June 17, 2013 – The Sea-to-Sky highway takes you from Vancouver to the mountains up in Whistler. If you’re willing to leave the highway, there are quite a few things you can see in this part of BC in a day. We started the day at a tucked away spot called Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. This is a great park, with varied hiking trails throughout a Douglas Fir/Red Cedar forest. And this is where Louisa’s portion of the post ends. The remaining text was lost in an unfortunate email deletion, so I (Tony) will be writing the rest of the post. I apologize in advance.
After finishing our hike at Lighthouse Park, we continued our drive north towards Whistler. This part of the drive didn’t last long, since I felt the need for a coffee break. The closest town when the urge hit was… well… still West Vancouver. We parked at Horseshoe Bay Park and picked up a mocha and some pastries before actually continuing the drive towards Whistler.
The next stop on our epic journey was Shannon Falls Provincial Park, which is roughly 45 km from Lighthouse Park. In my opinion, this is a must see spot that offers a few options for viewing the falls. The first option is an observation area at the bottom of the falls, which doesn’t require much climbing. If you continue past that area, you’ll have a small uphill hike to a higher observation deck (the so-called second option). We went with the second option, and the view (shown below) was well worth it.
After enjoying the falls for an hour or so, we decided that it was time for some lunch. While cruising Squamish for restaurants (no cell phone service, so we had to do things the old fashioned way), we decided to check out a local chain called White Spot. The food was good, and the stop gave us a nice break from the drive. I can’t remember exactly what we ate during our meal, but I remember thinking that a return trip could be had on a subsequent trip to BC. Maybe a hypnotist can help us recall the contents of that meal.
Next stop, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.
This park had a really nice hiking trail that took us to a gorge and the viewing platform for the waterfall. These stops definitely add some variety to the drive, along with the mountains and water that you can see right from the road. The parking lot also serves as a base point for some longer hikes in the area, including a (not well-marked) hike to a suspension bridge.
After more driving, we finally made it to the outskirts of Whistler. Our first stop was the Whistler Olympic Park, or at least it was supposed to be. Like Oregon Historic Parks at 5pm, the park was closed when we arrived. It appeared that they were having a special event that day, so it is definitely worth checking their site if this is a major reason for your visit. The scenery was beautiful enough that we really weren’t bothered by the closure, and we continued on to the town itself.
Since it was getting late in the day, we decided to do a quick drive through town and turn around at Green Lake on the north end. Whistler has a pretty good network of walking/biking trails, and it’s easy to see why with the awesome mountain vistas throughout town.
On our return drive, we stopped at quite a few overlooks as we got closer to Vancouver. We also stopped at a Tim Hortons in Squamish for a coffee refill… and Wi-Fi. If you’ve never heard of Tim Hortons, it’s a magical donut/coffee shop in the northern US/Canada that will use chocolate milk in their mochas on request. We recommend trying that combo at least once. Like most coffee shops these days, they also have free Wi-Fi access. This comes in handy when you don’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on data roaming. Luckily, we were able to get around a flaming car near the Timmy Ho’s to get our coffee.
No joke – the car fire actually made the local radio station because one of the main roads to Squamish was blocked because of the fire. Don’t worry, no one was injured. This reminds me of a similar incident at a 711 many many years ago where a car started smoking and then caught on fire during my shift. While on the phone with the fire department, the driver asked if he could put water on an electrical fire. I think they rushed a little more after that question. And no, you should not put water on an electrical fire. You need a multipurpose fire extinguisher for that task. No, never water. NOT. WATER. Anyway…
Our final stops of the day were Horseshoe Bay Park in West Vancouver and Stanley Park. For dinner, we stopped at C-Lovers Fish & Chips. I think that we went with the onion rings, halibut, and prawns for this meal. It was a pretty standard fish & chips place, nothing spectacular, which was ok for me. At Stanley Park, we wanted to check out a sunset on the bay. The west side of the island was the best spot for this, pretty much anywhere from Prospect Point Cafe to The Teahouse Restaurant.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this rare travel post from me. And I also hope that this post will serve as our reminder to not lose the travel notes in the future.
Stay tuned for our next post on the drive back to Seattle, where I’m sure we have excellent travel notes. Wait… We don’t have notes for that one either? You know what this means.