Follow the Sea-to-Sky highway up to Whistler for dramatic sweeping views of fjords, mountains and dormant volcanoes along the Pacific Rim of Fire. Admire breathtaking waterfalls on route. At Whistler, see it all from the Top of the World Cloudraker Skybridge or take in the panoramic vista on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, the world’s highest lift of its kind. If you are daring enough, ride the longest zipline in Canada and the USA.
The drive to Whistler will take about 1 hr and 52 min without stops. Take your time driving this beautiful but winding highway. It is one of the most scenic drives in North America. Enjoy the views along the way but keep your eyes on the road. Only pull off at designated spots when it is safe.
If you are planning a trip to explore some of the most incredible spots in BC, don’t miss our suggestions for experiences to last a lifetime below.
– Road Trip – Top things to do driving from Victoria to Pacific Rim National Park
– Discover 15 of the best waterfalls in British Columbia
– Discover some of the best prehistoric rock carvings found in BC
– BC Travel Guide: 21-day road trip Part 1 – Vancouver, Jasper, Banff and Okanagan wine country
– BC Travel Guide: 21-day road trip Part 2 – Vancouver, Jasper, Banff and Okanagan wine country
– Top 10 things to see and do in Victoria, BC – a city guide
Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Stop here to see North America’s most southern fjord. The panoramic view of Howe Sound is spectacular. This location is a popular scuba diving site to explore marine life on the series of man-made reefs and old wrecks. As you look out over the water to the north, notice the marker buoys in the water. There are scuba diving facilities, washrooms, picnic tables, waterfront campsites and a few Olympic Legacy Cabins available. Campsite reservations are recommended. Download a dive map.
This park is also a popular spot for stargazing and a chance to see the dancing Northern Lights when conditions are right. Check the Aurora 30 minute forecast from the Space Weather Prediction Center.
Orca, gray and humpback whales have been spotted from the shores from the end of March until October. Raccoons, minks, river otters, coyotes, harbour seals and porpoises along with a variety of water birds can be found year-round.
Safety tips – There is an active BC Rail train track to cross entering the park. Obey all signs. Explore the beach, but be aware that wet logs on the beach are slippery. Use extreme caution if you plan to climb over them to get to the beach. Weather can change quickly, so if swimming, watch tide conditions. Find out more about the park.
Check out the charming, once prosperous, Britannia Beach mining town. The town flourished after copper was discovered here in 1888.
The Britannia Beach Mine is a significant Canadian National Historic Site and a BC Historic Site. The mine opened in 1904 and became an important source of copper ore. It became the largest mining operation in Canada during the 1920s and 30s and one of the world’s largest copper mines. The mine was in use for almost 70 years until it closed in 1974. The mine’s innovative technology of using a gravity-fed concentrator produced a daily haul of 2,500 tons of ore. The mine also extracted some gold, zinc, lead, silver and cadmium. Read more about the National Historic significance.
The Britannia Mine Museum, first opened in 1975, underwent a major $14.7 million revitalization project in 2010. The Museum recently unveiled the new immersive, multi-sensory BOOM! live action Mills Show Experience in 2019. Hop on the rail train to learn what it was like to be a miner in 1914. This popular underground tour is a once-in-a-lifetime Canadian Signature Experience.
The museum is open seven days a week. Tours can be booked online one day in advance here
Shannon Falls Provincial Park
Impressive Shannon Falls drops 335 meters, making it the third highest waterfall in British Columbia. Take the short trail through the forest along the river to the falls from the parking lot. This is always a favourite picnic stop. I have been coming here since I was a young child. The park is open year-round, but use extra caution on wet days as the trails and other surface can be extremely slippery.
Carling O’Keefe Brewery owned the area in 1976 and used the mountain water to make its beer. The land was later donated to BC Parks in 1982. Find out more about the park.
Sea to Sky Gondola
The Sea to Sky Gondola offers breathtaking views of the Howe Sound and surrounding mountains. There are so many adventures to experience. The list below are just a few.
- Ride the eight passenger gondola.
- Walk across the 150-metres-long Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge.
- Hike three accessible easy to moderate walking trails. The Spirit Trail offers two viewing platforms and provides the history of the land. The Panorama Trail wanders through the coastal forest to the Chief outlook platform. The Wonderland Lake Loop provides several viewpoints and takes you to a small lake.
- The elevated Tree Walk is scheduled to open later in 2020. It offers a 2.5 km trip through the trees and over wetlands along Panorama Ridge.
Find out about the Sea to Sky Gondola and ticket prices here.
