Coast Mountain Circle Route (Vancouver Round Trip via Lytton, Lillooet & Whistler)
The overall mileage of the Coast Mountain Circle Route is approximately 700 km (435 mi) and takes about 11 hours to drive. With minimal stops, it can be done in 2 days, but we recommend taking 3 – 5 days to explore this spectacular corner of British Columbia. It is often suggested that when driving the Coast Mountain Circle Route that the route be done clockwise (Vancouver – Squamish), but we feel that the reverse routing is more rewarding as the views of Howe Sound when driving south on the Sea to Sky Highway (Hwy 99) are simply breathtaking.
A popular road trip, the Coast Mountain Circle Tour provides travellers with a taste of British Columbia. Travel through the lush farmland of the Fraser Valley and the rocky Fraser Canyon. Immerse yourself in old growth temperate rainforests and marvel at the snow-capped mountain that tower over the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Coast Mountain Circle Tour video.
Section 1: Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs
(Option A) via Highway 7
(Option B) via Highway 1
Directions: Leaving Vancouver, take Trans-Canada Highway 1 and drive west towards Hope & Harrison Hot Springs or take Scenic Highway 7 and drive west.
Estimated Driving Time: 1.5 hours (Option A: 122 km / 76 mi | Option B: 131 km / 81 mi)
Things to Do (Option A):
Westminster Abbey – Atop a hill in Mission with panoramic views of the Fraser Valley, sits Westminster Abbey, home to an order of Benedictine Monks. The grounds are beautiful and the chapel boasts an impressive stained glass display. Visitors are welcome to visit the chapel and explore the grounds on Sundays between 2 and 4 pm, and on weekdays between 1:30 and 4 pm.
River Safari – Stop in Harrison Mills and experience the Mighty Fraser River from the comfort of a jet boat. Enjoy wildlife viewing while learning about the history and culture of the region, and in November be sure to take in an eagle watching tour as the area is home to thousands of wintering bald eagles.
Kilby Historic Site – Step back in time and experience a fascinating look at rural life in BC at the turn of the twentieth century. Complete with a museum, general store, farm and restaurant, Kilby is a great way to learn about the history of the community of Harrison Mills.
Read this blog that includes information on this area:
Three Ways to Welcome Spring in BC’s Fraser Valley
Things to Do (Option B):
Fort Langley National Historic Site – Fort Langley National Historic Site is the exact location where, over a century ago, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a small post to trade with the First Nations of the West Coast. Today you can visit the fort and explore historic buildings, watch blacksmithing demonstrations and even try gold panning.
Read this blog that includes information on this area:
Explore Fort Langley Historic Site & Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History
Bridal Veil Falls – East of Chilliwack, right off the Trans-Canada Highway, is where you’ll find Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park. Open from April to October, visitors can enjoy picnicking, hiking and spectacular views of the falls, which tumble 60 metres (197 feet) over a smooth rock face creating the veil-like effect for which they’re aptly named.
Fishing – Hire a guide and cast a line in the Fraser River for the dinosaur of the deep, the White Sturgeon. This protected species is the largest freshwater fish in North America and can weigh up to 454 kg (1,000 lbs) so get ready for a fight!
Section 2: Harrison Hot Springs to Lytton
Directions: From Harrison Hot Springs head south on Agassiz-Rosedale Hwy (BC-9). Turn left on BC-7 E (signs for Agassiz/Hope). Slight left onto BC-7 W, keep right at the fork and follow signs for Trans Canada Highway/BC-1 E to Lytton.
Estimated Driving Time: 1.5 to 2 hours (144 km / 89 mi)
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in and around Lytton go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Lytton BC.
Things to Do:
Harrison Hot Springs – Known for the two hot springs whose healing waters are cooled to 38 degrees C (100 degrees F) and pumped into an indoor public pool for visitors to enjoy, Harrison Hot Springs is a great place to relax and recharge. Take a dip in the lake, go for a boat tour and afterwards wander around the Village and grab a bite to eat.
Tuckkwiowhum Village – Visit Tuckkwiowhum Village, a First Nations heritage site and village, located south of Boston Bar. Take a guided or self-guided tour and experience the village as it was before the arrival of European culture. (seasonal)
Yale Historic Site – Once the largest community north of San Francisco and west of Chicago, Yale was a Gold Rush boomtown. Tour the museum and visit the living history “tent city” and experience what life was like for prospectors and Chinese railway workers. (seasonal)
Hell’s Gate Airtram – Take the tram and get a bird’s eye view of this historic landmark near Boston Bar, where 200 million gallons of water thunder through a 33-metre (108 foot) wide passage every minute. Cross the suspension bridge, check out the salmon exhibit, try some gold panning and grab some lunch before sampling the fudge at the Fudge Factory. (seasonal)
Whitewater Rafting – Lytton, the self-proclaimed ‘Rafting Capital’ of Canada, is home to some of BCs largest rafting rivers. Book a seat on a raft and take a thrilling ride through some of the wildest rapids in the province.
Section 3: Lytton to Lillooet
Directions: Head north on the Lytton-Lillooet Hwy (BC-12 N) and follow the signs for Lillooet.
