Scenic Drive: The Sea-to-Sky Highway

Along the Sea-to-Sky-Highway near Whistler, BC.
Along the Sea-to-Sky-Highway near Whistler, BC. Photo © Ontario Ltd. Spirer/123rf.

Highway 99, the Sea-to-Sky Highway, is one of western Canada’s most beautiful drives. And in a region full of beautiful drives, that’s high praise.

At its southern end, the winding road that leads from West Vancouver to Whistler hugs the shores of Howe Sound, where the Gulf Islands rise from the water. You can stop at Horseshoe Bay, where the ferries depart for Vancouver Island and B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, to stroll the harbor and admire the vistas.

Another stopping point is Porteau Cove Provincial Park, which has a small pebbly beach along a scenic stretch of coastline.

In Squamish, you have views both of the waterfront and the mountains, particularly the iconic Stawamus Chief that looms above the highway. As you continue toward Whistler, the road begins to climb, and both forests and peaks surround you.

Keep your camera handy, but pull off at one of the many turnouts to take in the views. At several viewpoints, informational kiosks explore the region’s First Nations heritage, a “Cultural Journey” designed in partnership with Whistler’s Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre.

With rock faces plunging down to the roadway and forested islands just offshore, you can easily become distracted by the scenery, so drive carefully. Watch your speed, too, as the speed limit changes frequently, as do the number of travel lanes.

From October through March, drivers are required to have winter tires or carry (and know how to use) chains, since sections of Highway 99 can become snow-covered and slippery.

Yet, whatever the season, this drive is a striking one, so pack up the car, and hit the road from sea to sky.

Travel map of Sea-to-Sky Highway in BC.
Sea-to-Sky Highway

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