The towering Stawamus Chief Mountain is one the largest granite monoliths in the world. It stands 702 metres or 2,303 feet. The largest granite monolith is El Captain in Yosemite National Park, California standing about 914 metres or 3,000 feet. Both are world famous, world-class destinations for rock climbers. Be sure to stop at the pullout viewpoint in the day parking lot and take out your binoculars to see climbers taking the difficult challenge using ropes, chains and ladders as they make their way up. Watch for peregrine falcons during the nesting season. Strenuous hiking trails are available. Download a park brochure.
Squamish is located neat the foot of the Stawamus Chief. If you are a train buff, you won’t want to miss seeing the West Coast Railway Heritage Park. It has Canada’s second largest vintage collection of locomotives. There are 90 pieces of heritage railway cars and artifacts along with a replica of a turn-of-the century railway town. The park is open for special events and daily starting in March. Find out more on the official Squamish Visitors Site.
Squamish is home to largest winter gathering of bald eagles in North America between November and February. The eagles come from all over the Pacific Northwest and BC interior. The best place to see the eagles is from the Eagle Run Viewing Shelter located on the Squamish River just off the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Find out more about the EagleWatch Program run by the Squamish Environmental Community. Here is their complete list of viewing locations. If you want to take a closer look at the eagles, take an Eagle Float tour down the Squamish River. The Brackendale Eagle Festival runs during the month of January.
This park was formed after a volcano erupted more than 13,000 years ago. Take a short walk along the trail to the falls viewpoint to see the spectacular Brandywine Falls. The falls drops 70 metres. Continue along the trail to the see an impressive view of Daisy Lake and the Cheakamus River. Download a trail map. Continue along the trail for a spectacular view of Black Tusk and Daisy Lake. Black Tusk was actually the core of a volcano. It is now a popular rock climbing spot.
Alexander Falls is located just south of Whistler on Callaghan Valley Road, not far from Whistler Olympic Park. This impressive waterfall can be viewed from the platform near the road.
There is so much to do in Whistler. See it all from the Top of the World Cloudraker Skybridge or take in the panoramic vista from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, the world’s highest lift of its kind. If you are daring enough, ride the longest zipline in Canada and the USA.
Here are just a few of the many adventures waiting for you to experience in Whistler/Blackcomb area.
- Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola for stunning mountain views on the world’s highest lift of its kind. Book online and save.
- Walk out on the Top of the World Cloudraker Skybridge, a 130-metre suspension bridge.
- Ride the longest zipline in Canada and the USA.
- Canoe down the River of Golden Dreams from Alta Lake to Green Lake.
- Whistler is a world-class biking destination. Mountain, cross-country, road, electric or recreational biking in the spring, summer and fall. There are so many options.
- Try a Winter Olympic sport experience. Take a bobsleigh or skeleton ride at the Whistler Sliding Centre, the fastest sliding track in the world!
- Check out the sport of axe throwing.
- Take a giant leap and feel the rush with Whistler bungee jumping. Drop 50 metres over the Cheakamus River.
- Go on a bear viewing tour. Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are home to up to 60 black bears and cubs.
- Escape on a magical adventure filled with stardust and fairy tales. Vallea Lumina is a multimedia walk in the forest on Cougar Mountain.
- Hiking trails offer endless possibilities to explore the alpine, lakes, beaches, forests, valleys and village. Download hiking maps here.
Stay overnight in Whistler at least two nights, but you really need to spend more time.
Hotels – There are so many wonderful accommodations at Whistler/Blackcomb. We have our favourites and have stayed in these hotels several times: The Westin Resort and Spa, the Mountainside Lodge and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. They all provide easy access to the gondola, restaurants and other activities. We always look for special promotions when we book. Last time we went to the Mountainside Lodge, parking was only $20 a night and there was no resort fee, which made it good value for us. Search for more accommodation ideas or check the official Whistler Destination site here. Or if you wish to use Booking.Com with the link below, any commissions earned will go back to us to help keep this website running.
Motorhome Park and Camping – The closest RV site to Whistler is the Riverside Resort and Campground. It offers a variety of accommodations from RV camping, camping, Yurt and cabin rentals.
Continue north of Whistler on Highway 99 about 20 minutes to Nairn Falls Provincial Park. From the parking lot, follow the 1.5 km trail to the view of the 60 metre high falls. Hike through western red cedar, western hemlock, paper birch and coastal Douglas fir. Watch your footing, as there are many steep banks above the fast flowing Green River and the trail has lots of raised, exposed tree roots. This area has a rich geological history of water, glaciers and volcanic islands through the ages as it transitioned from a seashore to a mountainous area. At the falls, look for pothole erosion made by rushing waters moving in a circular motion.
If you visit the park in April and May watch for the blooms of the western flowering dogwood. It’s BC’s flower emblem.
Campsites are available in the park.
Be sure to check back more photos of the area coming soon.