British Columbia Highway 99 is more commonly known as the Sea to Sky Highway. The scenic route stretches north from Vancouver along the coast of Howe Sound before veering east and climbing into interior B.C. It offers drivers an alternative to the typical West Access Route to the Alaska Highway.
The Sea to Sky Highway is 192 miles of scenery and recreation opportunities. The route passes through the outdoor adventure havens of Squamish and Whistler. There are popular scuba diving beaches, waterfalls, and fine dining. The route is popular and includes steep grades and hairpin turns. The activities along the way could fill an entire road trip. Here are three stops to get you started.
Britannia Beach is a little less than an hour north of Vancouver. The small town of about 300 was, from 1930 to 1935, the largest producer copper in the British Empire. Unearth that history at Britannia Mine Museum, open daily in the summer. Pan for gold, marvel at the size of a giant mining truck, and hop aboard the museum’s train for an underground tour that includes a demonstration of working drills.
Take some time in the seaside community to explore art galleries and grab a coffee at Chatterbox Cafe, which also houses the museum’s collection of historic autographed photos.
Sea to Sky Gondola
Shorten your journey from the shore to the summit just a short drive up the highway from Britannia Beach at the Sea to Sky Gondola. The gondola is open daily in summer and whisks visitors up to spectacular sweeping views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. Walk the Panorama Trail for a viewing platform that juts out over a sheer cliff, venture across a 100-meter long suspension bridge and safely scramble up some granite slabs on the summit’s via ferrata. The summit lodge has live music every Friday evening during summer.
Explore the internationally known resort town and snow sports destination. During winter Whistler and Blackcomb peaks have over 200 runs across more than 3,000 hectares. The resort regularly operates its lifts well into May. It’s even possible to ski in summer thanks to Horstman Glacier on Blackcomb Mountain. The mountains are also popular for biking and hiking in summer.
The walkable resort town is full of luxury accommodations, dining, golfing, art, and other leisure activities. Stop in the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center to learn about the region’s indigenous people.