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Yellowhead Highway Itinerary: Edson to Edmonton

What to See and do Edson to Edmonton

This part of the Yellowhead moves from foothills to farmland to the dense urban areas in and around Edmonton, Alberta’s capital city and industrial centre, with great shopping and many cultural attractions and festivals.

Yellowhead Highway Overview: Edson to Edmonton portion

The 166 km (1:50 hours) section of the Yellowhead Highway from  Edson to Edmonton descends through foothills and farmland

Edson is home to a diverse range of industries, including forestry, oil and gas, and agriculture. Edson is also a popular destination for outdoor recreation, with numerous parks, trails, and lakes located in the surrounding area. Cost-saving recomendation: If heading west, Hinton is the last cheap gas before the mountain parks and BC. Fill up in Hinton. If heading eastbound, fill up in BC (Prince George, McBride, Tete Jaune Cache) enough to get here and then TOP UP your gas tank here.

After passing Chip Lake on the north side of the highway, you pass through the town of Evansburg and cross  the Pembina River.

Just a bit further east, the Yellowhead Highway #16 reaches the town of Entwistle, which is located at the junction of Highway 16 and Highway 22. Hihgway 22 heads south and is called The Cowboy Trail. This area is very big in oil & gas production, with a major commerical centre of Drayton Valley on that route

Then you pass Wabamun Lake on the sourth side of the highway, and the town of Wabamun. On the north side of the highway is an expanse of a coal mine, which powered an electrical generating station here. Wabamun is also a lakeside recreational comunity very close to Edmonton. Just east of Wabamun is the turnoff for Highway 43, the unoffical start of the Alaska Highway, which passes through Mayerthorpe, Whitecourt, Fox Creek, Valleyview, and Grande Prairie before crossing into BC to Dawson Creek, the official start of the Alaska Highway.

Edmonton-city skyline-sliver
Edmonton-city skyline-sliver

Edmonton Area

As you approach Edmonton, you will pass through suburban and urban areas as Yellowhead Highway #16 heads thorough the city of Spruce Grove. This is a point where you can head south on Highway 60 which goes through Devon and then Leduc and Edmonton International Airport which lies on Highway 2, officially now the Queen Elizabeth II Highway south to Red Deer, Calgary (just 3 hours south), the Main Route of the Trans-Canada, and the United States.

As you mover further in to Edmonton, you hit#216 the Edmonton Ring Road, officially the Anthony Henday Trail. Head North to St Albert, Namao, and Fort Saskatchewan. Head south on Anthony Henday Trail for Leduc , Nisku, Beaumont, Wetaskiwin, and Camrose. Also to the south of the Yellowhead,  via the Henday,  is the world famous West Edmonton Mall (with over 800 stores and services, which was at one point, the worlds largest shopping mall).

Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta, a government centre, and the cenre of central Alberta’s oilfield production and refining. The city has THREE DOWNTOWNS, the municipal downtown around city hall and Churchill Square, the business/retail downtown along Jasper Avenue between 100 and 105 Street, and the provincial government downtown along 107 Street, south of Jasper Avenue.  You can get to these three downtowns from the Yellowhead by taking the St Albert Trail / Groat Road Exit from the west, or take the 107 Street exit from the east.

South of the North Saskatchewan River is both the Univesrity of Alberta campus and the popular Whyte Avenue retail and nightclub district. This area is also where most of the city’s  35 annual festivals (from the International Fringe Theatre Festival to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival) are hosted.

Also on the southside of the North Saskatchewan River and east of downtown are the Refinery District (where the area’s oil production is refined into various products including automotive gasoline, and purified for shipping in pipelines heading east, south, and west), and  Strathcona County. You can get  to and from the Yellowhead Highway (east of the city) from these  areas via the #216 Anthony Henday Trail.

Edmonton-West Edmonton Mall Waterpark-sliver
Edmonton-West Edmonton Mall Waterpark-sliver

History of the Yellowhead Highway:  Edson to Edmonton portion

After World War One (“The Great War”, in those days) a  railway surveyor suggested that the abandoned railway grade would make a firm foundation for a highway. That idea was adopted by the  Edmonton Automobile and Good Roads Association, which began to push for the Yellowhead Highway.  Charles Neiymer and Frank Silverthorne  began the first automobile journey (in an Overland Four) through the Yellowhead Pass in 1922, reaching Victoria 21 days later.

During the Second World War many Japanese-Canadians were removed from the residences on the coast and relocated in wartime  internment camps in other areas. Construction camps at Lucerne, Rainbow, Red Pass, Albreda, and Tete Jaune Cache housed over 1500 Japanese-Canadians, mostly single men. These were assigned to upgrade 30 kilometres of abandoned railroad grade into a truck road and constructed an additional 40 kilometres of new road over steep grades. A total of 19 bridges were built. By 1944 the road  between Edmonton and Jasper was open.

By 1969 the tote road had been more or less reconstructed and finally paved. In August of 1970, the Premier of British Columbia , W.A.C. Bennett, officially opened the Yellowhead Inter-provincial Highway.

Edmonton’s Yellowhead Trail and the Henday Drive Bypass

The Yellowhead Highway becomes Yellowhead Trail between Edmonton’s westerly border, 231 Street just before Anthony Henday Trail,  and is a busy route across the city until it reaches Anthony Henday Drive in Strathcona County at the city’s eastern border. This route gets a lot of cross-town traffic, and is worth avoiding during morning and afternoon rush hours. Due to heavy congestion, Edmonton outlined a $1 billion plan in late 2016 to upgrade Yellowhead Trail to a controlled-access freeway, eliminating at-grade intersections and constructing new interchanges. Work began in 2019 and is planned for completion in late 2027.

As of mid-2023, Yellowhead Trail east of 50 Street has been widened from two to three lanes, with the interchange at Victoria Trail having been reconfigured. Conversion to freeway standards west of St. Albert Trail is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023, which will see the removal of all at-grade crossings, particularly at 142 and 149 Streets. Access to these streets will be provided by right-in/right-out service roads.

in 2024, work will continue between Fort Road and 50 Street, with the elimination of all remaining at-grade crossings, straightening of the alignment north of the former City-Centre Airport lands, and adding  service roads and interchanges at 127 Street, 121 Street and 66 Street.

A suburban bypass of the route was begun in 1971 as Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) connecting Highway 2 to-from Calgary with Highway 16 West. It was finally completed as a ring road when the northeast leg of Anthony Henday Drive opened in late 2016, providing an alternate route through north Edmonton. The province of Alberta has since invested $100 million to expand Anthony Henday from four to six lanes (3 in each direction) so the existing 18 kilometre Anthony Henday  expansion will accommodate up to 120,000 vehicles per day.

Route Elevation Chart

Yellowhead Highway Elevation Chart AB: Edson-Edmonton
Yellowhead Highway Elevation Chart AB: Edson-Edmonton

Map of Yellowhead Highway from Edson to Edmonton

Route Itinerary Details

Coming soon…