Driving the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler in British Columbia, Canada
One of the very first emotional connections we made, on our two-week baby boomer tour through western Canada, was the stunning drive up the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) from Vancouver to Whistler in Canada’s British Columbia.
To start our short story off, I thought it might be fun to share this painting I found of contemporary Canadian artist Glen Payan’s whimsical and colorful view of this majestic drive.
According to Wikipedia, “The “Sea to Sky Highway” section of Highway 99 has a checkered history. Built on a steep cliff overlooking Howe Sound, it was a two-lane undivided highway with no outside barrier. Many motorists have lost their lives on it due to inclement weather, poor visibility, speeding, passing slower vehicles, or drunk driving. In fact, local media have dubbed it the “Killer Highway”, the “Highway of Death”, and the “Ski-And-Die Highway”.”
However, as part of Canada’s successful bid to win the 2010 Winter Olympics, the highway has been completely overhauled and has now become a treasured resource to admire the area’s scenic beauty.
As you cross Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, across the Lion’s Gate Bridge (pictured left), you are quickly transported from busy metropolis to a panoramic winding highway making its way north toward Squamish and Whistler.
The first 42 miles of the Sea to Sky Highway weaves its way along the cliff-side, offering stunning vistas of the adjoining Howe Sound with its collection of picturesque islands.
Our journey up the Sea to Sky Highway was checkered with clouds, gray skies, and raindrops. So rather than share a color photograph with gray skies, I thought I would see if I could come up with a photograph that more celebrated the grayish hues. How did I do?
The photograph above was taken just as we were approaching the town of Sqaumish. After Squamish, we left the Howe Sound and the landscape quickly turned to towering pines with white-capped mountain peaks in the background.
As we continued our way to Whistler, another exciting part of the adventure would be a fair number of black bear sightings. The shaky video here shows one of our black bear sightings as I quickly worked to maneuver the car from 90 kph down to zero to catch this black bear feeding along the side of the road.
As it turned out, we had the opportunity to make quite a few black bear sightings before we got to our hotel room in Whistler.
All in all, the roughly two-hour drive from Vancouver to Whistler, along the Sea to Sky Highway, is certain to be a memorable experience for baby boomer travelers. Whether you make the journey as a day trip, or plan to spend the night in Whistler, we highly recommend it.
In parting, here is a final photograph that we captured from our Sea to Sky Highway journey.
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