Driving the Sea to Sky Highway (also known as Highway 99) from Vancouver to Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton is one of the best road trips in British Columbia. Incredibly scenic, the highway takes you along the coast, past breathtaking snow-capped mountains, and to charming BC towns full of outdoor adventures.
The Sea to Sky corridor is packed with scenic viewpoints and exciting adventures. While you can do the drive in one shot, why miss all the the best stops that the Sea to Sky Highway has to offer?
Epic mountain ski resorts, world-class rock climbing, backcountry hiking trails, amazing restaurants, impressive waterfalls… there’s no shortage of amazing things to do and see on a Sea-to-Sky Highway road trip. Even after driving Highway 99 multiple times every year, we still can’t get enough of the beauty that it has to offer!
With this guide, we’ll help you plan the best Sea to Sky Highway road trip from Vancouver to Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. We cover the top places to stop, best things to do and see, places to eat, and where to stay along the Sea to Sky Highway, with a map, driving directions and tips for traveling this beautiful road.
Where Does the Sea to Sky Highway Start and End?
Part of Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Highway is typically considered to stretch between Horseshoe Bay of West Vancouver to the mountain towns of Whistler and Pemberton. Along the way, the highway passes by Squamish and small communities like Lions Bay, Britannia Beach, and Furry Creek.
Pemberton is the official northern end of the Sea to Sky Highway. Once you pass Pemberton, Highway 99 turns into Pemberton Portage Road, Lillooet Lake Road, and eventually Duffey Lake Road which take you to Mount Currie and Lillooet. Of course, you can include these spots in your road trip, but they aren’t generally considered part of the Sea to Sky Highway.
The Sea to Sky Highway is Highway 99’s central section. Highway 99 is a north-to-south major provincial highway that stretches 377 km (234 miles) from the U.S./Canada Border at the Peace Arch in Surrey, all the way to the Highway 97 junction by Cache Creek in the BC Interior. In the United States, Highway 99 turns into Interstate 5 (I-5) which continues all the way from Canada to the Mexican border!
Sea to Sky Highway Driving Directions
The Sea to Sky Highway road trip begins in West Vancouver, following the coast of the Howe Sound fjord up towards Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton.
The total distance from downtown Vancouver to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway is 121 km (75 miles), which takes at minimum 2 hours to drive. Adding on a stop in Pemberton is an extra 33 km (20.5 miles) of driving (about 30 minutes).
To get to the Sea to Sky Highway from downtown Vancouver, you’ll need to drive through Stanley Park and across the Lions Gate Bridge. Stop at Prospect Point for an epic view of this iconic bridge!
Once you’ve crossed Burrard Inlet on the Lions Gate Bridge, follow the signs for Whistler / Highway 99 North onto Marine Drive. The road will cross the Capilano River and then you’ll turn right onto Taylor Way/BC-99 N.
Follow this road north until you pass under a bridge for the highway. Immediately after, you’ll turn left and merge onto the highway — a combination of Highway 1 and 99. Near Horseshoe Bay, these highways will split so make sure to stay in the left lanes, following the Squamish/Whistler signs!
Once you’re on the Sea to Sky Highway, it’s easy navigating from there! You’ll follow the highway the entire time from West Vancouver to Pemberton, unless you stop along the way!
Highway 99 Road Conditions and Driving Tips
With gorgeous scenery, it’s easy to be distracted when driving the Sea to Sky Highway but it’s important to stay alert on this road trip. The highway has lots of twists and turns, with changes in elevation, unpredictable weather, and speeding drivers.
While the highway was upgraded prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, it is still treacherous at times — especially in winter. Accidents are common and when they happen, the entire highway gets quite backed up, adding hours to your drive.
Make sure to drive the speed limit on Highway 99, and slow down in poor weather. Radar speed traps are also common on the highway.
From October 1 to March 31, you are required to use winter tires (with the M+S or mountain snowflake symbol) when driving the Sea to Sky Highway. Winter conditions make the road snowy and icy, especially in the mountain passes. Without winter tires, your vehicle is unsafe to drive on Highway 99 at this time of year. You could get fined if you don’t have the proper tires, too.
Throughout the year, check the weather and road conditions before driving the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Pemberton. Snow storms, thick fog, heavy rain, ice, and other poor weather conditions make the road unsafe to drive. DriveBC and BC HighwayCams are a useful way to check the road conditions, closures, and traffic before your road trip.
Sea to Sky Highway Transportation Options
While driving is the easiest way to explore the Sea to Sky Highway, what if you don’t own a vehicle? How do you get from Vancouver to Squamish, Whistler or Pemberton without a car? Luckily, there are several transportation options to choose from!
For those who can drive but don’t own their own vehicle, renting a vehicle is always a great choice. With a rental vehicle, you’ll have the freedom to explore all of the best Sea to Sky Highway stops.
Don’t want to drive? The YVR Skylynx bus service shuttles travelers between Vancouver and Squamish or Whistler. Enjoy the scenic views along the Sea to Sky Highway, or take advantage of the free on-board Wi-Fi. Either way, this shuttle is quick and convenient!
