Over the six years I have been in Squamish, I have watched this town dramatically change. Instead of just being a gas stop on the way to Whistler, Squamish has been intentionally rebranding itself as its own tourist destination – and rightly so! As the ‘adventure capital of Canada,’ Squamish has a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities. And while Squamish is home to such an amazing natural environment with features such as Howe Sound fjord, the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls, the coastal mountains and glaciers and many others, there are still vast areas that are inaccessible to most visitors.
The newest attraction that is propelling Squamish into a premier tourist destination is the Sea to Sky Gondola. The gondola opened in May, and has been a huge hit with tourists and locals alike. The gondola starts two kilometres south of Squamish, and travels 885 metres up to the beautiful Summit lodge and viewing platforms. The gondola travels between the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls and offers incredible views of Howe Sound and the surrounding coastal mountains the entire way up. The ride takes about 10 minutes, and you are rewarded with even more stunning views at the top.
If you don’t want to pay to ride the gondola up, you can hike the Sea to Summit trail, which takes between two and three hours and is 10 kilometres. You can pay a reduced price to ride the gondola down.
One of the great things about the gondola is the backcountry terrain it opens up. Much of the surrounding terrain was quite inaccessible unless you had a vehicle that drive on extremely rugged logging roads. In the summer, you can find lots of hiking trails and rock climbing areas at the summit of the gondola. There are trail running races at the top and next year they are hoping to open new mountain biking trails. In the winter, one could go ski-touring or snowshoeing. The options are endless!
I bought a season’s pass and have been up the gondola four times already! There was a wonderful summer solstice celebration a few weeks ago, and lots of us alumni went up to enjoy good views and some great music.
I highly recommend going up the gondola if you have the chance. You may even run into one of the many Quest students and alumni who are working there this summer!