If you’re heading to Whistler from West Vancouver, there are many things to see and do along the Sea To Sky Highway. From sweeping ocean views over Howe Sound to mountain views of the Tantalus Range, there are plenty of scenic stops and attractions for you to explore!
The Sea To Sky Highway is an incredible way to experience the best that British Columbia has to offer. Take the time to enjoy it and make it a memorable trip.
West Vancouver Sea To Sky Riding is a scenic route that takes you across Downtown Vancouver, across the Lions Gate Bridge and along Howe Sound to Whistler. The highway is packed with epic mountains, coastal forests and towering waterfalls. The drive is one of the most spectacular stretches of road in Canada.
There are a number of viewpoints to choose from as you make your way up and down the Sea To Sky Highway, so you can stop at various places along the way to enjoy the views and take photos. Some of these viewpoints are easy to reach from the main road while others are only a short detour away.
If you want a panoramic view of the entire Lower Mainland and beyond, the Cypress Mountain Lookout is the place to go. This free park has several wooded trails that open up to breathtaking views of Vancouver and the North Shore. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Baker in Washington State!
Another great viewpoint to see is Lighthouse Park. This small park is only a 10 minute detour from the Sea To Sky Highway and offers some of the most beautiful ocean views in the area.
The park also has a pier that you can walk out onto for a spectacular view of the beach and Howe Sound. You can even watch seabirds from this vantage point.
Porteau Cove is a tiny provincial park that’s wedged between Howe Sound and the Sea To Sky Highway, and it’s a favorite spot for scuba divers. It’s not particularly popular for hiking, but it does have a pier that you can walk out on for a great view of the sea and rocky beaches.
For the adventurous, you can do a hike up to the summit of Cypress Mountain. The trail is a bit more difficult than the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, but it offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains and Howe Sound.
There are many shorter and longer hiking trails around the gondola, so you can decide which ones are best for you. Some of the shorter trails, like the 1.6 km Panorama Trail, offer impressive views and are fairly level while others, such as the 400 m Spirit Trail, will be more challenging and can take you into backcountry areas. You can also do a gondola ride up to the top for even more amazing views and some of the best hiking in the area.
Garibaldi Provincial Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park is a wilderness area that encompasses spectacular glaciers, jewel-like alpine lakes, rushing rivers and dense coastal forests. It is located between the ski resort towns of Whistler and Squamish, and is one of British Columbia’s most popular hiking destinations.
A wide variety of activities can be enjoyed in the park, including cross country skiing and snowshoeing in winter and hiking in summer. There are 97 km (60 miles) of trails in the park, ranging from short day hikes to multi-day backpacking excursions.
For those who are looking for a more challenging hiking experience, Empetrum Peak and the rarely summited Cinder Cone are worth checking out. These routes are a little off the beaten path, but the views will be well worth it.
Another option for those who want to climb high in the mountains but still have access to a vehicle is the Diamond Head trailhead. This is a fairly rugged road, but 2WD vehicles can usually make it through with a bit of care.
In the summer, this road is a lot more trafficked than Rubble Creek, so an early start is recommended. In the winter, chains are mandatory on this road.
The parking lot at the Black Tusk/Garibaldi Lake entrance is a little more difficult to find than the Rubble Creek trailhead, so arriving super early in the morning is advised. There is also a lower parking lot near the Garibaldi Lake Trailhead, though this is not as convenient as the one at Rubble Creek.
Alternatively, you can take a full-day tour with a guide who will help you navigate the trail and snap pictures of the amazing scenery along the way. The tour costs $350 per person, which includes transportation to the trailhead, a professional photographer who can assist you with your photos, and snacks on the hike.
Garibaldi Provincial Park is a great place to see some of the most beautiful views in all of BC. The landscape is shaped by volcanic forces, and the park’s peaks are unique, including Mount Garibaldi, Black Tusk, and Panorama Ridge. It is also home to many species of wildlife, including moose and marmot.