For a sightseeing day trip, try this Vancouver to Whistler coach tour. You’ll leave from Vancouver to explore the Sea to Sky Highway, with stops at Shannon Falls Provincial Park, the Sea to Sky Gondola, and Whistler Village, before heading back to Vancouver.
Of course, flying between Vancouver and Whistler is also possible and offers breathtaking aerial views of the Howe Sound and coastal mountains! Floatplanes (operating from May through September) are the best option for air travel between Vancouver and Whistler. You can also charter a helicopter, but this is much more expensive.
Lastly, for the brave, cycling the Sea to Sky Highway is an option. The shoulders along Highway 99 are wide enough for biking, although the highway is quite busy. Biking the Sea to Sky Highway is certainly not for the faint of heart and you must be comfortable with riding next to traffic!
Best Places to Stop on the Sea to Sky Highway
With epic mountains, coastal forests, towering waterfalls, and a beautiful glacial fjord, driving along the Sea to Sky Highway is breathtaking. The drive itself is incredibly beautiful but there are also many spots to stop and explore along the way.
From the picturesque Stawamus Chief in Squamish to the beautiful Brandywine Falls near Whistler, there are many stunning stops along the highway. Below, we cover some of the best places to stop along the Sea to Sky Highway so you can plan out your next road trip itinerary!
1. West Vancouver
Start your road trip along the Sea to Sky Highway by exploring the best attractions that West Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay have to offer. This popular West Coast city offers beautiful sandy beaches, coastal rainforests, and a mild climate — so mild that the city rarely even gets snow!
Those who live in Vancouver may want to pass through to explore the rest of the Sea to Sky Highway. But, if you haven’t explored the area, we highly recommend taking some time to see the beauty of West Vancouver!
Best Things to Do Around West Vancouver
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the best (and most popular) things to do in Metro Vancouver. This fun-filled outdoor park showcases the natural beauty of the Capilano Canyon and surrounding coastal rainforest.
Explore a series of wooden platforms, boardwalks, and suspension bridges through the treetops and over the Capilano Canyon. Get a rush of adrenaline as you walk along the Cliffwalk and then enjoy a meal at the Cliff House Restaurant.
The park is open year-round, with special light displays during holidays (like their Canyon Lights event during November to January).
Located by the Capilano River and Lions Gate Bridge, Ambleside Park is a beautiful place to start your Sea to Sky Highway road trip.
This top Vancouver park features one of the best beaches in Vancouver. Spacious and sandy, Ambleside Beach is a great place to head on a hot and sunny day. There’s also a dog-friendly part of the beach, so it’s a good place for dog owners to stop!
One of the North Shore Mountains, Grouse Mountain is packed with fun-filled outdoor things to do. Ride the aerial Skyride tram to the Peak Chalet, see wildlife like grizzly bears, explore the alpine forest, go skating, or hit the slopes for some skiing or snowboarding.
For those who enjoy hiking, get your heart pumping on the Grouse Grind, an intense 2.5 km hike up Grouse Mountain. To relax afterwards, visit the Theatre in the Sky or grab some food at the Altitudes Bistro or Observatory restaurants.
Lighthouse Park is one of the most recognizable parks in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The park features old growth coastal forest and iconic red-and-white lighthouse buildings on the rocky shore of Point Atkinson in West Vancouver.
The lighthouse overlooks the incredibly scenic waters of the Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound. The park has walking trails that are great to explore at any time of year and are great even as a rainy day hike.
Want to see the iconic lighthouse from the water? This 90-minute boat tour will take you right to Lighthouse Park, as well as other Vancouver attractions like Stanley Park and English Bay Beach.
Cypress Provincial Park
Cypress Provincial Park is a 3,012 hectare protected area that encompasses several of the North Shore Mountains. Part of the park is accessible by road, while you can only get to the other half on hiking trails.
Home to the Cypress Mountain ski resort, the provincial park has excellent skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, snow tubing and more. In the summer, explore one of the park’s incredible hiking trails, like the Bowen Lookout and Saint Marks Summit.
Make sure to stop at the Cypress Lookout on your drive up the mountain! Here, you’ll get a spectacular view of Burrard Inlet and the Lions Gate Bridge, with the city of Vancouver as a backdrop.
Cypress Falls Park
Nearby Cypress Provincial Park, you’ll find the scenic Cypress Falls Park. Within this park, you can walk to two beautiful waterfalls: Cypress Waterfall and Lower Cypress Falls.
Both waterfalls are accessed on relatively easy hikes. The trails take you through a forest of old-growth Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees. These hiking trails are low elevation and forested, making them a great choice for a winter hike in Vancouver!
For spectacular views of the Howe Sound and Bowen Island, stop at Whytecliff Park on the west side of Horseshoe Bay.
One of the first Marine Protected Areas in Canada and home to a diverse number of marine species, Whytecliff Park is a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling. It’s also great for swimming, picnicking, playing tennis, and more!
Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions sunbathing on the beach in summer. And, at low tide, clamber across the exposed rocks to reach the scenic Whyte Islet. Be careful not to slip on the rocks!
