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The Sea to Sky Highway: A brief history of one of the most stunning views in the world!

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The Sea to Sky Highway: A brief history of one of the most stunning views in the world!

History of the Sea to Sky Highway

The Sea to Sky Highway, officially known as Highway 99, is an incredibly scenic route in British Columbia, Canada, stretching from Vancouver to Pemberton. This highway is renowned for its stunning views of mountains, forests, and the Pacific Ocean. 

Early Beginnings

Before the highway was built, the area was inhabited by Indigenous peoples, including the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations. Their traditional routes and trails formed the early travel paths in the region.

In the early 20th century, logging roads were constructed to access the forests between Vancouver and Squamish. These rough roads laid the groundwork for the future highway.

Construction and Development

The first significant construction of the highway began in the 1950s. It was built in sections, starting with the portion between Horseshoe Bay and Squamish, and later extending to Whistler and Pemberton.

The section from Vancouver to Squamish was officially opened in 1958, marking the beginning of the highway as a major route.

By 1966, the highway had been extended to Whistler, a growing ski resort town. This expansion significantly boosted tourism and development in the area.

Upgrades and Modernization

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the highway underwent several upgrades to improve safety and accommodate increasing traffic. These improvements included widening lanes, adding guardrails, and resurfacing the road.

In preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, the Sea to Sky Highway underwent a major $600 million upgrade. This project included extensive widening, straightening, and realignment to improve safety and traffic flow. The work started in 2003 and upgrades were completed in 2009.

Present Day

Scenic Byway: today, the Sea to Sky Highway is known as one of the most beautiful drives in the world, attracting tourists from around the globe. Key attractions along the route include Shannon Falls, Stawamus Chief, Garibaldi Provincial Park, and the town of Whistler.

Skiing at Whistler: https://www.whistler.com/skiing


The highway continues to play a crucial role in the economic development of the region, supporting tourism, transportation, and local communities. 

Cultural and Environmental Considerations

The highway traverses the traditional lands of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw) and Lil'wat Nations, and efforts have been made to respect and acknowledge their indigenous heritage.

The construction and expansion of the highway have raised environmental concerns, particularly regarding its impact on local wildlife and ecosystems. Ongoing efforts are made to mitigate these effects.

Check out:


Squamish-Lillooet Regional District: https://www.slrd.bc.ca

Squamish Nation: https://www.squamish.net/


The Sea to Sky Highway's history reflects its transformation from footpath to rugged logging road to a world-renowned scenic route, enhancing accessibility to the gorgeous mountains of British Columbia and all they have to offer.

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