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Sample Tours: West Coast

Winter Sea to Sky

Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of snow-capped mountains, towering in glory as they reach out to embrace the sparkling expanse of the sea. Transport yourself to a place where the silence of the forest is broken by crunching snow and the occasional cry of a bald eagle. A place where the afternoon sun filters through the trees and warms your face, while your body revels in the exhilaration that is provided only by the most intense outdoor experiences.

Whether you are trekking the mountainside in snowshoes, barrelling alongside glistening fields in a snowmobile, ice-climbing up a frozen waterfall, or conquering one of many mountains on skis or snowboard, truly intrepid spirits will find boundless possibilities for adventure in Sea to Sky Country.

Duration:   5-7 Days
Total Distance: 618 km/389 mi


Winter Sea to Sky Route Map - Small   view larger map
Itinerary
Britannia Mine Museum - Photo Credit: Britannia Mine Museum
Day 1 - Vancouver to Squamish - 90 km/57 mi
Your first day will take you from our Vancouver RV Experience location to Squamish, travelling along Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Highway.  The UK’s Guardian newspaper called this drive one of the “Top 5 Roadtrips in the World”.full details

Pick up your RV from our Vancouver location then head high above the city!  Just 30 minutes from Vancouver lies one of three local winter destinations.  If you’ve never experienced snow or just can’t get enough, visit the Snow Tubing Park at Cypress Mountain.  Feel the thrill of sliding down chutes in a snow tube and let the tube tow do all the work to get you back to the top.  If tubing doesn’t appeal, how about some snowshoeing?

Even closer to Vancouver, on the North shore, you’ll find Grouse Mountain where their Super Skyride whisks you to the best in local skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and ice skating.  With 26 runs, the latest in lift technology and the most extensive snowmaking system around, Grouse Mountain is Vancouver’s favourite winter playground.  All this is just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver.

After some enjoyment on the slopes head north on Highway 99 to Britannia Beach, stopping at the Britannia Mine Museum where you can travel back through time in a unique British Columbia copper mine.  A train ride through the mine, along with interpretive guides and hands-on activities bring history alive on an underground adventure suitable for all the family.  Allow approx. 1.5 hours here before continuing on to Shannon Falls.

Shannon Falls is 6 times higher than Niagara with a 335 metre (1099 feet) drop.  Short trails lead to several excellent views of the falls from the parking lot in Shannon Falls Provincial Park.  After visiting Shannon Falls, be sure to stop at the Sea to Sky Gondola, one of the newest attractions in the area. Glide above the town of Squamish as you enjoy incredible views of Howe Sound, Squamish Chief Mountain and Shannon Falls. Take advantage of the on-site cafe, children's play area and retail shopping before you climb aboard your 8-person gondola for the 10 minute ride to the top.  From Squamish, it's only a short drive to Wonderland Valley Resort where we suggest you spend the night.

CanaDream Club Partners on today's itinerary are:

Grouse Mountain
Britannia Mine Museum
Wonderland Valley Resort
Canadian Outback Rafting
Bald Eagle - Stock Photo
Day 2 - Squamish to Whistler - 60 km/38 mi
Stop this morning in Brackendale before continuing north.  Between mid-November and mid-February, thousands of bald eagles gather on the banks or rivers throughout the region to feed on the large numbers of spawning salmon.  Awe inspiring to watch, viewers can get up close and personal with these majestic birds by booking a float trip down the river with Sunwolf Adventure Centre, or watch from a distance at the Brackendale Eagle Reserve.   full details

Peak viewing is from mid-December to mid-January.  Eagle viewing is best enjoyed by the public from areas outside the park boundaries. The main "Eagle Run" viewing facility is located on the municipal dyke, across from the Easter Seal Camp on Government Road in Brackendale. Exit Highway 99 at Mamquam Road and head north on Government Road to the viewing area. An interpretive display explains the eagles and salmon life cycle.

Eagle Watch is a volunteer community-based interpretive program offered to help visitors at the Eagle Run viewing area to understand the eagles and salmon life cycle, and to get a close-up view through telescopes. Interpreters are on the dyke each weekend until early February.

Continue north on Highway 99.  Approx 20km before Whistler, look out for the turn-off to Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.  The spectacular 70 metre waterfall for which the park is named is best seen from the viewpoint which also presents some marvelous views of Daisy Lake and the surrounding mountains.  There is a day use area with picnic tables and pit toilets.  The park trails provide good beginner showshoe opportunities.

You should arrive in Whistler around mid-day.  This will give you plenty of time to plan your activities for the next 3 days.  A genuine winter wonderland, Whistler offers endless ways to enjoy the great outdoors.  From recognized winter activities to zip-lining and bungee jumping – it’s all right here.

There's a CanaDream Club partner campground 18km south of Whistler which is open year round and you may like to consider staying there.  Whistler RV Park and Campground is a fairly new campground with fabulous view of Black Tusk and the surrounding mountains.  All sites include a picnic table, fire ring and cable hookup.  There's also a CanaDream Club partner campground in the township of Whistler.  Riverside Resort  is spread over 40 acres of lawns, forest and green-space and offers year-round camping.