Where to Eat in West Vancouver
Beach House Restaurant
The Beach House Restaurant is one of the best upscale places to eat local seafood in West Vancouver. From roasted salmon to raw oysters, this restaurant focuses on a seafood-centric menu paired with regional wines — and they do it well!
Best of all? The Beach House sits right on the Burrard Inlet waterfront near Dundarave Beach. Dine on West Coast foods while enjoying ocean views! On the pricier side, this is a great restaurant to visit if you want to indulge and treat yourself to an excellent meal.
Olive & Anchor
With a relaxed atmosphere, cute patio, and great pub food, the Olive & Anchor is our favorite place to stop for a meal and drinks in Horseshoe Bay! Close to the ocean, this pub makes for a great start to a road trip up the Sea to Sky Highway — especially if you’re arriving on the ferry at the Horseshoe Bay terminal.
The Olive & Anchor features pub-style foods like fish & chips, but it also has some less-standard items, like bibimbap. There are lots of different foods to choose from and everything that we’ve tried has been amazing!
Where to Stay Close to West Vancouver
Deciding on exactly where to stay around West Vancouver? There aren’t really many hotels in West Vancouver, so you’re better off staying in one of the nearby regions, either downtown Vancouver or North Vancouver. These areas will offer more choice and better accommodations.
Here are our recommendations for the best places to stay when starting your Sea to Sky Highway road trip from Vancouver!
Hostel — Samesun Vancouver
Staying at the Samesun Vancouver is probably your best bet if you want to save some money and don’t mind staying at a hostel. Choose between a dorm room bed or for a bit more money, a private room. There are also common lounge areas, guest kitchens, laundry facilities, and a free breakfast.
Located on Granville Street, the Samesun hostel is close to all of downtown Vancouver’s best attractions. There’s also an on-site bar called the Beaver Taphouse. One downside is that the hostel can get a bit noisy (this is common with hostels) so bring earplugs!
Budget-Friendly — YWCA Hotel Vancouver
The YWCA Hotel Vancouver offers great affordable accommodations in downtown Vancouver. With clean comfortable rooms, friendly staff, great amenities, and a convenient location, we highly recommend this budget-friendly hotel for your stay in Vancouver!
While the YWCA has similar amenities to a hostel (like shared guest kitchens and lounge areas), all of the rooms are private! However, you can choose between bathrooms that are private, semi-private (shared between two rooms), or in the hallway.
Mid-Range — Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier
The Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier has spectacular ocean views and a great location on North Vancouver’s waterfront. Right beside the Lonsdale Quay Market and Waterfront Park, there’s lots to do near this hotel.
There are harbourview or mountainside rooms with king-sized beds or doubles, as well as spacious studios and pet-friendly rooms. If you’re into working out, they have a large fitness room with all kinds of training equipment, as well as a big indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, and steam room.
Luxury — Fairmont Pacific Rim
The Fairmont Pacific Rim offers an upscale hotel experience in downtown Vancouver. The modern rooms feature super comfortable beds and marble spa bathrooms. From your guest room, enjoy city views or watch floatplanes take off from Burrard Inlet with the mountains in the background.
As one of the Vancouver’s best luxury 5-star hotels, a stay at the Fairmont Pacific Rim is a great way to treat yourself while on vacation. Sip cocktails at their Botanist Bar, rejuvenate at the Willow Stream Spa, dine at the Lobby Lounge & RawBar, or sunbathe beside the the rooftop pool.
After West Vancouver, the next major stop on the Sea to Sky Highway is Squamish. A mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, Squamish is surrounded by breathtaking wilderness, from epic mountains to glacial fjords.
The impressive Stawamus Chief — one of the largest granite monoliths in the world — is the heart of Squamish. With incredible rock climbing and spectacular views from the top, you don’t want to miss this impressive mountain!
Squamish is 45 km from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver and the drive will take at least 45 minutes (with extra time for stops along the way).
Best Things to Do in Squamish
Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Porteau Cove Provincial Park is a beautiful place to stop while driving the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Squamish. Located on the edge of the Howe Sound, you’ll get scenic views of this glacially-carved fjord, especially at sunset.
Known for its incredible underwater diving, Porteau Cove Provincial Park features artificial reefs, sunken shipwrecks, and is home to over 100 marine species. Look for animals like sea stars, lingcod, and octopuses while diving!
For non-divers, Porteau Cove has a pebble beach to explore. There is also swimming, beachcombing, windsurfing, camping, and a boat launch.
Murrin Provincial Park
Murrin Provincial Park is full of big trees, a charming lake, and plenty of rock walls. The park is right beside the Sea to Sky Highway, just 2 kilometers past Britannia Beach and about 9 km before Squamish.
With Browning Lake, the park is a popular destination for swimming in summer, as well as fishing. Around the lake, there are a number of trails that’ll take you to excellent views, like the Quercus Viewpoint on the Murrin Loop Trail.
Home to a number of excellent crags, Murrin Provincial Park is also quite popular with rock climbers. There are plenty of choices for where to climb in the park, including walls like Sugarloaf, Shaman, and the Petrifying Wall.
Britannia Mine Museum
Once a copper mine, the Britannia Mine Museum in Britannia Beach is now one of the best museums around Squamish and the Lower Mainland. This fun-filled, award-winning facility gives you a chance to learn all about mining in BC.
