our journey to Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing is part of the adventure. Located near Gold Bridge, BC the resort is readily accessible by ground or air, yet remote enough to ensure a truly genuine wilderness experience.
From Whistler, B.C. you can opt to fly or drive to Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing. To fly to Tyax, contact Tyax Adventures. Dale Douglas will pick you up in Whistler in his de Havilland Beaver float plane. The 30 minute flight is beautiful and makes for a short trip from Whistler to Tyax Resort. If you choose to drive, you have 3 route options, all beautiful, but some more adventurous than others.
The standard driving route follows Highway 99 north of Whistler, through Pemberton and over the Duffy Lake Road to Lillooet where you turn on to Highway 40 (Carpenter Lake Road) towards Gold Bridge until you see the sign for Tyax (allow 4 hrs 20 mins from Whistler). Well I am referring to this route as the standard route it should be noted that Highway 40 (Carpenter Lake Road) is unpaved and narrow in sections with sharp corners and rocks on the road. Cautious driving is demanded. The slightly more adventurous route detours from the standard route in Pemberton and takes you over the Hurley River Forest Service Road to Gold Bridge and onto Tyax Resort. The "Hurley", as it's known to locals, is a Wilderness Forest Service road that is only accessible during the summer months and it has steep switchbacks and some rough grading. To travel the Hurley River FSR it is recommended that you have a 4WD vehicle (allow 2 hrs 50 mins from Whistler). So, what route is more adventurous than the Hurley you ask? Well, that would be the Highline Route!
Map shows the Hurley FSR Route and The Highline Trail Route from Pemberton to Tyax Lodge
The Highline Route is a 4X4 adventure that rewards the courageous traveler with beautiful vistas and unique glimpses of remote towns. This route detours from the standard route in Mount Currie, 8 km north of Pemberton on Highway 99. From Mount Currie the route follows Portage Road for 38 km to D'Arcy. Now, this is where the trip becomes an adventure. The next section of route is called the Highline Road, a 24 kilometre dirt road from D'Arcy to Seton Portage which is rough, narrow and offers limited options for passing oncoming vehicles. The Highline Road also has huge, unprotected drop offs on the edge of the road. After the Highline Road the route takes you over Mission Pass. Mission Pass, on South Shalalth Road, leads from Seton Portage to Highway 40 (Carpenter Lake Road). Mission Pass is wider and smoother than the Highland Road but does have steep switchbacks to crest the summit of the Pass at 3500 feet. Once down onto Highway 40 the traveler meets back up with the standard route to Tyax Lodge (allow 4 hours 20 mins from Whistler).
Anderson Lake, south end near D'Arcy
Now that you have been sufficiently warned about the risky driving conditions you might face on the Highline Route, I will explain, with photographs of the beautiful views to be had and details of the unique towns you pass, why the more adventurous traveller might enjoy this drive. As mentioned, D'Arcy is the town you pass just before embarking on the Highline Road. D'Arcy is located 46 km north-east of Pemberton at the head of Anderson Lake. D'Arcy was originally established as Port Anderson during the gold rush era of 1858 as a terminus for travelling into the Fraser River Canyon. Port Anderson was part of a river-lake portage called the "Lakes Route" that included taking a boat or steamer along Anderson Lake into Cayoosh Flat (present day Lillooet). Today D'Arcy is both a recreational area and the residential area of the N'Quatqua First Nation. Anderson Lake is a recreational playground for residents of Whistler and Pemberton. It offers boating, wakeboarding, swimming and fishing to locals and tourists alike.
Waterfall on the Highline Road
The Highline Road offers more than just rough driving and steep drop offs, it has expansive views of Anderson Lake and the surrounding mountains. The Highland Road just became a Provincial Highway in 2013 after a ruling in the B.C. Supreme Court. To read about the court's decision click here.
Anderson Lake looking south from the Highline Road
Old Church in Seton Portage
The next town you pass along the drive is Seton Portage. Seton Portage is a small recreational village located between Anderson and Seton Lake. Wikipedia says that "The Portage" was formed about 10,000 years ago when the flank of the Cayoosh Range, which is the south flank of the valley, let go and slid into the middle of what had been a single lake". Seton Portage is also the location of a Historic Provincial Park. The historically significant site commemorates the first railway in British Columbia. There is also on old church in Seton Portage that would have been built in the 1890's by Oblates (individuals affiliated with a Christian religious community, in this case Catholic) that successfully encouraged the Lakes Lillooet Native people to move into "modern" houses in villages organised around a church.
Highline Pub in Seton Portage
Just 6 km east of Seton Portage is Shalalth, a small First Nations community of 400 inhabitants on Seton Lake.
Seton Lake from Shalalth
Mission Page BC
The last section of the Highland route, before meeting up with Highway 40, is Mission Pass. The submitted photo to the right is an aerial view of the pass with Seton Lake in the foreground and Carpenter Lake behind. You can see the number of switchbacks involved in reaching the summit of the pass. Below is a photo of the gorgeous views to be found at the top of the pass.
After Mission pass the route joins up with Highway 40, Carpenter Lake Road. You follow Carpenter Lake, almost to the end, until you see the sign for Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing. Turn right and follow Tyaughton Lake Road for 8 km to Tyax Resort.
So, that concludes our description of the Highline driving Route from Whistler to Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing. Whatever route you choose to take to Tyax you will be rewarded with beautiful views, that is guaranteed. Some routes just require a greater sense of adventure (and a reliable 4WD vehicle) than others! For more detailed directions on how to get to Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing, visit our Getting Here page of the website.
Seton Lake from Mission Pass: photo by Randy Lincks.
Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014