Intensely scenic, the
Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) crosses paths with two historic routes, the Pemberton
Trail and the Gold Rush Heritage Trail, which linked the coast with
the interior in the days before the automobile. Along these ancient pathways,
generations of Coast Salish people traded with their relations in the Fraser Canyon,
while in the 1850s, prospectors stampeded north towards the Cariboo gold fields.
The Coast Mountains
By the mid 1960s, the prospect of skiers heading from Vancouver to the fledgling
trails on Whistler Mountain, prompted the provincial government to open a road
north from Horseshoe Bay through Squamish to Whistler.
being a premium along steep-sided Howe Sound, North American's southernmost fjord,
the road and railway parallel each other for much of the 28 miles (45 km) between
Horseshoe Bay and Squamish. By 1975 the highway was pushed through to Pemberton,
and by 1995 the last stretch of gravel road was paved between Pemberton and Lillooet.
Today, vehicles breeze along the entire route in five hours, the time it took
in the 1960s to make the journey just from Horseshoe Bay to Whistler.
Vancouver, along the Sea to Sky corridor, north of Horseshoe Bay travellers
trace the coastline of Howe Sound as this cliff-hugging highway winds precariously
through a dramatic glacier-carved landscape. Of all the natural features in this
area, none have greater visual presence than the Lions, or the Two Sisters, as
they are called by local Native peoples. Geologists believe that these two peaks
are the remnants of a volcanic cone.
Cove Provincial Park, north of Horseshoe Bay, offers swimming, fishing and
excellent scuba diving. Stop at the BC Museum of Mining in Britannia Beach - the
old Britannia Copper Mine is now a National Historic site. With almost a half-million
visitors annually, Shannon Falls Provincial Park
is one of the most beautiful picnic spots in the entire Sea to Sky corridor -
extensive picnic grounds surround the base of BC's third-highest waterfall.
Next stop is Squamish, situated at the head of Howe Sound, and surrounded
by the sheer faces of the Coast Mountains. Squamish is cradled in natural beauty,
as only a west coast town can be. Squamish is well known for two features that
outdoors people will appreciate: winds peculiar to the area provide some of the
best windsurfing anywhere on the Pacific Coast; and there's spectacular hiking
and rock climbing at the Stawamus Chief Mountain, the largest free-standing granite
monoliths in the world.
Whistler is a European-style resort, which
has been recognized as one of the top five international skiing destinations,
and arguably the best, in North America. In the summer months Whistler offers
a bounty of activities including alpine sightseeing, mountain biking, hiking,
river rafting, horseback riding and backcountry tours. Or ride a gondola chair
to the top of one of the mountains for breathtaking vistas of the surrounding
Pemberton is about 30 minutes north of Whistler. As the
Pemberton Valley opens up, so too does the number of roads leading off from Highway
99, providing quick access to hiking, climbing, and mountain biking routes that
will be of interest to those seeking backcountry adventure.
Visit Hat Creek
is reached along Hwy 99 from Pemberton. Like many of the towns in the Cariboo,
Lillooet was born of the gold rush, and within twenty years of its founding, the
town had swelled to almost 15,000 residents. Rockhounds and history buffs will
find Lillooet to be a real treasure. Lillooet is also a contender for the most
unusual gold course in B.C. - a local sheep farmer has converted his scenic farm
into a golf course. Watch where you step!
at the gold rush town of Cache Creek and visit Hat Creek Ranch,
and the 1862 roadhouse that served the teams and passengers of the B.C. Express
Stage Line that travelled the original Cariboo Wagon Road.Continue
your journey to Lytton, located where the green waters of the Thompson
River meet the brown, silt-laden rushing waters of the mighty Fraser River. Lytton
is perhaps best known as the "Rafting Capital of Canada" - numerous first-class
commercial rafting companies guide visitors through the white waters of these
adventurous river routes. Lytton was also on the path taken by hardy prospectors
who made there way north to the gold fields. Gold rush history and native culture
is evident in the different buildings and activities, such as Remembrance Day
Pow Wow. Definitely a destination of unique and exciting adventures! Want a closer
look at Hell's Gate? Take the airtram for breathtaking views of the Fraser River
as it roars through this famous gorge.
On your way back to Vancouver,
visitors will want to spend several days exploring the lush Fraser Valley.
Hope is a pretty little town with great appeal for outdoor adventures. Kawkawa
Lake Park is nearby, as is Coquihalla Canyon Provincial
Park. Not far away is Manning Provincial Park,
with more lakes and hiking trails. The local joke here is that no matter which
way you are going, the rest of B.C. is "beyond Hope".
After a hectic
day of sightseeing, relax and rejuvenate the soul at the Harrison Hot Springs.
Called the "Spa of Canada", Harrison Hot Springs
is a resort town with recreation and health at the forefront.
your circle tour with a stop at Chilliwack, Cultus Lake, Abbotsford,
Langley and Fort Langley.
on or near this Route - Click on a town name to learn more about that town.