While a mining museum might not sound like one of the best things to do along the Sea to Sky Highway, the Britannia Mine Museum will prove that idea wrong! With underground tours, immersive shows, and interesting exhibits, you’re bound to have a blast here.
Enjoy the live-action BOOM! experience, ride on an underground mine train, try your hand at gold panning, learn the science of mining in the Terra Lab, and more! There’s plenty to explore including historical buildings like Mill 3 — a designated Canadian National Historic Site.
Only 10 minutes south of Squamish, the museum is a great place to stop as you near town. Don’t forget to take a picture in front of the gigantic haul truck!
Shannon Falls Provincial Park
Shannon Falls Provincial Park features the third tallest waterfall in British Columbia. Cascading down the cliffs from a massive height of 335 meters, this waterfall is quite breathtaking at any time of year.
As you drive into Squamish on Highway 99, you’ll spot the massive Shannon Falls just before the Stawamus Chief. With the waterfall only minutes from the parking lot, this is one of the best and most convenient stops on a Sea to Sky Highway road trip.
For a more challenging adventure, hike the 2.4-km Shannon Falls Pools Trail. A steep hike (often more of a scramble), this lesser-known hiking trail takes you to the beautiful pools along the upper part of the waterfall, with epic views along the way!
Sea to Sky Gondola
Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola to spectacular heights above Squamish and the Howe Sound. At the summit, you’ll be 885 m above sea level, with breathtaking mountain vistas all around you.
About a 10-minute long ride up Mount Habrich, the Sea to Sky Gondola gives amazing views of the entire Squamish Valley. Pass high above the coastal trees and watch for hikers down below!
At the top, walk across the 100-meter long Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, which offers 360º alpine views. Explore the mountain’s summit with the Squamish Via Ferrata, an assisted climbing route up steel rungs, cables, bridges, and a catwalk — no climbing experience needed!
There are also frontcountry and backcountry hiking trails at the summit, like the Spirit Trail and Panorama Trail, with viewpoints overlooking different parts of the valley. Try hiking the Sea to Summit Trail to the top and then take the gondola down.
Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is the crown jewel of Squamish. The park is home to the impressive Stawamus Chief (known by locals simply as “the Chief”), a three peak granite monolith overlooking the Howe Sound and town of Squamish.
Offering world-class rock climbing, the Stawamus Chief is the main reason why Squamish is such a popular destination for rock climbers. From big multi-pitch climbs on The Grand Wall to technical bouldering at the mountain’s base, climbers from across the world head to Squamish to test their skills and mettle.
Additionally, the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park has some of the best hikes in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Follow the Stawamus Chief Trail to the First (610 m), Second (655 m) or Third Peaks (702 m). Or, hike the Sea to Summit Trail to the top of Mount Habrich and then ride the Sea to Sky gondola back down!
Town of Squamish
Make sure to take some time to explore the town of Squamish on your Sea to Sky Highway road trip. The town itself is quite charming and worth a stop.
Walk down Cleveland Avenue — the main drag in Squamish — to find restaurants, shops, and more. Look for murals painted during the Squamish Arts Festival and Squamish Mural Festival as you explore. Listen to live music at Junction Park or if you’re passing through at the right time, the Squamish Constellation Festival or Amped in the Park.
Dine at one of the restaurants in town, like The Watershed Grill, Zephyr Café, or The Copper Coil Still & Grill. And, taste locally-made drinks at the craft breweries, cideries, distilleries, or coffee roasters on the Squamish Craft Tasting Trail.
On Saturdays in April through December, stop by the Squamish Farmers’ Market. Here, you’ll find all kinds of local goods, from homegrown vegetables to handcrafted souvenirs.
Test your nerves at the aerial ropes adventure course or learn about the history of trains at the Railway Museum of British Columbia. Stop by the Squamish Spit and Estuary to watch windsurfers and kitesurfers playing in the wind — or try the sports yourself!
Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park
Want to spot majestic bald eagles in their natural habitat? Stop at the Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park viewpoint in Squamish!
Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park is a 755 hectare conservation area that protects critical bald eagle wintering habitat on the west side of the Squamish River Valley. During winter, these massive raptors congregate in the park to roost and fish for salmon in the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers.
While the park itself is inaccessible to people, there’s an awesome viewpoint at the Eagle Run Vista Point by Government Road and the Watershed Grill. Best visited in October to early January, this eagle lookout directly faces Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park. Bring binoculars for the best views!
Alice Lake Provincial Park
Alice Lake Provincial Park features four beautiful freshwater lakes surrounded by thick forest and stunning mountains. With good swimming in summer, a playground, and easy walking trails, visiting this park is a top family-friendly thing to do around Squamish.
Those wishing to explore the park can walk the Four Lakes Trail which takes you to see Alice, Stump, Edith, and Fawn Lakes, as well as the Cheekye River. If it’s summer, make sure to go swimming at one of the two sandy beaches on Alice Lake!
Haven’t had enough of lakes? Some other great lakes to visit around Squamish include Elfin Lakes and Garibaldi Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park (we highly recommend hiking to these spots), Browning Lake at Murrin Provincial Park, Cat Lake and Brohm Lake.
