Whether you’re driving alone, in pairs or with children, a successful and relaxing road trip requires regular breaks – be it for bathrooms, stretching your legs, enjoying a beautiful viewpoint or simply taking in some fresh air.
Take a road trip along BC’s spectacular Sea to Sky Highway – with a few scenic and convenient stops along the way – and you might just catch glimpses of some amazing wildlife, including whales, eagles and other birds or stop for a quick swim or hike to break up the ride.
In fact, the stops along the Sea to Sky are likely to make you appreciate the journey as well as the destination. With tumbling waterfalls and majestic mountains, you’ll likely want to keep your camera or phone ready to Instagram your new photos.
BC’s Sea to Sky Highway – also known as Highway 99 – is the major north-south route stretching from Metro Vancouver to Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and, finally, Lillooet. On a bright, clear day, there is little doubt this is one of the prettiest expanse of roads you’ll find anywhere in North America or possibly around the world.
Driving north towards Squamish, you’ll find the sparkling crystal blue waters of the Howe Sound to your left with glimpses of Bowen, Gambier and Anvil islands. Beyond the islands are the spectacular snow-capped mountains for which the area is so rightfully well known. And along the way, there are plenty of places to pull over to enjoy the area’s natural landscape and take a brief pause before once again hitting the road:
1. Shannon Falls. About five kilometres south of Squamish and directly adjacent to Highway 99, Shannon Falls makes for a scenic and convenient stop en route to Whistler or beyond. As BC’s third-highest waterfall, this 87-hectare park is made up of a series of cliffs that rises more than 330 metres above the highway. Some wheelchair access and pet friendly.
2. Brandywine Falls. This spectacular 70-metre waterfall can be found roughly 20 kilometres south of Whistler. Walk to the high viewing platform (perched on the edge of a volcanic escarpment) to enjoy some of the best views of the waterfall, nearby Daisy Lake, the encircling mountains and parts of this impressive 420-hectare park. Picnic areas and bathrooms.
3. One Mile Lake Park. The entrance for this park is about three kilometres south of Pemberton on the east side of Highway 99. The park and lake provide ample opportunities to take a leisurely walk, explore the Nature Centre, swim in the pristine water, or simply relax on one of the benches while the kids burn off some steam at the playground and beach. Be sure to keep your binoculars handy to spot great blue herons, loons, osprey, swans or many of the other birds that visit the lake. Picnic tables and bathrooms.
4. Seton Lake Recreation Area. Roughly six kilometres west of Lillooet, this is a perfect spot for a brief rest, picnic or dip in the water. A quick exit will lead you to this natural oasis, providing easy access to Seton Lake and lots of opportunities to take some memorable photos. As a bonus, the water is relatively warm and very clean – making this a refreshing stop on a hot summer afternoon before heading to your next destination. Wheelchair accessible, picnic tables and bathrooms. (Another picnic area alongside Cayoosh Creek, which drains into Seton Lake, is less than one kilometre east of the lake.)
No matter which direction you’re heading on the Sea to Sky Highway, there are plenty of places to pause and hit refresh along the way. Just be sure to enjoy the ride.