Sea to Sky Drive to Whistler

Mountains overlooking the Strait of Georgia along the Sea to Sky Highway

There is nothing better than a spectacular drive to get you to your destination. I haven’t had a road trip that took my breath away in a long time though. The journey up to Whistler changed all that. It had me drooling out the window more than a teething toddler.

Up until this weekend, Vancouver was the farthest I had ever gone into British Columbia. The drive from Seattle to the Canadian border isn’t too memorable in the dead of winter. Just highway, casinos, outlet malls and a few dormant tulips fields. Nothing really had me excited for this drive. Little did I know what was in store for us.

The Sea to Sky Highway (BC-99) out of Vancouver towards Whistler is nothing short of breath taking. The road follows the Strait of Georgia out of the city and climbs its way through mountains and small towns. Sweeping mountain and  water vistas are at every turn. Clouds roll through as you make your way into the heavens, or so it may seem.

Not only are there beautiful views to keep your eyes entertained, it can even captivate the antsiest of toddlers. As you may know, I have one of in the backseat at all times. He hates being in the car more than 20 minutes. If the Sea to Sky highway can distract Dek it must be a thrilling ride.

Even this brightly colored orange bridge was enough to break up any monotony

Any drive worth its stuff has to have a few pit stops along the way. Just be sure you take advantage of them. The B.C Museum of Mining almost had us pulling over with its 235-ton Super Mine truck displayed front and center. Nope. We were on a mission to get to Whistler. No stopping for us.

I anxiously awaited the perfect scenic viewpoint stop, but we never found the right one. On the drive up the stops were on the southbound side of the road. It was hard to cut across traffic on the winding roads going 80-90km per hour. On the drive back, the few stops we did make had views blocked by trees. The best photo moments were on bridges and rock slide areas that did not allow you to stop. I  finally had to resort to shooting as we drove. Not my favorite way to photograph a beautiful setting, but sometimes you just have to work with what you are given (or not in this case.)

Shannon Falls was the most tempting stop of them all. I am still kicking myself for not insisting we take the 5 minutes to check out this waterfall. Because many of the trees were bare, we could see the water crashing down even as we whizzed by.  The hike from the parking lot looked more like a quick stroll to falls that were at least 4 stories tall (335 meters to be exact.)

As I start to scheme a drive back up this summer, I am already factoring in at least 2 stops along the way and a few unplanned photo opportunities. After all, there were picnic tables at a few of the scenic viewpoints. I’ll also have a new baby that has to be fed every few hours. Better to be prepared with a little eye candy for all of us than be bored in a parking lot.

One of the best lookouts on the drive. Only a few trees block the great view.

Key Stops from Seattle to Whistler (Winter)

  • Outlet shopping at Exit 202 (near Tulalip Casino) and at Exit 230
  • Britannia Beach and Railway Museum plus the B.C. Museum of Mining
  • Shannon Falls
  • Squamish- WhistlerBlackcomb outlet store
  • Tantalus Lookout

Check out the Whistler, BC (Winter) trip report for more on the practical side of planning a trip to this winter wonderland.

For more information on pit stops along the Sea to Sky Highway, check out WhistlerBlackcomb.

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5 comments

  1. WOW that sure takes your breath away – gorgeous! Worth the trip :)

    Cheers
    Lisa

  2. I love that drive – it is spectacular!! Now you need to go to the Canadian East Coast and drive the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia – equally spectacular.

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