Make sure to stop at the Tantalus Lookout as you drive towards Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. The viewpoint is about 18 km outside of Squamish, with a stopping area for both northbound and southbound travelers.
This roadside stop is at an elevation of 320 m above sea level, offering awesome views of the Tantalus Mountain Range. Take some photos of the mountains and valley, stretch your legs, and then continue your journey onwards!
Where to Eat in Squamish
The Watershed Grill
One of the best places to eat in Squamish is the Watershed Grill. Located along the edge of the Squamish River in Brackendale, this riverside patio has some of the best views that you’ll get from a restaurant. It’s our favorite for the views alone, but the food is quite good too!
The Watershed Grill serves pub-style foods like burgers, sandwiches, and poutine. The restaurant is a popular watering hole for locals, so it can get busy on weekends!
The Copper Coil Still & Grill
Located in downtown Squamish near Junction Park, the Copper Coil Still & Grill is an amazing place to stop for a bite to eat when you’re wandering around town. They serve Cajun-inspired foods like New Orleans jambalaya, po’ boys, and blackened chicken.
They have a great outdoor patio with an amazing view of the Stawamus Chief. Best of all, part of the patio is dog-friendly! When we were travelling with our corgis, it was nice finding a restaurant that allow us to bring them.
In our opinion, Fergie’s Cafe is the best restaurant in Squamish for breakfast and brunch foods. They use locally-sourced foods and make a pretty good eggs benny!
Located at the Sunwolf Riverside Cabins by the Cheekye and Cheakamus Rivers, this charming café is surrounded by wilderness. With a large open air patio and picnic tables too, they integrate the restaurant right into nature (although there is indoor seating for days with bad weather).
Where to Stay in Squamish
Hostel — Squamish Adventure Inn & Hostel
The main hostel in town is the Squamish Adventure Inn & Hostel and it’s a pretty great place to stay if you’re traveling on a budget. There are dorm room beds, private bedrooms, or for a few extra dollars, hotel-style rooms or kitchenette suites.
The hostel is nestled in between the Sea to Sky Highway and the water. Everyone here is really friendly and it’s a great place to meet outdoorsy friends for rock climbing and hiking!
Budget-Friendly — Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
The Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company is a great boutique hotel in downtown Squamish. They are located right downtown so you’ll be close to all the action.
The rooms have everything you need for a cozy stay, all at an affordable price. Plus it’s right above a craft brewery — so you can get room service right from the brewpub!
Mid-Range — Sunwolf Riverside Cabins
If you’re looking for an escape from the city, the Sunwolf Riverside Cabins in Brackendale (on the north side of Squamish) would be the best hotel for you. Surrounded by beautiful nature and with no TV or internet in the room, these rustic cabins are an awesome spot to disconnect from the world and recharge.
The cabins are all wonderful and perfect for nature-lovers. They have a communal fire pit, and are right beside the Cheekye and Cheakamus Rivers. One of the best brunch restaurants in Squamish — Fergie’s Cafe — is also right on the property. Make sure to check it out during your stay!
Luxury — Executive Suites Hotel and Resort
One of the more luxurious hotels around Squamish is the Executive Suites Hotel and Resort. Close to the Sea to Sky Highway, the hotel is framed by scenic mountains and forest. They have studios, 1- and 2-bedroom suites with their own kitchen and private balconies.
Our favorite part of the hotel is the outdoor swimming pool. It’s heated so you can swim year-round. Swim a lap while enjoying the incredible mountain vistas all around you!
Whistler is known for incredible mountain landscapes, thrilling ski resorts, and epic alpine wilderness. Whether you love exploring the outdoors or want to enjoy Whistler’s indoor attractions, this mountain town is home to all kinds of fun activities.
When there’s snow on the ground, Whistler turns into a winter wonderland. Hit the slopes for some skiing or snowboarding, go cross-country skiing, ice skating, or even dog sledding.
During summer, follow hiking trails to waterfalls and epic mountain viewpoints, swim in the lakes, and try all kinds of adrenaline-filled activities like bungee jumping!
The town of Whistler is 59 km north from Squamish, which takes approximately 45 minutes to drive. However, there are some beautiful stops along the way, like Garibaldi Lake and Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, so the drive will likely take much longer with all the stops!
Best Things to Do in Whistler
Garibaldi Provincial Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park features some of the most beautiful wilderness in all of BC. With snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, thick forests, ancient glaciers, and wildflower meadows, the entire park is breathtaking.
Spanning an impressive 1,950 km2, the park extends from Squamish in the south and goes almost all the way to Pemberton! Only about an hour outside of Vancouver, the park is a must-see on a Sea to Sky Highway road trip.
With over 90 km of hiking trails, Garibaldi Park is a hiker’s paradise. One of the most popular hikes here (and one of the best hiking trails in all of BC) is the trail to Garibaldi Lake, an incredibly photogenic turquoise lake in the heart of the park. The entire trail is 18 km which takes about 7 hours of hiking — but it’s absolutely worth the trek!
