Posted by: cherylyoung | January 27, 2013

Day 64 Take the Sea To Sky Highway

Day 64 Take the Sea To Sky Highway



Sea to Sky Highway

Highway 99 is the Sea to Sky Highway, which winds

through five distinct biogeoclimatic zones in the

Vancouver, Coast and Mountains region of BC, from

coastal rain forest at Horseshoe Bay, through Squamish,

Garibaldi Provincial Park, and the Resort Municipality

of Whistler.

 

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.

 

In 1915, the Pacific Great Eastern railway began service

between Squamish and the Cariboo.

 

For those in search of outdoor recreation, the railway

proved an ideal way to reach trailheads in Garibaldi

Provincial Park and fishing camps such as Alta Lake’s

Rainbow Lodge, situated at the foot of London Mountain.

 

By the mid-1960s, the prospect of skiers heading from

Vancouver to the fledgling trails on London Mountain

– by this time renamed Whistler Mountain – prompted

the provincial government to open a road north from

Horseshoe Bay through Squamish to Whistler.

 

Space being at a premium along steep-sided Howe Sound

(North America’s southernmost fjord), the road and

railway parallel each other for much of the 28 miles (45 km)

between Horseshoe Bay and Squamish at the head of

the sound.

 

By 1975, the highway was pushed through to Pemberton,

and by 1995 the last stretch of gravel road was paved

between Pemberton and Lillooet.

(Highway 99 and the railway part company in Pemberton

but link up again at 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.

 

Both the railway, which now departs from its southern

depot in North Vancouver, and Highway 99 have helped

introduce visitors to the backcountry region in the

Sea to Sky corridor.

 

(The 12-hour train trip between North Vancouver and

Prince George in the Central Interior is one of Canada’s

most scenic rail journeys.

 

Travellers can choose to disembark or be picked up just

about anywhere along its route.)

 

Certainly, Whistler’s success as a resort destination has

propelled development, both commercial and recreational,

in other parts of the region, particularly Squamish and

Pemberton.

 

So too has the popularity of the mountain bike and the

sport-utility vehicle.

 

The pace of mountain-bike trailblazing carries on today

with the same zeal once devoted to the creation of new

ski runs, while logging roads no longer intimidate drivers

in search of backcountry getaways as they once did.

 

And it’s not just the proximity to Greater Vancouver that

drives this expansion.

 

The landscape itself just happens to be some of the most

ideal terrain for outdoor activity in British Columbia.

 

Squamish (population 16,000) is a relief. Smaller than

Vancouver, larger than Whistler, and equidistant from

them both, Squamish is the envy of the south coast.

 

It has so many things going for it – location, geography,

wildlife, weather – that as forestry declines as the town’s

major employer, tourism and outdoor recreation have

taken on greater importance.

 

Travellers have always been drawn to Squamish, from the

days of the Coast Squamish people, who journeyed

between Burrard Inlet and STA-a-mus at the mouth

of the Squamish River, to more recent times when

steamships began ferrying anglers, climbers, and

picnickers here over a century ago.

 

There’s a rich history to the Squamish region, and the

best way to experience it is through a favourite outdoor

activity.

 

No matter what your pleasure, you’ll follow paths laid

down by fellow admirers who’ve cleared the way.

 

Something magical happens when you arrive at the

summit of the small valley that contains Whistler.

 

A cluster of little lakes is gathered here, reflecting the

outline of the mountains high above.

 

Alta Lake is the great divide in the Sea to Sky corridor.

 

Water flowing from its south end reaches the Pacific via

the Cheakamus and Squamish Rivers, while water flowing

from its north end in the River of Golden Dreams

eventually reaches the ocean through the Harrison

watershed and the Fraser River.

 

No other valley in the Sea to Sky region has such a wealth

of small and medium-sized lakes.

 

No other lakes have scenery quite like this to mirror.

 

When you let your eyes rise from the reflection to

admire the real thing, the contours of the ski runs on

Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains pattern the forested

slopes.

 

Above the tree line, you can still see remnants of the

most recent ice age in the glaciers that encrust the highest peaks.

 

Take a deep breath of the freshest air imaginable.

 

See the best of the area on a driving Circle Tour.

Head north out of Vancouver for a scenic tour of the

Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island, or stay on the

intensely scenic Sea to Sky Highway, passing through

the magical winter resort town of Whistler and looping

through the Coast Mountains.

 

To explore the rural farmlands and forests of the

fertile Fraser Valley, travel outbound on the scenic route

north of the historic Fraser River, returning westwards

along the Trans Canada Highway 1 to Vancouver.

 

Circle Tours in BC.

Location: Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver is the

southern terminus of Highway 99.

 

Lillooet, about 190 miles (310 km) north, is its northern twin.

From Lillooet, a recent extension of Highway 99

(formerly called Highway 12) leads almost 47 miles (75 km)

farther north and east to its conjunction with Highway 97

at Hat Creek.

 

The southern terminus of the Sea to Sky Highway

(Highway 99) is reached via the Trans-Canada Highway

(Highway 1) at Horseshoe Bay.

 

The northern terminus lies at its junction with Highway

97, about 7 miles (11 km) north of Cache Creek.

 

An alternative approach near its northern terminus is

Highway 12′s junction with Highway 99 at Lillooet.

 

 

Despite major improvements over the past 30 years, such

as rock scaling, bridge reinforcement, and frequent

passing lanes, sections of this predominantly two-lane

road can still be extremely treacherous in foul weather.

 

Drive cautiously but not so slowly as to frustrate those

who are more familiar with the route.

 

All exits and trailheads are well marked, with adequate

room for off-road parking.

sea_logo

 

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