border delays if the time could be better spent touring Vancouver.

In fact, when I make this trip, I am often in Vancouver until 11pm or later before returning home. Daylight in Vancouver will last until about 10pm then, and the mountains are gorgeous when surrounded by the evening sky.

Anyway, make your planned trip with confidence, and you'll be fine.

In summary, "leave on the early side and stay on the late side (of your instincts)".

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