Overnight in Whistler.

CanaDream Club partners on today's itinerary are:

Sunwolf Rafting
Whistler RV Park and Campground
Riverside Resort

Whistler Peak to Peak - Stock Photo
Day 3 - Whistler
Whistler’s Peak to Peak gondola is one of the “must-do” attractions at any time of the year in Whistler.  The gondola links Whistler Mountain’s Roundhouse Lodge with Blackcomb Mountain’s Rendezvous Restaurant and holds the world record for the longest free span between top towers at just over 3km.   full details

Facts aside, the trip between the two mountains offers spectacular views of the township of Whistler and the areas beyond.  For a bigger thrill, ride one of the ‘grey’ cars which have glass bottoms.  If ziplining is something you've always wanted to try, Ziptrek Ecotours are open year-round and offer four different ziplining tours close to the Whistler downtown area.  Call into their ticket office inside Garbanzo Bike & Bean and show them your CanaDream key tag to receive a discount.

This afternoon we suggest taking a 3 hour Dogsled trip into the magnificent old growth forest of the Callaghan Valley with Canadian Wilderness Adventures.  Discounted rates are available when booked through CanaDream.   Canadian Wilderness Adventures also offer snowshoeing and snowmobile tours.

Overnight in Whistler 

CanaDream Club partners on today's itinerary are:

Canadian Wilderness Adventures 
Ziptrek Ecotours 
Riverside RV Resort
Whistler RV Park 

Inukshuk overlooking Whistler - Stock Photo
Day 4 - Whistler
Spend another day enjoying everything Whistler has to offer.  How about some outdoor ice skating at Green Lake?  Skate rentals are available.  Skate for as long as your legs will carry you under the watchful eye of the magnificent mountains on Green Lake – an experience like no other. full details

If an indoor activity is more to your taste, we suggest you visit the Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre.  During winter months, this centre is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00am to 5.00pm and showcases the art and heritage of the Squamish and Lil'wat Aboriginal people.  Learn the meaning behind traditional regalia, legends, carvings, art, songs and ceremonies.  Show them your CanaDream key tag to receive a discount off your admission.

Tonight you may like to consider a mountain top fondue dinner at Crystal Hut, perched atop Blackcomb Mountain at 6000ft.  Chefs will treat you to a local interpretation of a traditional candle-lit fondue dinner accompanied by fine wine and followed by fresh baked fruit pie served hot from a wood fired oven.  For the adventurous you can drive yourself there in your own state of the art snowmobile or, for a more comfortable ride, you can ride in a heated luxury 19 passenger Snowcat.  This tour is also operated by Canadian Wilderness Adventures and discounts are available when booked through CanaDream.

Overnight in Whistler 

CanaDream Club partners on today's itinerary are:

Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre
Canadian Wilderness Adventures
Ziptrek Ecotours
Riverside RV Resort
Whistler RV Park

Gentian Peak near Lillooet, BC - Stock Photo
Day 5 - Whistler to Lillooet (or back to Vancouver) - 130 km/82 mi
Today you can choose to return to Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway or continue on to Pemberton and Lillooet to complete the circle route back to Vancouver.  The rest of this tour route assumes you are continuing on to Pemberton. full details

Just 20 minutes north of Whistler and 5 minutes from the Pemberton Town Centre is Nairn Falls Provincial Park.  While the park gate is closed between October 1st and mid-May, it’s possible to walk-in from the road and follow the 1.5km hiking trail that will take you to the Falls viewpoint. 

The Pemberton Valley is threaded with rivers and steep walled alpine valleys punctuated with glacier fed lakes. Hidden in the hills are many natural hot springs, some popular and some kept secret. Be sure to ask locals for the best place to go and soak.  While in Pemberton, check to see if the Pemberton Distillery is offering Tasting and Tours that day.  These offer a fascinating insight into the handcrafted production of artisan spirits.

From Pemberton, the highway becomes the Duffy Lake Road (Highway 99) and winds through the most spectacular of the Coast Mountain peaks. At the start you will enter the Mount Currie Indian Reserve of the Lil'wat group of Stl'atl'lmx Nation. While travelling through the mountains along the Duffy Lake Road you will leave the wet coastal forests and abruptly enter the rain shadow of British Columbia's interior. Hardy pine trees and sagebrush replace the towering fir trees and green foliage of the west coast.  You can expect to encounter snow during winter months but the road is ploughed regularly.

The town of Lillooet dates back to the Cariboo Gold Rush. Lillooet was mile 0, the start of the old Cariboo Wagon Trail that joined with the Gold Rush Trail south at Lytton (along Highway 12). The sights are reminiscent of the frontier days - the Hangman's Tree, Old Newspaper office, and Chinese Rock Tailings are a throwback to a time long before the Duffy Lake Road was open to tourists. Lillooet Museum is well worth a visit to explore native and gold rush history.