The Sea to Sky Highway connects Vancouver with Whistler and the Howe Sound, spanning 134-kilometres (83 miles) of stunning mountain views. As a result, it’s often ranked among the world’s most spectacular drives. But it’s also a treacherous road in the winter, when snow and ice can be common.
Fortunately, driving on the Sea to Sky Highway is relatively safe if you follow all the rules of the road. But the highway can become very crowded during peak seasons or during accidents, so it’s best to plan ahead and take it slow.
If you’re going to be traveling on the Sea to Sky Highway, make sure to check DriveBC and BC HighwayCams for up-to-date road conditions and any highway closures. These websites are run by the province and have the latest information on road closures, incidents and construction.
While the Sea to Sky Highway was upgraded for the 2010 Winter Olympics, it’s still a challenging and treacherous road. It’s narrow in some places and winding, especially south of Squamish.
This means you need to pay attention to all the turns, hills, warning signs, speed limits and other drivers. Accidents can happen anywhere, but they’re more likely on the Sea to Sky Highway during bad weather, like rain and fog.
As a result, it’s important to have snow tires when driving on the Sea to Sky Highway during the winter. These tires should have the M+S or mountain snowflake symbol, and they should have a tread depth of at least 3.5mm.
But many drivers are still hesitant to buy or install winter tires, putting off the task because of the price. Sterling Arndt, owner of OK Tire Vancouver, said the average set of snow tires costs around $400, which can be a deterrent.
However, the added traction a good set of snow tires provides can make all the difference in avoiding accidents. If you’re planning on a road trip, it’s important to get winter tires or chains for your vehicle, as they are required from October 1 to March 31 in B.C.
You can easily avoid fines by getting the right tires, and you’ll be safer in the process! If you’re not sure what type of winter tires are necessary, or if you want to get a set before you head out on the highway, Hyack Excel Tire in Burnaby is happy to help.
First Nations Culture
The West Vancouver Sea To Sky Riding offers a wide variety of opportunities to learn about First Nations Culture. Whether you’re seeking a guided cultural tour, an authentic Indigenous-owned accommodation or simply a quiet moment to reflect, there are plenty of ways to connect with the land and people in this beautiful place.
A walk through Stanley Park, an Indigenous-led cycling tour or a stroll down historic neighbourhoods like Gastown and Mount Pleasant are great ways to immerse yourself in a living culture. Discover art galleries and museums, sample traditional food or book a guided tour for some insight into Indigenous lore and history.
When First Nations arrived in Canada, their lifestyles centered around the natural world. Their diets were based on hunted game, wild vegetables and fish. Their clothes and tools were designed to protect them from the elements. They used bark-covered canoes and slender pole tipis, made from long pine trees.
In a climate that was constantly changing, these people lived without footwear, although they wore woven bark rain caps and hats in wet weather. They also wore soft cloth skirts, often of cedar bark that had been shredded to make the fibre. Women wore soft robes of yellow cedar bark that were interwoven with mountain goat wool or bordered with otters’ fur.
Pacific Coast First Nations travelled almost exclusively by water. They built small dugout canoes for hunting and large, complex canoes that could haul up to 40 men. They also constructed large log shelters that were built at the waterline of a river.
The Canadian government’s policy of promoting assimilation was meant to encourage First Nations to abandon their traditional ways of life and adopt more agricultural and sedentary lifestyles. These policies were intended to assimilate them into the larger British and Christian agrarian society.
As the years passed, First Nations began to protest these policies and to challenge them in court. Their challenges resulted in the 1973 Calder case, which confirmed Aboriginal title to lands under the Canadian Constitution.
As a result of these landmark decisions, many Aboriginal groups in Canada became more politically active and asserted their rights. This paved the way for First Nations to renegotiate existing treaties and to form political organizations that represented the interests of their communities. The Canadian government, too, began to reassess its approach to First Nations and to withdraw Indian agents from reserves.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.