Route: Highway 1 > Highway 99 > BC 97 > BC 24 > Highway 5
Vancouver>Squamish>Whistler>Pemberton>Lilloet>Lone Butte>Interlake>Little Fort>Clearwater
Drive Quality 10/10
Road Quality 9/10 (paved whole way, some minor bumpage/potholes near Lillooet/mostly beautiful, winding 2-lane roads)
Gas Stations: plentiful
Wildlife Spotted: Fox kits, Ferruginous Hawk, Woodchuck
The journey North begins on a high note. If there is a more gorgeous route in the world, I couldn’t name it. The Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Squamish hugs the coast, often creeping along cliff-edges that plunge hundreds of meters down into the ocean below. If you catch a clear day, a cache of small islands covered in mossy green pop up out of the waves in every direction. (Vancouver>Squamish 1 hr)
We rode North to Whistler and then Pemberton; a winding, spacious highway between snow-capped mountains that open up to pass through a wide, emerald-colored valley populated by small farms and quaint cabins. North Arm Farm is a great lunch stop, which offers a small café, sandwiches, and berry picking. (Squamish>Pemberton 1.5 hours)
From here we pressed on to Lillooet, where the mountains become more desert-like, and the air warms considerably. The highway clings to the towering rocks, which turn red and sandy; trees become more sparsely populated, the ground leeched and dry. (Pemberton>Lilloet 1.5 hours)
From Lillooet, the mountains level out for a while, and the route is punctuated by rolling desert farmlands. We opted to take the 97 North, rather than pass through Cache Creek and Kamloops. While Kamloops may offer more services, we found the small towns had all we needed, including plenty of gas stations, Mom and Pop motels, small businesses, diners, pubs, and campgrounds.
Near the end of the day, we drove through Interlake, a gorgeous collection of lakes and small villages, any of which would have been ideal to stop in. We ended our day in Clearwater, staying at a KOA because of the Hop ‘N’ Hog restaurant close by. Fellow travelers: we cannot recommend this place enough. One of us is a vegetarian, one is mostly carnivore, and this place won us both over in equal measure. House-smoked meats (brisket is a favourite) and a to-die for vegetarian platter (curry-fried tomatoes, spicy wilted kale, zesty slaw), as well as a craft beer list and slider-topped Caesars are all on the menu. We could not have asked for a better place to crash. (Lilloet>Cleartwater 3.25 hours, with plenty of options to stop in between for gas, snacks, or scenic lookouts).