Pemberton, British Columbia – a Fun Diversion from Whistler
What to do once you have explored Whistler Village and the weather is looking better to the north – follow the sunshine. This decision was made by three of us on a girls’ weekend in July, so we hopped in the car, headed north on Hwy 99, the Sea to Sky Highway, to explore the Village of Pemberton. This is just a 30-minute scenic drive through mountain wilderness, 27 miles (35 km) north of Whistler.
As you arrive in Pemberton, the Visitor Centre is located on Hwy 99 opposite Petro Canada or McDonald’s, http://www.tourismpembertonbc.com/visitor-centre/map/. We followed signage to the town centre and found ample parking on the street. It was a pleasant stroll through the various stores and the shop assistants were friendly, helpful and a great source of information on local activities, restaurants and coffee shops to go to in the area.
With recommendations in hand, we got back in the car heading north on Hwy 99 to Airport Road, following signs to Big Sky Golf & Country Club, http://www.bigskygolf.ca.
This course features a handsome clubhouse with full service restaurant, including attractive patio with beautiful views of Mt. Currie and the golf course. The food is excellent and the staff very friendly and accommodating. On the day we went, Saturday, the drink of the day was a rose sangria which was very refreshing and hit the spot along with a delicious platter of local meats.
The entrance to the golf course is very unique, with both sides of the drive displaying all shapes and sizes of animals made from old car, lawn and gardening equipment parts. Someone had a great imagination and talent.
After leaving the golf course our next stop was north on Hwy 99 to the Pemberton Business Park where we followed signs to the Pemberton Distillery www.pembertondistillery.ca. This is a British Columbia Certified Organic Distillery which produces award-winning organic whiskey, vodka, gin, absinthe, brandy, schnapps and liqueurs. Their vodka is the only organic potato vodka in the world. A tasting room is available to sample and purchase product. Tours are also available by appointment year-round. It is definitely worth a visit.
It was then time to start heading back towards Whistler, but on the way we stopped off at North Arm Farm, http://northarmfarm.com. This is a 60-acre working farm using organic practices. It is open to the public daily during the growing season and offers farm lunches, picnics and catering services for weddings and corporate events. A wedding was taking place while we were there. The season is from April to October with options to pick berries.
Our last stop was Nairn Falls Provincial Park, located 5 minutes from Pemberton, off Hwy 99. This was a trip down memory lane for me, as the last time I did this hike was in 1974 when I was younger, fitter and slimmer! The day use parking area is easily accessible and can also accommodate large RVs. From the parking lot it is easy access to the trail head to the falls. Allow at least 60-90 minutes to do this hike, it’s a 3 km round trip, moderately easy and well-worth it. You will be rewarded with stunning views of the upper and lower falls as the water thunders through the narrow gaps in the rocks. Children must be watched closely, dogs are welcome but must be kept on leash. Appropriate footwear and proper hiking attire is a must.
The trail follows alongside the river, is narrow in places as you hike along steep banks, drop-offs, and be careful stepping over tree trunk roots. When you reach a large rocky area, walk to the top where you will find the first viewing platform for Nairn Falls. After, make your way down towards the chain link fence, go through the opening for views of the lower falls. Slowly head back to the trail and the parking area.
There is also a campground available at Nairn Falls that offers 94 campsites, picnic site and pit toilets. Firewood is available for sale. This campground offers the warmest and driest climate of the entire Sea to Sky area and offers many hiking trails. To make reservations go to www.discovercamping.ca.
Also keep a look out for birds, squirrels, raccoons and ravens. This park is also home to the rubber boa, which is the smallest of the boa constrictor family with an average length of 45 cm (18”). Its nocturnal habits make this shy snake rarely seen.
After rounding off our adventure to the Pemberton area, it was time to travel back to Whistler, and as we got closer the sunny skies followed us.
Published: July 28th, 2016
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