Porteau Cove Provincial Marine Park
is a beautiful little stop on the way to or from Whistler. You will notice the lack of washroom stops on the way to or from Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway, and if nothing else, this makes Porteau Cove a perfect rest stop. Aside from washrooms there is a wonderful pier with viewing platforms that hover high above the ocean of this majestic and enormous Canadian fjord - the most southerly fjord in North America. There is a nice campground that extends down the shore towards Vancouver.
Porteau Cove is well known in the Scuba Diving community for amazing diving. In fact a ship was purposely sunk in the area to increase the already amazing diving appeal. Other underwater curiosities make this a well used and beautiful place to dive. On any given day, you will see groups of scuba divers in the distance or getting in or out of the water.
The scuba diver entry area by the boat ramp has a nice description of what is under the water that makes it such a fascinating place to dive. One the pier you will find an interpretive tour of sorts as their are descriptions, every few metres along the railings of what you may see from the pier viewpoints.
Much like Lighthouse Park, you can visit Porteau Cove during any type of weather and be glad you stopped. The views are sensational and the enormous pier takes you right out, far above the ocean. Porteau Cove is very easy to find. Just keep your eye out for the highway sign directing you to the turnoff. If driving from Vancouver the Porteau Cove turnoff is 41 kilometres from Vancouver if you zero your odometer on the Lions Gate Bridge. If driving from Whistler, zero your odometer as you leave the Village at Village Gate Blvd and you will see Porteau Cove at 77 kilometres.
When you turn in from the highway you will see a parking lot on your left with the washrooms and another huge parking area next to the wonderful Porteau Cove Pier. This pier is quite large and has great views of the fjord. There is a nice beach and campground if you continue along the road just past the pier. Lots of picnic tables and a great place to stop for lunch on the way to or from Whistler.
More Whistler Driving Destinations
Northair Mine is a surreal little world of colourful murals on abandoned cement foundations, surrounded by an astoundingly tranquil little lake in a secluded forest. Just a short logging road off of the Callaghan Valley Road takes you to this unusual little abandoned mine. You would have driven by the turnoff if you have been to Whistler Olympic Park, which is just a couple kilometres away. Northair Mine gets its name from the Vancouver based mining company Northair Group. The mine was in production from 1976 and extracted 5 tons of gold before being abandoned in 1982. Northair Mine is tricky to find and even when you near it, the turnoff is not obvious. However, once you find it, it is quite a sight. The area that encompasses Northair Mine is huge. About 2 kilometres long, edged by a cliff on one side and a beautiful lake on the other. A nice, smooth gravel road runs through the area, along the edge of the lake toward Whistler Olympic Park. Another gravel road runs through the massive cement foundations of what must have been quite a large building. Beautiful graffiti art covers some of the cement pilings and scattered remnants indicate that this skeleton of a building has been home to its share of gatherings since being abandoned. North Arm Farm in Pemberton, just a 40 minute drive north of Whistler is startlingly beautiful in a wonderfully charming and unexpected way. And even more unexpectedly... it's free. Free to wander through the fields of strikingly colourful and organized crops laying seemingly at the foot of the wildly spectacular Mount Currie. Along with the beautiful setting and views there is an area surrounded by animals. Chickens, pigs and geese crowd around you hoping for scraps from the farm shop. The Farm Shop and Cafe are fantastic as well. A surprising variety of bakery and lunch items crowd the counters. Along with shelves and bins of farm fresh produce. You suddenly realize that you just came through what could be called Pemberton Farm Experience. All for free, except of course for all the amazing food you are inevitably going buy before leaving. North Arm Farm stretches over 60 acres along the Lillooet River and boasts a wide array of organically grown produce. From asparagus in April, to beans, peas, corn, squash, carrots, beets and their celebrated pumpkins in October. They even have seasonal You Pick berries, flowers and pumpkins. Skookumchuck Hot Springs, open year-round and located two hours north of Whistler along the edge of the huge Lillooet River.The name Skookumchuck means "strong water" in the language of the Chinook people of the Pacific Northwest. The name is associated with the hot springs because of the nearby First Nation community of Skatin, which was once called Skookumchuck. The Skookumchuck Hot Springs were also once known as St. Agnes Well during the days of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, but that name has fallen into disuse. They are also known locally by the Skatin name as the T'sek Hot Springs. See a short history of Skookumchuck Hot Springs here. The hot springs start in a pool which is far to hot to use so there are a network of tubes emanating from this pool to feed a ramshackle array of tubs. There are five tubs, which include one very large one under an A-frame which could hold 10 people and is beautifully comfortable... Sloquet Hot Springs is a wonderfully wild set of shallow, man-made pools fed by a small, all natural, and very hot, waterfall. The pools stretch from the waterfall to the large and crashing Sloquet River. The large, spread out campsite for the hot springs lies a short 5 minute walk from the springs. You have to follow a dark and quickly descending trail toward the crashing river. As you near, you can smell the unusual, but kind of nice hot springs scent, and you see steam rising all around you, some steam rising, bizarrely, out of the grass clearing on the edge of the river. On your left a rising cliff, on your right the crashing river. The path narrows and steepens, leading to a large fallen tree which the trail seems to run to. So huge though as to not worry you walking the length of. Then, there it is. The massive fallen tree flanks it. Nestled between the tree and a cliff, in a large triangular area, with the river forming the third side are the Sloquet Hot Springs. Sloquet Hot Springs is 142 kilometres from Whistler, which translates to well over 3 hours of driving. Much of the driving is along the In-Shuck-Ch Forest Service Road, which runs the length of the very scenic Lillooet Lake and river. This gravel road takes you well into the wilderness, far from civilization and past quite a few nice sights along the way. Rainbow Park is one of Whistler's most popular swimming, relaxing, soccer playing and socializing beaches and for good reason. The beach is south facing so every morning the sun rises from behind Wedge Mountain and the whole park seems to glow. From the dazzling reflecting from the snow off of Wedge, Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, to the amazing blue glow from Alta Lake. All this framed in the dazzling green of the forest all around. Though there are many great places to watch the sun rise in Whistler, Rainbow Park is one of the best. Rainbow Park gets its name from Rainbow Lodge, a popular stop along the train line from 1914 to 1974. Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the 2010 Olympic events were held. There is a nice viewing platform on the edge of the cliff across from the falls which crash fantastically into the valley below. The parking area and viewing platform at Alexander Falls is one big area just 40 metres from the main road (to Whistler Olympic Park). The adventurous can find the obscure trail that leads to both the top of the falls as well as, with great difficulty, to the base of the falls. For a unique and breathtaking spot to share a beer on the outskirts of Whistler, Alexander Falls surely ranks quite high. Of impressive waterfalls in the Whistler area, Alexander Falls is one of several spectacular ones. Others in the area include the amazing Brandywine Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Nairn Falls.