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Whistler, British Columbia, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, is a great place to visit for a day or overnight. It's only 125 km (78 miles) from Vancouver, and the two hour drive along the Sea to Sky highway, significantly improved for the Olympics, is spectacular.
To access the Sea to Sky highway (Highway 99) from downtown Vancouver, take the causeway through Stanley Park and cross the Lions Gate Bridge. When you reach the end of the bridge, get into the left lane and follow the signs to West Vancouver.
You'll cross another bridge over the Capilano River nearly immediately. Get into the right lane because, you'll turn right at the first intersection onto Taylor Way. Taylor Way will take you up to the Upper Level Highway (Highway 1). Get into the left lane and turn left onto the Upper Levels Highway. Highway 1 merges with Highway 99 at Horseshoe Bay, 12 km (7.5 miles) from Taylor Way.
Watch the signs. You want to be in the left lane for Squamish and Whistler. Once you pass this point, you are on Highway 99 and can't lose your way.
You'll follow Howe Sound as you drive north. The views are really breath taking, the ocean, rugged islands, snow covered peaks. Twenty three km (15 miles) beyond Horseshoe Bay is Porteau Cove with an excellent camp ground and a artificial reef very popular with local divers.
If you stop at Porteau Cove, be sure to see the two Olympic Legacy cabins used as an information hub in conjunction with the 2010 Winter Olympics, They were subsequently donated to Porteau Cove Provincial Park and are now available for rent.
Beyond Porteau Cove is Britannia Beach, once a thriving copper mining community and now the site of a fascinating mining museum, Britannia Mining Museum, that is definitely worth a visit. The museum building is structurally beautiful and the story it tells about the history of the mining activity and the two isolated towns that grew up around it is remarkable.
"Being an isolated, close knit community which could only be accessed by boat, life in both of Britannia's towns was never dull. Facilities included libraries, club rooms, billiard rooms, swimming pools, tennis courts and even bowling. A thriving social calendar saw sporting events, theatrical productions, dances, movies and parties held throughout the year." From Wikipedia article about Britannia Beach.
Beyond Britannia Beach, is Murrin Provincial Park withpcinic tables, a small swimming lake (Browning Lake), and a trail that leads to a collection of petroglyphs.
Murrin Provincial Park is followed by Shannon Falls Provincial Park. You really have to stop here. The falls is the third largest in British Columbia and, depending on the time of year, the falls range from excellent to spectacular. Take the trail up to the falls themselves and enjoy the invigorating spray, the sound, the sight of the Falls.
The next significant attraction is Stawamus Provincial Park. You know you've reached the park when you see the artistic pedestrian bridge spanning the highway. The park is most famous for The Chief, a granite dome, purported to be the second largest in the world after Half Dome in Yosemite. The Chief is 702 m (2,303 ft) high and a favourite destination for rock climbers. In the summer you can watch tiny people inch their way up its face.
When you reach Squamish, the highway leaves the coast. Stop at the Lil'wat Cultural Centre, winner of the 2010 National Tourism Award for Cultural Tourism Excellence, for information about the area and the people who have lived in the area from ancient times to the present. The Centre boasta a museum, gallery, special exhibits, store, cafe and theatre.
Squamish is a small but growing community. It's well known not only for its rock climbing but also for mountain biking and river rafting and its eagles. In winter, thousands of eagles spend weeks in Squamish and Brackendale, the town just north of Squamish, feasting on spawing salmon. The well fed eagles look like ornaments sitting on the bare branches of the trees along the river waiting to get hungry again.
Once you leave Brackendale, the settlements end until you reach the outskirts of Whistler. There are access roads to Alice Lake Provincial Park, the Black Tusk access road to Garibaldi lake and then Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
Just before you reach Whistler, there's a right hand turn off to Cheakamus Lake. You can't drive all the way to the lake but you can drive the first 6 km and then hike the remaining flat 8 km to Cheakamus Lake. You've have opportunities to see the Cheakamus river as you hike. Round trip, about 5 hours.
From the Cheakamus Lake turnoff, you are only a few minutes from Whistler.