Estimated Driving Time: 1 – 1.5 hours (62 km / 39 mi)
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in and around Lillooet go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Lillooet BC.
Things to Do:
Seton Lake – Stop at the viewpoint overlooking the picturesque emerald-green waters of Seton Lake Reservoir and the surrounding Chilcotin Range. Near the viewpoint you may be able to see evidence of kekulis, underground winter homes built by the interior Salish-speaking St-at-imc (STAH-tleum) people. A short, self-guided interpretive trail provides history of the Lillooet area.
Hike/Walk – Do “the bridges” in Lillooet. A 10-kilometre (6 mile) loop along the Fraser River that takes in both the historic “old” suspension bridge and the “new” Bridge of the 23 Camels. Constructed in 1913, the old bridge was restored in 2003 and is now pedestrian only. And the views of the rugged canyon and the mighty Fraser River are spectacular.
Section 4: Lillooet – Whistler
Directions: Head east on Seton Lake Road toward BC-99 N. Continue on BC-99 S and follow signs for Pemberton and Whistler.
Estimated Driving Time: 2 hours (129 km/80 mi)
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in and around Pemberton and Whistler area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Pemberton, BC and Whistler BC.
Things to Do:
Hike – With ample opportunities for hiking, camping and mountaineering, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, and its three turquoise lakes, snow-capped peaks and rushing streams, will take your breath away. A beautiful viewpoint at Lower Joffre Lake is just a short walk from the parking lot, but if you’re looking for a little more adventure, follow the trail for a rough, rocky and steep hike through the Coast Mountain Range.
Pemberton Heritage Museum – Tour the three hand-built log homes that house the Pemberton Heritage Museum and discover what life in the Pemberton Valley was like dating back to 1860. Explore artifacts and photographs depicting the history of the area, the arrival of the railway, logging activities and the Pemberton women’s institute.
Village Stroll – Lined with specialty shops and restaurants, the Village Stroll is a pedestrian-only walkway located in Whistler Village. Take some time to shop as you stroll and be sure to snap a photo in front of the Olympic Rings in Whistler Olympic Plaza, which plays host to concerts in the summer and is transformed into an outdoor skating rink in winter.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola – At 3.024 km (1.9 mi) and an elevation of 436 m (1,430 ft), The Peak 2 Peak Gondola broke a world record for the longest unsupported lift span. Board this engineering marvel and take in the amazing 360-degree view of the valley. Feeling daring? Wait for one of two glass-bottom cars.
Adventure – Whistler is an adventure-seekers dream come true. Mountain-biking and hiking trails to suit all abilities criss-cross the Valley and the more adventurous can try zip-lining and bungee jumping. Check out the Via Ferrata course and experience the thrill of rock climbing as you climb Whistler Mountain using metal run ladders and fixed cables.
Section 5: Whistler to Squamish
Directions: From Whistler, continue south on the Sea to Sky Highway (BC-99 S) following signs to Squamish.
Estimated Driving Time: 45 mins – 1 hour (60 km / 37 mi)
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in the Squamish area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Squamish BC.
Things to Do:
Sea to Sky Gondola – A 10-minute gondola ride takes you 885 metres (2,904 feet) above sea level and provides sweeping views of Howe Sound and the surrounding coastal mountains. There are interpretive walking trail loops, three viewing platforms, the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, access to eight main hiking trails and a variety of food & drink options.
West Coast Railway Heritage Park – Home to the world famous Royal Hudson steam engine and over 90 pieces of heritage railway cars and artifacts, the West Coast Railway Heritage Park is a train buff’s dream come true. Designed to resemble a typical 20th century railway facility, the park features a miniature railway, countless pieces of heritage rail equipment and a number of railcars that visitors can tour.
Britannia Mine Museum – Climb aboard a mine train at the Britannia Mine Museum to go deep inside this once functioning large-scale copper mine. Tour guides tell stories of early mining efforts and what life was like in Britannia Beach in the early 1900s.
Section 6: Squamish to Vancouver
Directions: Continue south the Sea to Sky Highway (BC-99 S) which joins up with the Trans Canada Hwy 1 heading into Vancouver.
Estimated Driving Time: 1 hour (70km / 43 mi) from Squamish to the Lions Gate Bridge which connects Vancouver’s North Shore with the City of Vancouver via Stanley Park.
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in the Vancouver area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Vancouver BC. Other communities in Metro Vancouver are also listed. Search under the community name required.
Things to Do:
Capilano Suspension Bridge – At 137 metres (450 feet) across and 70 metres (230 feet) high, the Capilano Suspension Bridge offers amazing views of the Capilano River and surrounding forest. There’s also the Treetops Adventure walk, a network of smaller bridges suspended in the trees and the Cliffwalk – a curved walkway jutting out from a granite wall high above Capilano Canyon.
Dining – The dining scene in Vancouver is a delicious blend of fresh, local ingredients, international flavours and talented chefs. There’s a restaurant experience for everyone, be it fine dining or a grab and go meal from one of the region’s many first-class food trucks.
Published: November 24th, 2016
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