Other popular trails in Garibaldi Provincial Park include Panorama Ridge (offers unbelievable views of Garibaldi Lake), Elfin Lakes (two alpine lakes surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery), and Wedgemount Lake (a grueling uphill trek to a beautiful mountain lake).
Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is an awesome spot to stop and see a gorgeous waterfall. We consider this huge waterfall to be one of the must-see spots on a Sea to Sky Highway road trip.
This epic waterfall is about 70 meters tall and not too far from the parking lot. You only have to walk about 1.3 km total for these amazing waterfall views!
If you follow the Sea to Sky Trail, you’ll also come across Bungee Bridge over the Cheakamus River — home to the adrenaline-pumping Whistler Bungee. Jump if you dare!
Whistler Train Wreck Hike
Hiking to the Whistler Train Wreck is one of the more unique things to do along the Sea to Sky Highway. For a shorter year-round hike that’s family-friendly, this is a great option!
A popular 2.3 km hike, the trail takes you to the site of a graffitied train wreck. The colorful train cars are interesting to explore, scattered in among the trees. Also, the trail includes crossing the Cheakamus River on a suspension bridge — it’s fun and very scenic!
Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort
One of the biggest ski resorts in North America, the world-famous Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort is a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts from all over the globe. Ski or snowboard the slopes all day and then head into Whistler Village for après-ski activities!
Don’t feel like skiing or snowboarding? Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to experience the mountains from above, with spectacular 360-degree views along the entire 13.5-km journey.
There’s lots to do at the Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort. Go tubing at the bubly™ Tube Park in Blackcomb Mountain’s Base 2 Zone. For families, take your children to play at the Magic Castle on Blackcomb Mountain or Tree Fort on Whistler Mountain.
In the summer, walk the alpine hiking trails, cross the Peak Suspension Bridge or test your skills at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
If you’re visiting in winter, make sure to check out the Whistler Blackcomb Fire & Ice event at the resort. During this exciting outdoor show, you’ll watch daring athletes jump through a ring of fire, dancers play with fire, and end the night with fireworks!
At the base of the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, you’ll find the lively Whistler Village. Packed with shops, restaurants, entertainment, and plenty of other things to do and see, make sure to add exploring this charming town into your Sea to Sky itinerary!
Whistler Village is easy to explore on foot. The Village Stroll — a pedestrian-only promenade through the heart of town — takes you from the Skier’s Plaza near the gondolas all the way to the Olympic Plaza and Olympic Medals Pavilion in Village North.
There are plenty of indoor things to do around Whistler Village, as well. Enjoy après-ski celebrations at one of the restaurants or grab drinks with friends at a pub. Learn about Indigenous culture at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre or view some local art pieces at the Audain Art Museum.
Where to Eat in Whistler
Can’t decide on where to eat in Whistler? Join a fine dining dinner tour — complete with sabering open a bottle of Champagne!
Craving Italian food? Head to Caramba! Restaurant beside the Town Plaza in Whistler Village.
They serve tasty European-inspired cuisine and have a great atmosphere. Their calamari is to die for and we really love their wood-fired Funghi Bianco pizza too.
They’re a pretty popular restaurant and get busy during dinner. Going for happy hour (4 to 5 p.m.) might help you beat the rush!
21 Steps Kitchen + Bar
21 Steps Kitchen + Bar makes you feel like you’re indulging but at a slightly more affordable price than some of the other fancy restaurants in Whistler Village. Their casual atmosphere and great food make for an enjoyable evening of dining out.
Plus, with a second story location, you’ll have a great view of the town and mountains as you eat!
Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar
If you want to treat yourself on vacation, head to the Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar. One of the best restaurants in Whistler for fine dining, this upscale restaurant has a reputation for amazing locally-sourced seafood and of course — delicious oysters.
While their menu is seafood-focused, they are also known for their farm-to-table entrees, indulgent desserts, and perfectly paired wines.
Where to Stay in Whistler
Whistler is a great place to visit but the hotels do get pricy in the winter. Just keep this in mind as you decide on where to stay in Whistler!
Hostel — Pangea Pod Hotel
Pangea Pod Hotel offers great capsule-style accommodations with a bit more privacy than a traditional hostel but a comparable budget-friendly price. They have an on-site café and bar, with a rooftop patio — so there are lots of socializing opportunities too!
The pods are clean, cozy and roomy, with wood walls on all sides but the one that has a sliding curtain for privacy. There’s enough space to sit up and move around, and a cabinet to lock up valuables like your phone. They also provide gear storage so you have somewhere to keep your snowboard or skis!
Budget-Friendly — The Crystal Lodge
The Crystal Lodge Hotel features budget-friendly accommodations close to the Skier’s Plaza and Village Stroll in Whistler. While not as expensive as some of the other hotels in town, this hotel has everything you need during your stay.
The hotel has well-equipped guest rooms, great amenities, a hot tub for relaxing in the evening, and a heated outdoor pool. Overall, it’s one of the best affordable hotels in Whistler!
Mid-Range — Summit Lodge Hotel
Summit Lodge is one of the top boutique hotels in Whistler with a mid-range price, located on Main Street near the Whistler Olympic Plaza. With it’s outdoor pool and hot tub, casual friendly atmosphere, great guest rooms and more, you won’t want to leave!
