Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver

(Alex Strohl photo)

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains

Regional Geography

The Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region expands outwards from the city of Vancouver along three main arteries: the Sunshine Coast, the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, as well as the Fraser Valley and Canyon.

While the city of Vancouver enjoys a population of approximately 600,000, Metro Vancouver – spread out along the banks of the lower Fraser River – boasts a population of nearly two million. The Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region accounts for just four per cent of BC's total land mass, but 60% of its population.

The Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast – just northwest of Vancouver and accessible only by air or ferry then road – is famous for its provincial marine parks and inviting saltwater inlets. As a point of interest, the Sunshine Coast is home to one of the largest per-capita populations of artists in the country.

Sea to Sky Country

The Sea-to-Sky Highway serves as the gateway to the Coast Mountains and ranks as one of the world's most scenic drives, taking you through five distinct biogeoclimatic zones. Following the spectacular Howe Sound shoreline, sections of the highway between coastal rainforest at Horseshoe Bay and Squamish are cut out of a cliff. Continuing north is the glaciated landscape of Garibaldi Provincial Park. The crown jewel of the area, the resort town of Whistler, sits in all its glory beneath the twin peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, before the mountains open up again to reveal the alpine meadows of Pemberton.

The Fraser Valley

The Trans-Canada Highway east out of Vancouver takes travellers into the wide, fertile Fraser Valley that sits between the Coast and Cascade mountains, parallel with the Canada-United States border. Stands and farms selling fresh produce dot the area of rolling farmlands and historic villages.

North of the town of Hope, the highway follows the rushing Fraser River upstream through the Fraser Canyon. Here, visitors can see the sharp transition from coastal rainforests to the sagebrush and yellow grasses of the province's dry interior.

Regardless of where you travel through the region, its natural splendours – alpine meadows, waterfalls, forest, wildlife, wide-open valleys, salty ocean air and the most staggering mountain ranges – are sure to impress.