Squamish, British Columbia, is a short 45 minute drive from Vancouver. Driving down the spectacular Sea-to-Sky highway, it is easy to understand why the journey itself has been heralded as one of the most beautiful drives in the world. A mecca for hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and climbing, Squamish is considered to be the outdoor capital of Canada.
On our way to Whistler, BC, we decided to stop off in Squamish to ride the Sea-to-Sky Gondola and explore the summit. The 10 minute ride transports passengers 885 meters above sea level, with sweeping views of the coastal forest, Howe Sound, and surrounding mountains. If you look off to the right, you can see Shannon Falls, rising 335 meters above the highway. Each gondola holds 8 passengers, and has floor to ceiling windows, providing maximum viewing opportunities.
Stepping off the gondola, you arrive at Summit Lodge. This cliff edge building boasts a restaurant, coffee shop, and bar; the main attraction, however, is the spectacular 5000 square foot sundeck, stretching around half of the building. The views from this platform are breathtaking, with a backdrop of Howe Sound, the Coastal Mountain Range, and the well known Co-pilot and Sky Pilot Mountain peaks.
The adventure doesn’t stop there. Just past the Summit Lodge are a variety of hiking trails, for all levels and abilities. The trails provide access to specialized viewing platforms, each offering a unique perspective of the surrounding coastal mountains and ocean below.
The Chief Overlook Platform provides a dramatic view, as the platform itself overhangs hundreds of meters of sheer drop. The platform allows visitors to look up the Squamish Valley, view Mount Atwell, and see the backside of the Chief. If you look closely, you can see rock climbers clambering up the Chief, and Windsurfers down below, where the Squamish River meets the Pacific Ocean.
The Spirit viewing platform provides an equally stunning view. It is an excellent place to learn about the Squamish First Nation, and the close relationship they shared with the land. Prior to European contact in the late 1700’s, the First Nation People of Squamish used the accumulated knowledge of several generations to utilize the land, plants, and animals of the area in traditional ways. With park benches scattered throughout the area, this is a great place to stop, sit back, and enjoy the view.
Once given a map, the kids enjoyed leading our walk along the trails; there was more than enough to see and do to keep all four of us entertained for the entire afternoon. If you are looking for something a bit more challenging, there are several back country hiking trails available as well; just be sure to read up on the trail information and be prepared for the elements.
The highlight of our adventure was definitely the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. The bridge itself is 100 meters long, and offers 360 degree views of the entire area. It is a great opportunity to really feel the beauty and magnitude of the surrounding area, standing in the middle of bridge, with the mountains towering above you and the fjord thousands of feet below.
When traveling through Squamish, all four of us highly recommend an afternoon spent at the Sea to Sky Gondola. With awesome views and ample outdoor adventures to be had, the Sea to Sky Gondola really has something for all ages and tastes.
Winter Season: December 4 – April 30, 10am-5pm
Summer Season: May 1 – May 19, 10am-5pm, May 1 – November 6, 10am – 7pm. Open until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, May 20-September 10
Adult – $37.95, Seniors – $35.95, Youth 13-18 – $23.95, Child 6-12 – $13.95, Child under 5 – Free, Family (2 adults, 2 child/youth) – $95.95
Fore more information:
Be sure to visit the Sea to Sky Gondola website.
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