From an eagle's vantage, the Sea to Sky Highway winds out of Canada's West Vancouver past Horseshoe Bay, clinging impossibly to cliffs that wall in the narrow Howe Sound. The road travels north to the snow-topped Coast Mountains and ski-fiend heaven, Whistler Village.
That's what the nearly 4,000 bald eagles that dine in these parts from November to February see as they cruise the currents. For the land traveler, the sights of the Sea to Sky should include a stop at the tiny town of Britannia Beach and the Westcoast Railway Heritage Park. In good weather, the British Columbia Museum of Mining might also be open (if so, you can ride a train through the old copper mine). Northward, keep a sharp eye out for Shannon Falls—at 1,021 feet, it is B.C.'s third highest waterfall. It would be hard to miss the 2,139-foot-high granite monolith, Stawamus Chief. The Chief boasts nearly a third of the area's 1,000 or so rock- and ice-climbing routes. The town of Squamish, halfway to Whistler, is an outdoors lover's nirvana—windsurfing, hiking, and river rafting abound. Tiny Brackendale, beyond Squamish, is eagle central. Soon the Sea to Sky turns to the mountains, passing Alice Lake Provincial Park and the glacier-studded, river-threaded Garibaldi Provincial Park. Near Whistler the mountains open to a valley glimmering with lakes that reflect the snowy peaks—a reminder, perhaps, that you've arrived sky-high.
When To Go: Weekdays. Winter weekends the road is jammed with the skiing-bound. In summer, hikers, rafters, and golfers scatter farther north on the Sea to Sky, to the towns of Pemberton and Lillooet.
Who Will Like It: Lovers of fresh sea and mountain air, skiers, RV-ers, bicyclists, and birders.
What's There: Mountains, cliffs, climbs, eagles, and lots of excellent photo opportunities.
The Right Route: It is 75 miles from Vancouver to Whistler. Dawdling is highly recommended. BC Rail operates a popular train to Whistler that parallels 26 miles of the Sea to Sky. Buses also make the Sea-to-Sky run three times a day.
Illustration by Michael Klein
This article was first published in November 2001. Some facts
may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.