Overnight in the Lillooet Area.  There may be no campgrounds open so ask advice from locals as to the best place to park.

Hells Gate Airtram, BC - Stock Photo
Day 6 - Lillooet to Vancouver - 338 km/212 mi
Today you travel south on highway 12.  This highway takes you into a high mountain region that records some of the hottest summer temperatures in Canada.  It is here that the Coastal Mountain range meets a semi arid desert created by the rain shadow of the mountains. Just east of Lytton is the Stein Valley Heritage Park, the last major, biologically complete unlogged valley in British Columbia.  full details

The park contains 14 ecological zones and offers the visitor an opportunity to visit all of the zones.  This is a walk in wilderness park with no vehicles allowed.  Due to the low snow levels in the park during winter, it may be possible to hike some trails with care.

At the junction of Highway 99 and 97, is Historic Hat Creek Ranch which is open for visitors between May and September only.  Turn south towards Cache Creek.  Known for its old west ambience, the town was a stopover for travellers on the arduous Gold Rush Trail. The trail is now a major highway, but signs along its length commemorate the pioneers and gold seekers who trekked it when it was no more than a trail etched into the steep canyon walls.  There's a CanaDream Club campground here should you decide to spend a little more time in this area.  Brookside Campsite offers sites with power only between mid-October and the end of March in an area surrounded by nature. 

Follow Highway 1 and the Thompson River south and stop where the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway hammered in its last spike at Basque, near Ashcroft. As you drive, notice the terrain and think of the challenge that faced railway engineers and labourers. While heading south on Highway 1 the canyons grow steeper and narrower, making the accomplishment even more amazing.

At the town of Lytton, the Thompson and Fraser Rivers meet at a spectacular confluence. Venture to the water's edge and watch the fine line that emerges as the azure waters of the Thompson merge with the muddy Fraser.

Highway 1 is carved into the cliffs of the Fraser Canyon following the river as it rushes between the rocky walls and past Hell's Gate, the narrowest point on the whole Fraser. During the summer months, an air tram descends into the gorge and brings visitors close to the raging white water torrent. An international village has shops, restaurants, and an historical education centre.

At Yale, the canyon opens up and the Fraser River spills out into the Fraser Valley. The raging white water becomes a slow, meandering waterway carrying log booms, barges and tugboats. The Yale Museum provides the background on the significance of this location as the start of the Gold Rush Trail.

Further on is Hope, where the traveler can head east to Vancouver along either Highway 1 or Highway 7. Hope is at the foot of the Cascade Mountains and is known as the Chainsaw Carving Capital of Canada. Giant wooden chain-sawed sculptures are placed throughout the town, depicting wildlife and the surrounding area.

The route along Highway 7 north of the Fraser River is very scenic and includes a short 8 kilometre jog to the resort village of Harrison Hot Springs, one of British Columbia's finest resort communities. Since its inception, Harrison Hot Springs has grown in class and reputation, and is now considered a world-class vacation destination. The town's two mineral hot springs beckon tourists, inviting them to relax while taking in the stunning scenery. The string of inspiring mountains cradle a majestic 60 kilometre stretch of lake.

Further along  Highway 7 is Mission and the site of the original 9,000-year-old Sto:lo settlement the Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre. Westminster Abbey in Mission welcomes visitors to attend liturgies, roam the 80-hectare abbey farm and watch life in the seminary campus. Looking out from the hill is a view of the Fraser River and its valley unfolding below.

As you leave Mission towards the city of Vancouver you travel through the  fields and dairy farms of the lower Fraser Valley. Communities to explore along Highway 7 include Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam, Port Moody, and Anmore. The Pitt Wildlife Management Area is home to North America's largest freshwater tidal lake, Pitt Lake - excellent for bird watching, including sandhill cranes, eagles, and trumpeter swans at various times of the year.

Overnight in Vancouver.  We have four partner campgrounds here to choose from before returning your vehicle back to our location in Delta tomorrow.

 

Vancouver Skyline
Day 7 - Drop off RV in Vancouver

Today marks the end of your Winter Sea to Sky adventure.  Unless you have arranged a later drop-off, your vehicle should be returned to our Vancouver location before 10:00.

full details

If you are planning to stay longer in Vancouver, ask our friendly staff for ideas about things to do in the city.  We offer a free shuttle service to Vancouver airport and to airport and airport hotels.  If you need to go downtown, we can arrange a taxi for you (your cost) or drop you back at the Templeton Skytrain station so you can catch a train downtown.

We can also book a downtown or airport hotel for you at a discounted rate.  Ask for details.

If you enjoyed this tour itinerary, please check out the other tours on our website.  We look forward to welcoming you back as a CanaDream guest in the future.

Alta Lake, Whistler in Winter - Stock Photo
Acknowledgements
CanaDream wishes to thank Vancouver Coast and Mountains and Hello BC for their permission to reproduce parts of this itinerary. full details
Hello BC has a number of other interesting tour ideas in its Circle Routes brochure available from Tourism BC information centres.



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