Compiled by the Road Trip Alberta team
Last updated on January 8, 2024
Alberta is a vast province, and that fact is most notable when starting to venture into its northern half. Roads are longer and towns along the way become fewer. Wildlife becomes more plentiful (watch for movement in the ditches when driving), and the scenery can be, well, more scenic! The drive from Edmonton to Grande Prairie is one of the most popular routes north.
Given how busy the industrial city of Grande Prairie is, the fastest route there can be a crowded one. It is a long drive, and we can certainly understand that you might want to just boot it there as quickly as possible, but we’ve also offered an alternate route to take you off the beaten path. Yes, it will add some significant time to your drive, but as you skirt the Rocky Mountains along the way, it will offer many more beautiful views.
About the Route
The distance from Edmonton to Grande Prairie depends on the route you choose. The fastest route is approximately 450 kilometres. The alternative scenic route is over 600 kilometres. It’s up to you which way you go.
The fastest route from Edmonton to Grande Prairie is directly north on Highway 43. Once in Valleyview, the 43 will veer west and lead you directly to your destination. This fastest route will still take a driver at least 4.5 hours, considering it is 458 km of twinned roads. Keep in mind that this time estimate is only valid under good conditions; any kind of traffic, construction, or adverse weather might affect your driving time and travel plans.
Scenic Alternate Route
There are some moments of lovely scenery driving the fast route, but if you’ve got time to spare and want a more scenic drive, consider taking Highway 16 west to Highway 40 north via Grande Cache. This route spans over 625kms and the drive will take approximately 6.5 hours.
Just arrived in Edmonton and want a good night’s rest before making the drive north? We’ve got two options for you below.
Four Points by Sheraton Edmonton Airport is a straightforward hotel that is only 5 minutes from the airport. It has free wifi, an indoor pool, and a hot tub.
Candlewood Suites West Edmonton is very near the city’s ring road and your journey’s start of Highway 16. It also happens to be near West Edmonton Mall, so if you need to get your shopping fix before leaving the city, this is a great option.
Getting from Edmonton to Grande Prairie
If you are flying into the Edmonton International Airport to begin your trip, add at least 30 minutes to your drive as the airport is beyond the city’s southern limits. The Edmonton airport offers plenty of car rental options. Book in advance to lessen the hassle:
- We recommend booking via RentalCars.com to select the cheapest rate or to book with whichever company you prefer.
If you are not interested in a traditional car rental through an agency, you can also rent cars through a website called Turo (think AirBnB for car rentals).
Even though it is a long trip, as you will read below, there are several places where you can get out of the car and enjoy a break from all the driving. The road is mostly flat, well maintained, and offers some excellent photo opportunities depending on the time of the day.
Please be mindful of driving conditions, especially in winter. While Alberta’s highways are in great shape and well-maintained, snowstorms can wreak havoc for days at a time, and construction can slow things down in summer. Learn more about Alberta’s road laws and driving guidelines. In addition, check current road reports before you leave.
There are currently two bus companies offering rides. Keep in mind that travelling by bus can extend your time on the road, with some journeys lasting up to 7 hours.
- Cold Shot – This transportation company offers two departures (almost) every day. One-way fares cost $79.
- EBus – The Edmonton to Grande Prairie bus trip runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday (and the same days for the return trip). As of June 2022, a one-way ticket costs $87 and these bus rides take approximately 5 hours.
Direct flights from Edmonton (YEG) to Grande Prairie (YQU) are offered by Westjet and Air Canada. There are a number of daily flights between the two airports.
By Other Options
- Taxis or Uber might be an option; they should be easy to find in Edmonton, but given how far the trip is, it may be difficult to find someone who wants to drive that route. (Not to mention, it will be super expensive.)
- Consider Poparide.com for possible carpooling. At the moment of writing this article there weren’t any cars available but make sure you check near your travel date. There might be some. Poparide charges per seat, so you have an opportunity to meet other visitors or, better yet, locals.
Fun Things to Do Along the Way
The Fastest Route
- If the weather is nice, you might want to stop at the Hard Luck Canyon trail in Whitecourt. This small 0.8km loop trail, just about a 2-hour drive from your starting point, is a perfect place to stretch your legs and see a beautiful forest and river.
- Just before you get to Grande Prairie, you will see the Crooked Creek Store. According to locals, you cannot drive by without stopping in for doughnuts. So don’t!
The Alternate Route
- Hinton is home to a 3km long fresh-water boardwalk. Beaver Boardwalk is a great place for you to go and explore the wetland system around Maxwell Lake. And yes, if you aren’t being too noisy you have a high chance of seeing cute beavers working away on their dams.
- There are lots of options for adventure in Grande Cache, but we recommend enjoying the Muskeg Falls hike. This is another great place to stop, get some fresh air, and stretch your legs over 1.6 km of a well-kept trail that ends up on a gorgeous waterfall.
- Hot Tip: If passing through Grande Cache often, get the Passport to the Peaks and tackle a new hike every time!
Upon Arrival in Grande Prairie
You made it!
For more information about Grande Prairie and the best things to do there, you can take a look at the local tourism office.
Where to Stay in Grande Prairie
Grande Prairie has plenty of quality accommodations with availability; here are our recommendations.
Podollan Inn & Spa: Conveniently located close to the airport and downtown, this hotel features a full-service spa and sauna. You’ll love the underground heated parking in winter, the hot breakfast, and the onsite restaurant. Guests routinely comment positively about the cleanliness of the rooms and the friendliness of the staff.
Four Points by Sheraton: The Four Points series of hotels is always a good bet, and this location in Grande Prairie is no exception. The rooms are bright and clean; guests enjoy the onsite bar, indoor pool, and fitness centre.
If you plan on spending some time in Edmonton before heading north, check out our complete guide of the best things to do in Edmonton.
Also, amp up the fun on your big drive by downloading our FREE Road Trip Alberta bingo cards! (The “foodie” one includes the Crooked Creek doughnuts, so you know you can already check off one square there!)