Squamish, Pemberton, Britannia Beach, Whistler, Sea-to-Sky Country British Columbia Canada
Squamish, Pemberton, Britannia Beach, Whistler, Sea-to-Sky Country British Columbia Canada

Sea-to-Sky Country:
From Vancouver to Pemberton,
British Columbia, Canada

Truly Canadian
Welcome to Sea-to-Sky Country! As the name suggests, Sea-to-Sky Country takes you from ocean to mountain. The natural beauty of this spectacular area, with its towering mountains, cascading rivers, brilliant white glaciers, and the glittering blue Howe Sound is difficult to put in words. This beautiful spot is just half an hour from Vancouver downtown along Highway 99. The highway is also called Sea-to-Sky Highway, as it takes you on winding roads from the picturesque Horseshoe Bay to the mountain communities of Britannia Beach, Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, and Lillooet.

The 2-hour drive from Vancouver to Pemberton along the Sea-to-Sky Highway 99 is very spectacular. Howe Sound Inlet together with Bowen Island and other Islands loom into view along the fjord coastline for part of the journey and then through walls of mountain rock interspersed with tall green forests.

On your way you will pass Porteau Cove Provincial Park, which is a popular picnic spot as well as a mecca for scuba divers, who explore old sunken ship wrecks in shallow water.

In Britannia Beach you will find one of the world's great mines, that produced more than 56 million tons of copper, before it shut down in 1974. Today, you can explore the Britannia mine by visiting the B.C. Museum of Mining, that offers very interesting guided tours in the mine's tunnels.

The journey warrants a few of stops on the way; first, at Shannon Falls, which can be seen from the road. This is a great little park to pull into and stretch the legs and feel the spray of the magnificent falls, while Squamish is a convenient place to stop to refuel and take beverage at one of the many little coffee shops in town.

Squamish is named after a Coast Salish word and means 'Mother of the Wind' and refers to bountiful breezes, that make Squamish to Canada's windsurfing capital. Squamish is one of the top 10 recreational destinations in Canada and is popular with rock climbers, windsurfers, sailors, hikers, and Hollywood location scouts alike. Squamish is located on the head of Howe Sound, 45 kilometres north of Horseshoe Bay. The West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish is the place to go for all railroad lovers. You can tour authentic railway equipment, historical cars and a miniature railway.

Squamish hosts the PRO-AM Sailboard Races, the Squamish Logger Days, where competitors from around the world showcase their skills, and the Squamish Open Annual Regatta Sailboat Races. There are also great historical and geological attractions around Squamish to discover. The colossal monolith Stawamus Chief offers more than 200 climbing routes and is the world's second largest monolith. The Chief is just north of Shannon Falls and has been in several action adventure films, with stars including Sylvester Stallone.

Just north of Squamish, you will find Alice Lake Provincial Park with beautiful lakeshores, ideal for swimming, canoeing, fishing and hiking. Between Squamish and Pemberton, Garibaldi Provincial Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. There are five access points, with trailheads starting between 4 km to 16 km off Highway 99.

The third stop is at Whistler, North America's #1 ski & snowboard resort with its many boutiques and tourist attractions, especially the Gondola ride to the top of the mountain. In summer people often take their mountain bikes on the upward journey in the hope of seeing a bear below, and to enjoy the challenge of riding down the mountain. The glacier at the top glistening white against the blue sky is where the National ski team practice in the summer.

Whistler marks the largest ski area on the continent, with 2,862 hectares of skiable terrain, and more than 200 marked trails. Whistler features the most extensive high-speed lift system in the world, with 15 express lifts in a total system of 33 lifts.

The Whistler Village is pedestrian-only and boasts a wide variety of unique shops, boutiques, restaurants, hotels, lodges and bed & breakfasts. Whistler is a year-round playground, with golf, hiking, horseback riding, summer glacier skiing and snowboarding, cycling, canoeing, and musical entertainment. In winter Whistler is a paradise for all snow-related activities, such as alpine & cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snow shoeing. However, Whistler is a very popular tourist destination, with a light and relaxing atmosphere.

On the final stage of the journey there is another falls at Nairn Provincial Park which is worthy of seeing. However, if there is not enough time, a 1/2-hour trail away from Highway 99 can be taken another day, this starts at One Mile Lake and is located at the entrance to Pemberton, just a mile from the centre (hence its name) and winding between the forest trees up to Nairn Falls.

Dropping down the hill to the 600ft. level, away from the hustle and bustle of Whistler at 2,000ft. level at the base and from the falls, the only traffic lights in the area highlight the entrance to the Village of Pemberton, with a population of 1,500(approx) and a further 3,000(approx) in the area. Surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains, this is primarily a farming river valley, and is noted as Canada's seed potato capital, with logging now taking second place. Tourism has increased throughout BC and Pemberton receives a good share of these guests who frequently stop for a few days in summer at one of the Bed and Breakfast accommodations in the area.

In Summer, there is good reason to stay a few days in the Pemberton Valley as there are many outdoor activities to choose from i.e.: Hiking, Mountain Biking, Golfing at the 2 golf courses (one of which is world class), Horseback riding, Fishing, River Rafting, Jet Boating, Canoeing or Hang-glide from the mountain tops to the valley below. Pemberton Airport also gives an opportunity to glide or fly over extinct volcanoes, glaciers and waterfalls.

The stay in Winter is often a week or longer for Snowmobilers, Skiers and Snowboarders. The roads are very well maintained in winter as this has become a 'bedroom' community for Whistler, with a daily stream of people heading to and from the Mountain to work or play. Skiers and snowboarders alike join the traffic in winter as they have discovered that prices are more reasonable in Pemberton than Whistler and that it is just an easy 25-minute drive to the slopes. People are always amazed that there are so many first-class restaurants in the area, with no need to drive to Whistler for dinner. It is worth noting that Snowmobiling has also increased over the past couple of winters, now that the trail to the Pemberton Ice Caps is kept open by the Pemberton Snowmobile Club who raise money for the necessary frequent grooming

When guests are ready to move on they have choices: either to retrace their steps or return via one of the Circle Routes to Vancouver on Hwy #1, or travel beyond as Pemberton is a Gateway to the Interior, Banff and Jasper.

This Travel Guide was kindly made available by Christine and Fred Einarson from of Alpen View Bed & Breakfast in Pemberton.

British Columbia
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