Our favorite thing about this boutique hotel is that it’s extremely pet friendly. It’s one of the best hotels to stay at in Whistler if you’re traveling with pets. They don’t even charge a pet fee, unlike most other hotels!
Luxury — Fairmont Chateau Whistler
You really can’t get much better than the Fairmont Chateau Whistler if you’re looking for luxury. An elegant hotel with incredible service, clean comfortable guest rooms, and best of all, a ski-in/ski-out location by Blackcomb Mountain, you won’t regret a stay here!
We loved swimming in the multiple indoor and outdoor pools at this hotel. Our favorite parts of the hotel though were their hot tubs, barrel saunas and fire pits — perfect after a long day on the slopes!
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Don’t end the journey at Whistler! Pemberton is another beautiful mountain town along the Sea to Sky Highway that’s worth a visit.
With soaring snowy mountains, spectacular ice caves, and gorgeous waterfalls, you won’t regret adding this extra stop into your Sea to Sky Highway road trip itinerary before heading back to Vancouver.
While many people consider Whistler to be the end of the Sea to Sky Highway, Pemberton is only 30-minutes further. After Pemberton, the Sea to Sky Highway (aka Highway 99) turns into Duffey Lake Road, which then leads to Lillooet. This means that Pemberton is the official end of the Sea to Sky Highway!
Things to Do in Pemberton
One Mile Lake Park
One Mile Lake Park is a popular summer destination for swimmers, paddleboarders, picnickers, and families. Within the park, you’ll find a scenic lake with a sandy beach and piers for swimmers. The beautiful lake is surrounded by mountains, rolling hills, and forest.
Campers staying at the Nairn Falls Campground can walk all the way to One Mile Lake Park. Follow the Sea to Sky Trail from the campground to get to the lake — it’ll take about 30 minutes of walking!
Nairn Falls Provincial Park
Visiting Nairn Falls Provincial Park is one of the best things to do around Pemberton.
This beautiful park features the 60 meter tall Nairn Falls which flows through a rocky channel. The waterfall is accessed on a 1.5 km hiking trail from the parking lot.
Much of Nairn Falls Provincial Park consists of a campground beside Green River. If you’re looking for a drive-in campground around Pemberton, this is the best choice!
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
Brilliant turquoise lakes, stunning jagged mountains with glacier icefields, and dense conifer forest make Joffre Lakes Provincial Park a beautiful place to visit at any time of year.
Starting with a trailhead near the Sea to Sky Highway, the Joffre Lakes Trailhead takes you past three beautiful alpine lakes — Lower, Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes — which get more beautiful as you go. There’s even backcountry camping at the Upper Lake Campground!
Along the trail, you’ll also walk past Holloway Falls, between Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes. The waterfall rushes through the lush forest and cascades down boulders as a torrent of crashing water.
To see all three lakes, you’ll have to hike for 7.4 km round trip. Experienced mountaineers can also attempt the Slalok and Tszil Mountain summits.
Where to Eat in Pemberton
Mile One Eating House
Located just off Highway 99, the Mile One Eating House is a convenient place to stop on a road trip!
They serve a variety of comfort foods (like mac & cheese and all kinds of hot dogs). The meals are made with fresh local ingredients, served in big portions, and reasonably priced.
The best part about the Mile One Eating House is their outdoor patio. Enjoy fantastic views of Mount Currie while you eat!
Craving a burger? Head to The Pony, a rustic restaurant located in the heart of Pemberton! They serve delicious pub-style foods made from ethically sourced and locally-grown ingredients from the Sea to Sky region.
With an old-fashioned feel, The Pony restaurant has a great vibe and a lovely outdoor patio. They’re the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat after a long hike!
Where to Stay in Pemberton
Pemberton is a small town, so there aren’t many options for accommodations. They don’t have a hostel and the fanciest hotel is what we consider mid-range. Even so, when staying here, you’ll be in the mountains! However, if you want more selection or higher end hotels, we recommend booking your stay in Whistler or Squamish.
Pemberton Valley Lodge
Right at the base of Mount Currie, the Pemberton Valley Lodge is the best hotel around town. This affordable hotel has studios with kitchenettes and one- or two-bedroom suites with kitchens.
Nestled in among the mountains, this hotel is surrounded by spectacular scenery. Enjoy the views while relaxing in the outdoor hot tub or swimming laps in the pool. They also provide bikes and snowshoes for guests to use to explore the wilderness!
Campgrounds Along the Sea to Sky Highway
Want to camp while on your road trip? We definitely prefer camping while exploring the Sea to Sky Highway — what better way to fully experience the wonderful outdoors of this beautiful region!?
There are a number of different frontcountry and backcountry campgrounds along the Sea to Sky Highway. Here is a complete list of all the Sea to Sky frontcountry (some drive-in, some walk-in) campgrounds:
- Porteau Cove Provincial Park
- Klahanie Campground
- Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
- Squamish Municipal Campground
- Mamquam River Campground
- MTN Fun Basecamp
- Alice Lake Provincial Park
- Paradise Valley Campground
- Cat Lake Recreation Site
- Whistler RV Park and Campground
- Cal-Cheak Recreation Site
- Nairn Falls Campground
If you’re into backcountry camping, the Sea to Sky region offers some of the most beautiful scenery for backpacking — like at Garibaldi Lake Provincial Park or Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.
