The Great Northern

Following US‑2 through wide-open spaces is guaranteed to bring new meaning to the expression “getting away from it all.”

Driving in Canada

Between the United States and Canada, the rules of the road don’t really change, but the measurements do. Both countries drive on the right, and the speed limits are similar: In Canada it’s generally 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour on two-lane roads, 100 kph (63 mph) on freeways. All cars are required to have their headlights illuminated night and day; to the unaccustomed, a daytime traffic jam can look like a massive funeral procession. Other rules: All passengers must wear seat belts, and turning right on red is no longer illegal in the Province of Quebec, but it is on Montreal Island; in the rest of Canada, turning right on red is legal so long as you stop first. Deciphering parking zones, especially in French-speaking Quebec, can really test your interpretive abilities.

Gas (essence in Quebec) north of the border tends to be more expensive than in the States, and it’s priced by the liter (3.785 liters equal 1 U.S. gallon). Some gas stations accept U.S. currency, and almost all accept credit cards, but often they give you a less-than-favorable rate of exchange.

Crossing the border, there are brief checkpoints (and sundry duty-free shops) on both sides. Customs officers usually do a cursory check, asking your address, reason for travel, when you last visited the country, and whether you are carrying firearms, tobacco, or alcohol. The rules are subject to change, but all travelers need to have a passport, even U.S. or Canadian citizens. People of other nationalities should double-check their visa status well before attempting to cross the border, otherwise it may be difficult (or impossible) to return to the United States, and border officials have been known to confiscate vehicles and arrest people they suspect are trying to enter the United States illegally.


Related Travel Maps

Map of the Great Northern through Canada (East).

Map of the Great Northern through Canada (East).

Map of the Great Northern through Canada (West).

Map of the Great Northern through Canada (West).