Via Lillooet & Mount Robson
Our road trip continued as we started out on the scenic highways for our Whistler to Jasper Drive. Our route today took us through some interesting places, for instance, Lillooet & Hundred Mile House.
Just outside Whistler, I spotted this sign by the side of the road. So, yes, we definitely are in bear country here. Bears are such fascinating creatures and it’s so very sad to discover that Grizzly bears are endangered. Even though I don’t want to meet one up close, I still want them to live freely in their normal habitat.
Straightaway on the Whistler to Jasper Drive, the scenery was spectacular. Fortunately, there are also plenty of places to pull over and take photos. Whenever we’re on a road trip like this we always take it at a leisurely pace with plenty of stops and time to look around.
When I planned the route for our Whistler to Jasper drive, I saw the small town of Lillooet and thought it would be an interesting place to stop. In fact, Lillooet is in St’at’imc Territory, one of the First Nations of Canada.
I was fascinated by it mainly because it is at Mile 0 of the Cariboo Gold Rush. Due to this, it was once the 2nd largest town west of Chicago in North America. Indeed, in 1860, only San Francisco was bigger. So, as one of the oldest towns in Canada, Lillooet is a particularly historic place to visit.
Our visit started at the Visitor Centre in the centre of town. This is also the town’s museum and it turned out to be a very interesting little place. Inside, it is packed with memorabilia which showcases the history of Lillooet through the ages.
I was amazed by the sheer volume of objects collected here. Most are evidence of day-to-day life in Lillooet and I think that’s what makes it so interesting. You can see the everyday objects that people used and then imagine them as they set out in search of gold.
As well as giving us a fascinating insight into the history of the area, we also got some excellent tourist information. We were welcomed into the museum by a lovely local lady who also gave us tips on things to see as we continued our Whistler to Jasper drive. She showed us some fabulous bear photographs which she had taken herself and even suggested places we might spot some if we were very patient.
Runaway Train Wreck
Just outside the visitor centre, you can also see this memorial. It’s a memorial to a more recent part of Lillooet’s history. In June 2006 the Lillooet Switcher, a freight train, lost control on the steep track just outside downtown Lillooet. The conductor and one of the engineers were tragically killed when the train derailed. Fortunately, the other engineer survived despite serious injuries. On top of the memorial is the bell from the original locomotive and this is dedicated to those who lost their lives.
Also nearby is a small memorial park which was donated to the village by Mr and Mrs Downton in memory of their son who was killed in action overseas during the Second World War.
100 Mile House
It’s too far to drive all the way from Whistler to Jasper in one day especially if you want to stop and take in the scenery on the way. So we stopped overnight at 100 Mile House, a small community on Highway 97 and ideally located for us to turn onto Highway 24 the next day.
I confess I had never heard of 100 Mile House and I chose it because it was approximately halfway on the Whistler to Jasper drive. You can read my full review of 94 Motel where we stayed here.
Mount Robson Provincial Park
After a comfortable night at the 94 Motel, we headed off on Highway 24 towards Jasper. We made a few scenic stops but the main one was at the Mount Robson visitor centre. As you can see in the photo above, low lying cloud meant we didn’t get a great view of the mountain but we did enjoy visiting the exhibition.
Mount Robson is actually the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 metres. Obviously, it’s the star attraction of this provincial park but there’s plenty more to discover as well. You’ll find over 180 species of birds here as well as bears, goats, caribou and sheep.
As you walk into the visitor’s centre you’ll find a large array of tourist information booklets and maps on the first floor as well as clean toilets. Downstairs is a small exhibition area which has a series of exhibits on the various expeditions that have taken place on Mount Robson. You can also gain education on the natural environment. It’s well worth a visit.
It’s impossible to overstate just how scenic this area is. At every corner, there is something to stop and admire. If you plan on doing the same Whistler to Jasper drive then make sure you allow plenty of time because it would be a real shame to miss something.
These are just two of my favourite scenic photographs from this part of the road trip. Observe the difference in colours from place to place. The lake is an icy blue with fabulous reflections of the clouds in its still waters.
In contrast, the Frazer River is a cloudy green and you can see the strong current. I imagine it is glacial water again here like it was in Fitzsimmons Creek in Whistler. Whereas the sides of the lake are sparse and treeless, the banks of the river are lined with trees and shrubs. That’s the wonderful thing about a road trip in Western Canada. There is always something new and beautiful to view.