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Best/favorite way to cross border between British Columbia/Washington?


Oct 5th, 2009, 08:22 AM
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Best/favorite way to cross border between British Columbia/Washington?

Curious what people think is the best way to cross the border between British Columbia and Washington since this will help me figure out how to structure my intinerary for a PNW trip in August 2010. Some places we will be going include Alaska, cruising Inside Passage, Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Victoria, Olympic peninsula, and Seattle.
laminmd is offline  
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Oct 5th, 2009, 08:51 AM
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First, it really depends on your mode of travel. The Port Angeles < > Victoria ferry and the Anacortes < > Sidney ferry are probably the fastest overall, as the inspections take place at the docks.

On the mainland for now the train is probably the easiest, as you clear both Canadian (inbound) and US (outbound) formalities at the Vancouver train station. Flying is hit-and-miss; again, both US and Canadian formalities are at YVR airport, which can be easy or hyper-congested depending on time of day, arrival/departure of other flights, etc.

By car, both countries have spent a lot of money upgrading the border facilities at Blaine (WA). There are two vehicle crossings - the "Peace Arch" main crossing (I-5/BC 99) which is for passenger vehicles only, and the "Truck" ("Pacific Highway") crossing a mile or so east, which handles both passenger and commercial/truck/bus traffic. However, waits can still be hit-and-miss, depending on day of week, time of day, price of gas in Canada, etc. Last week on a Friday afternoon I waited 20 min. to cross at the Peace Arch, and later that evening the reader boards on BC 99 coming back to the border said the wait was 60 min for southbound traffic at the Peace Arch, and 30 min. at the truck crossing. We took the truck crossing and it was actually 20 min.

That was in late September of course (however a Friday evening, a very busy time). In August the traffic will be heavier, but usually both border posts staff up so that there are more gates open.

Note the Q & A and show and tell at both inspection points was noticeably more lengthy than in the past. If you're not traveling on a US or Canadian passport I suspect the delay can be quite long.

There are several crossing points farther east (Aldergrove, Sumas etc.) which can have shorter delays (or not) but in my experience things really have to be nasty at Blaine before the total elapsed time (into/out of central Vancouver, if that's the aim) equalizes. In other words, you cut east to the border, then have to go back west to the city, with the total travel time + border equaling or exceeding the time you would have spent just waiting in the queues at Blaine.
Gardyloo is offline  
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Oct 5th, 2009, 03:22 PM
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My first choice, if I needed a car, would be Port Angeles/ Victoria Ferry. If I didn't need a car and was headed for Vancouver, I'd go with the train.
Like Gardyloo, I think Blaine is as easy as any place if you want to drive to Vancouver and/or beyond.
boom_boom is offline  
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Oct 5th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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I'm with boom_boom on this one.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
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Oct 8th, 2009, 01:50 PM
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i agree w/ all of the above but I usually drive and use the truck route in and out w/ a stop at Duty Free to purchase something and cut the line in half. It's the only way.
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