How Many Days for a Sea to Sky Highway Road Trip?
Wondering how long to spend exploring the Sea to Sky Highway? While you can drive the Sea to Sky Highway in a few hours, we recommend taking at least two to three days to explore the region.
You want to leave yourself plenty of time to explore all that the Sea to Sky Corridor has to offer. We find that a two-day road trip through this region is do-able, but felt somewhat rushed. This is especially true if you want to do any longer adventures, like skiing or hiking. We could easily fill a week (or two) up with exploring along this beautiful highway!
Sea to Sky Highway Frequently Asked Question
Is the Sea to Sky Highway Open or Closed?
The Sea to Sky Highway sometimes closes due to hazardous driving conditions, like snowstorms. It’ll also close for serious vehicle crashes that prevent traffic from moving.
To see if the Sea to Sky Highway is open or closed, check DriveBC. This website is run by BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure so it has all of the most up-to-date information on road conditions, incidents, construction, and other route information for the entire province.
Is the Sea to Sky Highway Safe to Drive?
Yes, but this depends on the time of year. In good weather (sunny, dry, not snowing or raining, no fog, etc.), the Sea to Sky Highway is quite safe to drive. No matter what though, you’ll need to pay attention for all of the turns, hills, warning signs, speed limits, and other drivers!
During bad weather, the Sea to Sky Highway is more dangerous. Snow, ice, fog, hard rain, wind, and other bad weather conditions make the road treacherous. You’ll need to slow down and drive cautiously. Accidents can be common on Highway 99, especially in winter!
Are Snow Tires or Chains Required on the Sea to Sky Highway?
From October 1 to March 31, you are required to use snow tires on your vehicle when driving the Sea to Sky Highway.
Winter tires should have the mountain/snowflake symbol, although the M+S symbol is also legal (but not recommended). The tires also need to have a tread depth of at least 3.5mm. Summer tires or worn down tires aren’t legal or safe in the winter — and the police do check and issue fines if you’re caught without proper tires!
For extreme conditions, you can also carry chains for use on your winter tires, but this is not required for smaller vehicles. We recommend avoiding the road though, if it’s bad enough that you’d need chains! Also, summer tires with chains are not an appropriate substitute for winter tires.
From April 1 to September 30, you don’t need winter tires or chains. Sometimes there is a late or early snow, so check the road conditions and weather before your road trip!
How Long Is the Sea to Sky Highway?
The Sea to Sky Highway is 134-kilometers (83 miles) long, stretching from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton.
When Was the Sea to Sky Highway Built?
The Sea to Sky Highway was officially completed in the 1960s. In 1958, the section between Vancouver and Squamish (once called the Seaview Highway) was completed and opened. By 1965, the route to Pemberton was opened, although unpaved.
Why Is It Called the Sea to Sky Highway?
The Sea to Sky Highway earned it’s name because it stretches from the coast (the Sea) all the way to the mountains (the Sky)!
Is the Sea to Sky Highway Worth It?
Absolutely! We love driving and exploring along the Sea to Sky Highway. It’s a spectacular region, with everything from beautiful ocean scenery to epic mountain vistas. What’s not to like!
How Many Lanes Does the Sea to Sky Highway Have?
The Sea to Sky Highway has either four (two in each direction) or two lanes (one in each direction).
Between Vancouver and Whistler, most of the Sea to Sky Highway has four lanes but it does reduce down to two lanes in places. From Whistler to Pemberton, the highway is primarily two lanes.
Top Travel Tips for British Columbia
- Travel Insurance – If you’re travelling internationally, travel insurance is a must for any trip. Being covered by insurance is especially important when you’re going to an adventure-filled place like British Columbia. If you injure yourself while adventuring, you want to have insurance! We recommend using SafetyWing for international travel insurance. They are affordable and have great policies for travellers, digital nomads, and remote workers. Also, SafetyWing provides COVID-19 coverage, which many other insurance companies don’t cover.
- Car Rental – We find the best deal on vehicle rental prices using RentalCars.com. They compare the prices for different car rental companies so you can find the best deals out there!
- Accommodations – We prefer booking all of our hotels, hostels, and other accommodations through Booking.com because they have a flexible cancellation policy. Also, there are lots of different options on their platform, from hotels to vacation homes. Alternatively, Expedia and Hotels.com are good for booking accommodations. For vacation home rentals, VRBO is an excellent choice (they have lower fees than Airbnb, many of the same properties, and are more ethical).
- Flights – You’ll find many good flight deals on Skyscanner or Google Flights. You can book flights through these websites and they’ll help you find the best prices and flight times. If you fly at less popular times (e.g. mid-week or red-eye flights), you can also save some money.
- Tours – Get the most out of your vacation by taking a guided tour! This is a great way to see the city, adventure to exciting new locations, and learn about the local culture. Viator or GetYourGuide are great options for booking tours.