Pemberton: Reasons it’s a must-visit town for every BC vacation


feature image courtesy of Sea To Sky Air

It's difficult to put into words why this sweet mountain town has such a special place in the hearts of so many; from locals to first-time visitors and everyone in between.

That is because it’s charm comes not only from all the things to do in Pemberton (of which there are plenty), but also from the people, families, local businesses and the picturesque landscape combined. The feeling you get as you approach the town, particularly travelling along Highway 99 from Whistler to Pemberton, is that of a slower pace of life set to the beat of nature. Making Pemberton a favourite weekend or day-trip get away destination to escape the hustle and bustle of our modern lives.

As you enter the Pemberton Meadows, and pass through downtown and the region’s famously quaint farmland, you subconsciously find yourself reclining back into your seat and reminiscing on childhood memories.

In fact, that might be our favourite thing about Pemberton. From warm summer days eating ice cream as it melted in the sun and dripped off the end of the cone; to cooling off our feet in the river after a day of berry picking (and eating), or running through tall grasses in search of adventure; the entire town is a combination of all of our favourite childhood memories all in one place.  

You really do need to experience it for yourself. It’s for this reasons that, when you are jotting down your BC vacation ideas, you would be crazy not to include Pemberton, BC on that list!  

Mount Currie, Pemberton

Undeniably, Pemberton’s most recognizable feature is that of the incredible peaks of Mount Currie, sitting majestically over the valley.

It's impossible to feel anything but awe when you peer up at that view, and it has a 199% success rate of turning any frown absolutely upside down.

First, a little history lesson

Thousands of years before European settlers arrived in the early 1880’s, the Pemberton Valley was occupied by the St’at’imc or Stl’atl’imx people of Lil’wat First Nation.  The indigenous Interior Salish tribe situated themselves at the foot of the iconic Mount Currie and head of Lillooet Lake (where today’s village of Mount Currie exists).

“The Lil̓wat7úl have called their territory home since time immemorial. Líl̓wat artifacts dating back to 3,500 BC have been found from the Stein Valley to Bishop-Bridge and all the lands in between. For millennia, the people enjoyed an economy based on trade between other First Nations.

The first contact the Lil̓wat7úl had with Europeans was in 1793 when Alexander Mackenzie made his overland journey to the Pacific Ocean. Over the next two centuries traders, miners and settlers arrived in Líl̓wat Traditional Territory. As the colony of British Columbia prospered, the Lil̓wat7úl, like other First people, were systematically stripped of lands, rights and resources. Eventually, the people were restricted to 10 tiny reserves totally 2,930 ha or 0.4 per cent of Líl̓wat Traditional Territory.” -

In the 1850’s, Pemberton, BC was named after the surveyor for Hudson’s Bay Company and Surveyor-General for the Colony of Vancouver Island, Joseph Despard Pemberton. He never actually visited the place that bears his name.

After the introduction of railway travel, the first passenger train arrived in Pemberton in 1914, bringing more families to settle in the valley. In fact, until the early 1960’s and the construction of Highway 99 which connects Pemberton to Whistler, the village could only be accessed by train. It's crazy to think about a time when that highway was not there to facilitate so many of today’s journeys along the Sea to Sky Corridor. Since then, the population has grown from 200 to approximately 2,500 and growing.

In the 1800’s Pemberton, BC, served as a port on the gold rush trail, however, once its undeniable asset – the richness of its land – was discovered, more and more families decided to choose it over the dwindling search for gold.  

Pemberton’s prized crop is the seed potato and some consider Pemberton to be the “Seed Potato Capital of North America”. Although we can’t necessarily verify this claim, we can absolutely attest to the high quality and downright deliciousness of Pemberton Potatoes.  We highly recommend getting your plateful of these gems during your visit!

Pemberton, BC Arts & Culture

As well as being an unassuming mecca for adventure and wilderness tours, this town also has a genuine sense of community. First and foremost, the impression that it leaves upon its visitors is one of friendliness and family values, and of it being a small town full of big hearts.

You will be enamoured by its rustic charm and the way it seems to pause, or at least slowdown, time.

In addition to its ranching and farming roots, the community is also full of local artistic and creative talent inspired by the landscape and people around them. So much so, that in 2006 the Pemberton Arts Council was formed by 45 artists with a mandate to “create an environment for the advancement of the arts in our community”.

A town with a rich history, it is worthwhile stopping by the Pemberton Museum to observe some of the artefacts collected over time “connected to the human history of the Pemberton District”, and to take advantage of a unique opportunity to see historical homes dating back to the 19th century.

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The climate & weather in Pemberton

Generally between 3-10 degrees celsius warmer than Whistler, Pemberton, BC is very warm and dry in the summer and mild and wet in the winter.

According to the Pemberton Chamber, the lowest average temperature in winter is -11 degrees celsius and the highest average in summer is 32 degrees celsius.

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Things to do in Pemberton in the Summer

We have made a list of our go-to activities in this beautiful town (you'll realize that one day is never enough):

1. Eat and drink (yes, it's an activity)

Even if you went to the exact same eatery every time you visited, your culinary desires would be met and then some. That said, if you didn’t explore all of Pemberton’s mouthwatering delights – your taste buds would be really upset with you. They have a sixth sense about these things. From burger joints to distilleries Pemberton has something for everyone.

2. Biking

You know how Whistler is renowned for its biking? Yeah, well their residents travel to Pemberton for the biking trails. So, you know it's something special. Who knows if it’s due to fewer crowds, technical trails, the unique mountain vistas or the tasty burgers and beers at the end? Seems like a good idea to find out.  

3. Hiking

We’re not telling you any secrets when we say ‘hey, you know what – British Columbia has some sweet hikes’. It’s a no brainer, and Pemberton has its fair share. There are plenty of little to well-known hikes all the way from Whistler to Pemberton. Though the epic full day hikes are the most popular, sometimes it doesn’t get much better than going for a dog walk around One Mile Lake.

4. Berry picking

When the warmer weather rolls around, it is such a treat to take things (being fruit ready for the picking) into your own hands. From around mid-May to October get your fill of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries!

5. Horseback riding, of course

Pemberton is horse country, and has actual hitching posts all around town to tie up your horse. You will find 30 miles of free trails in the Pemberton valley for horseback riding and a slew of other activities.

Now you’ve read all about it you have to come visit, and we hope to see you soon!