If you plan on crossing the border between Canada and the US, you’ll have plenty of options. But some are much better than others.
However, if you’re unfamiliar with certain waypoints, you could be in for a stressful and timely surprise. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
Today, we’re exploring the best and worst places to drive into the Great White North.
Let’s dive in!
About Canada Border Crossings
Crossing an international border can be stressful. Knowing what documents you need and which items you shouldn’t have on board is enough to cause anxiety. But add dense traffic, accidents, and road work, and you might have a rough ride.
The line separating Canada from the US is the world’s longest international border. And it’s not just the boundary with the Lower 48. There’s also one between Canada and Alaska.
A total of 119 land border crossings for vehicles exist between the two countries, with others for marine traffic and railways.
More than 30 million vehicles traverse this frontier every year. And while traffic flows both ways, it’s typically busier for those crossing into the US. Summers, weekends, and major holidays bring many people to the border, so you’ll experience longer wait times to get across.
The 5 Worst Canada Border Crossings
Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of seeking out an easy place to cross the border. But if you have the option, steer clear of these five locations.
#1 Peace Bridge, New York
This border crossing near Niagara Falls is one of the busiest routes to and from Canada. It’s on a strip of land between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, separating New York from Toronto.
Trucking traffic is heavy year-round, so there’s no ideal time to pass through.
However, it’s open around the clock for private vehicles. It’s also close to several other crossing ports, so you should be able to find a different route if this one is too hectic.
#2 Windsor Tunnel, Michigan
In contrast to the Peace Bridge, Detroit’s Windsor Tunnel is largely for personal vehicles and small commercial trucks. But just because there’s less transit traffic doesn’t mean it’s a quicker route.
The tunnel only has one lane of traffic heading in either direction, so it won’t necessarily be smooth sailing once you make it through customs. And if you’re in an RV, the tunnel’s clearance height of 13 feet and two inches may restrict you from passing through.
Keep in mind that the Windsor Tunnel is also the second busiest border crossing between the US and Canada. Our suggestion is to avoid this waypoint if at all possible.
#3 Peace Arch, Washington
If you’re traveling between Seattle and Vancouver, you’ll probably want to avoid the Peace Arch. Despite prohibiting commercial traffic from using the crossing, it’s the third most congested port.
We hear that wait times can be as long as four hours on a bad day. And even worse, their operating hours are limited, so you’ll need to time your trip just right.
But you’ll have many other options in the area, with at least seven other border crossings into Canada nearby.
#4 Blue Water Bridge, Michigan
Unfortunately for Michigan, all its border crossings rank in the top ten for high traffic. Both commercial and passenger vehicles use the Blue Water Bridge. And the general area is a major hub for transportation, so it’s always congested.
Cars and RVs have to use the same entry points. This means you could have to wait for customs agents to search the motorhomes ahead of you before passing through. While Blue Water Bridge offers more lanes than the Windsor Tunnel, we can’t say it’ll be any faster.
#5 Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, New York
Back in the Niagara Falls area, you’ll find the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. This border crossing into Canada beats the nearby Peace Bridge, but not by much.
It’s not uncommon to see backups spanning five miles on busy days. In fact, this happens so often that border control frequently closes the exit to the bridge and redirects international traffic to other entry ports.
This waypoint has FAST lanes and E-ZPasses for frequent users. However, they have limited hours and often close on holidays.
The 3 Best Alternative Canada Border Crossings
Certain locations are easier to get through than others. Whether it’s because they’re more remote or simply more efficient, you’ll have an easier time crossing the border into Canada at one of these stations.
#1 Sumas, Washington
Despite heavy traffic at the Sumas border crossing, the officials here have their system down to a science. Locals say it’s one of the least stressful ports in the state. It’s open 24 hours and has designated lanes for personal vehicles and commercial traffic.
While it’s a bit more remote than a direct passage into Vancouver, going further out of the way could make your trips much easier. From the US, the route will take you to Abbotsford.
And from there, it’s just a quick jaunt to the Couve.
#2 Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, New York
We’ve seen the worst border crossing points near Niagara Falls, but Whirlpool Rapids Bridge is a great alternative route into Canada. You’ll get through much faster than the other ports, but there’s a catch. Everyone in your vehicle must have a NEXUS pass.
If you’re unfamiliar with this document, it’s a form of identification that serves as a “trusted traveler” notice. It’s great for people who make frequent trips across the border and can save you a lot of time.
#3 Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, Michigan
For an easy border crossing in Michigan, check out the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge. This unique structure separates commercial and passenger vehicles into upper and lower plazas, creating a seamless crossing experience.
It’s open 24 hours and has designated lanes for NEXUS and FAST pass holders. If you’re in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this route will lead you to Ontario.
Crossing the Border Into Canada Can Be Easy
Whether you’re heading into Canada or the US, there’s no shortage of border crossing stations to choose from. The US Customs and Border Control website has a great feature that allows you to check current wait times. It’ll also help you pick the best hours and days to travel.
And if you fall in love with the borderlands, you can always get a NEXUS card or a FAST pass to make frequent trips a breeze!
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