Sea to Sky Highway
We woke up early on our first morning in Canada keen to start the drive from Vancouver to Whistler. I was really looking forward to seeing the amazing scenery along the Sea to Sky Highway. Unfortunately, I looked out of the window to see torrential rain and dark skies. Not a great start to the trip but we never let a bit of rain stop us.
So we gathered our belongings and set off north on highway 99. Originally, I wanted to stop at the Lighthouse Park which is just outside North Vancouver. However, we decided it was just too dark and gloomy. Instead, we continued north and headed for Squamish.
Squamish is a small town about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler so I planned to stop there for lunch. First, I wanted to go up the Sea to Sky Gondola. Unfortunately, my plans didn’t work out well today at all. Firstly, Paul didn’t want to go up a gondola to the top of a mountain in torrential rain. He said it was far too cloudy and we wouldn’t be able to see anything. I was kind of thinking this too. Secondly, the gondola was closed. That happens to me a lot for some reason. I checked before we left home and I’m sure it was open but either I misread it or they closed early due to the weather. Either way, it was closed and so we drove on by.
Sadly, we weren’t seeing the best of the Sea to Sky Highway as the skies were still really dark and visibility was low. At this point, I was a bit worried that we’d drive all the way from Vancouver to Whistler in a couple of hours and not see anything on the way. Anyway, we saw the sign for Squamish and decided to pull in and take a look.
This turned out to be a great decision. We parked easily and found a little cafe, Zephyr on the High Street. We settled down in the warm used the free wifi while we reassessed our plans. As you can see above, it was nice and cosy and a very inviting little place. If you’re passing through Squamish do pop in and take a look.
We sat for some time watching the rain from inside and wondering if it would brighten up at all. After a while, I thought the rain was lighter and we wanted to make the most of the trip.
We backtracked slightly as we passed the sign to Shannon Falls on our way to Squamish. By the time we drove the few miles back to Shannon Falls the rain had picked up again. However, I was determined to see something so we pulled on our coats, gloves and hats and made our way up to the Falls. Shannon Falls are lovely and there is also a nice trail up to the observation platform. We got very, very wet – but it was worth it. We weren’t the only people walking in the rain either although we only saw one other group while we were there.
Shannon Falls is actually the third highest falls in the province at around 335 metres tall. According to the official website, the waters come from Mount Habrich and Mount Sky Pilot. The name Shannon comes from the person who owned this area in the late 19th century but it is now a Provincial Park.
Our next stop was Brandywine Falls. We walked a bit further to find these falls as the car park is at the bottom of the trail but it’s not very far. As can be seen in the photo below I wrapped up well against the weather. We walked along a short trail and across this railway line until we came to the star attraction, Brandywine Falls.
Here you find a viewing platform overlooking the falls and you get an excellent view. Your view of the 70 metre high falls is particularly spectacular because the viewpoint allows you to look down on them as the water crashes into the valley below.
There is so much more to do along the Sea to Sky Highway as you drive from Vancouver to Whistler and I wish we had been able to do more. However, I think we made the best of it considering the poor weather. Moreover, I really enjoyed seeing the two waterfalls in full flow due to the volume of water to that was definitely a huge positive.