A Brief History of the Sea-to-Sky Highway
The Sea-to-Sky Highway is a popular tourist route offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, Coast Mountains, and temperate rainforests of British Columbia. It's also an important transportation route for the residents of the communities along its way, including Pemberton.
The Sea-to-Sky Highway is the central part of Highway 99 in BC and is touted as one of the most scenic highways in the world!
Before the arrival of European settlers, indigenous people lived on the land for thousands of years, practicing traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering activities. The area of the current Sea-to-Sky Highway was thought to be used as a trading route between the Squamish and Stó:lō Nations.
The first narrow and winding gravel path was built as a mining road in the early 1900s to access the area's rich natural resources, including timber and minerals.
One catalyst of the highway's development was the Britannia Mine which, at the time, was one of the largest copper mines in the world. The mine operated between Vancouver and Squamish from 1904 to 1974 in Britannia Beach.
Today, the mine acts as a museum offering visitors tours of the facility and historical records of the mining operations and town.
Expansion and Upgrades
In the mid-20th century, the highway was upgraded and expanded to improve access to the growing tourist industry in the region.
Surveyors began work in 1949 to find a suitable route along Howe Sound to link existing roads that ended overlooking Horseshoe Bay and Britannia Beach.
In August 1958, the newly created Vancouver–Squamish Highway, officially named the Seaview Highway, was opened to traffic but still contained large sections of gravel roads.
In 1966, the Ministry of Transportation shared an archival video that takes viewers from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish on Highway 99.
At the time, the endpoint of the highway in Squamish was the extent of its reach. However, the picturesque town of Whistler, known for its stunning mountain views, was just starting to take shape. The highway
Whistler Mountain was opened in 1966 as part of a bid for the 1968 Olympics. However, accessing the mountain was limited to a newly built gravel road which had yet to reach Pemberton.
The section of paved road was extended to Pemberton and Mount Currie by 1975. The expansion of the highway made it possible to transport tourists and goods more efficiently.
Rebranding as a Scenic Route & the 2010 Winter Olympics
In the 1990s, the Sea-to-Sky Highway was rebranded as a scenic route. Its beauty and recreational opportunities were promoted to attract tourists.
The highway was upgraded to accommodate the increased traffic, and several scenic overlooks were added to provide stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Officially named in the early 2000s, the "Sea-to-Sky Highway" refers to the trip from stunning coastal scenery in Vancouver & Squamish to the mountainous landscapes of Whistler & Pemberton.
The Sea-to-Sky Highway was in the spotlight during the 2010 Winter Olympics when it transported athletes, officials, and spectators between Vancouver and Whistler. As a result, the highway underwent a $775-million renovation to improve safety and accommodate the increased traffic for the events.
Sea-to-Sky Road Safety
Road safety is a top priority on the Sea-to-Sky Highway in British Columbia. The scenic route is known for its challenging road conditions and beautiful but potentially dangerous landscapes.
The highway runs through rugged mountain terrain along the coast, and inclement weather can make driving conditions difficult.
Drivers must exercise caution, drive defensively, and obey all traffic laws to ensure a safe journey on the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
Staying informed about road conditions can help drivers plan their trip and make adjustments as necessary, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
We recommend checking the latest road conditions to ensure a smooth journey.
Information on road conditions can be found on various websites and sources, such as;
- DriveBC HighwayCams - Highway 99 (Sea-to-Sky Highway)
- DriveBC Events for Highway 99
- Sea-to-Sky Road Conditions Facebook Group
Drivers can also get periodic traffic updates and weather conditions if they listen to Mountain FM.
Book Your Next Trip to Pemberton
Make your next trip to Pemberton an unforgettable experience by staying at the Pemberton Valley Lodge.
Nestled in the heart of the breathtaking Pemberton Valley, our charming lodge offers a peaceful and comfortable retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life. With stunning mountain views and easy access to all the local attractions, the Pemberton Valley Lodge is the perfect choice for your next getaway.
Don't wait, book your stay today and experience the ultimate Pemberton vacation.
Posted: Thursday, February 02, 2023