It seems like every summer Squamish is included in a list of “the best places to travel” or “North Americ’s best towns for outdoor adventure”. The popularity of our little coastal mountain town is growing with every passing day.
But did you know that there are just as many amazing things to do in Squamish in the winter? Yep, everything from snowshoeing and ski touring, to local shopping at the Winter Farmers Market and even world-class scuba diving.
We’ve been flying and living in this region for over 20 years, here are 4 of our favourite things to in Squamish in the winter year-after-year:
1. Eagle viewing in Brackendale and the Squamish Valley
Between the months of November and January, the spawning salmon return to the Squamish River bringing with them the largest gathering of wintering bald eagles anywhere in North America.
The eagles perch and roost along the Squamish River watershed waiting to catch their lunch and can be seen up-close and with the naked eye from popular, public eagle viewing areas such as Eagle Run Park.
From the park there is also a free, guided community-based interpretive program offered at the Eagle Run Park viewing area called, Eagle Watch. Every weekend friendly volunteers meet up at the park and offer walking tours and information to help visitors understand eagle and salmon life cycles and why they come to this particular place in Squamish. Eagle Watch is the only free eagle viewing tour and they welcome visitors each weekend until early February.
2. Sightseeing by plane over Garibaldi Provincial Park
Sightseeing by plane is one of the most extraordinary things to do in Squamish. You might think that’s just us being biased but take a look at Trip Advisor, our scenic flights are annually voted the #1 Outdoor Activity in Squamish.
One of the main reasons guests love exploring Squamish by plane is that there is just no other way to take in so much incredible landscape all at once.
The Sea To Sky’s mountainous region was formed during the last ice age. A time when active volcanoes erupted into the vast icefields that once dominated the landscape. Covering over 550 square kilometres, your flight will take off from the Squamish Airport and fly deep into Garibaldi Provincial Park where you’ll get shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the region’s most iconic sights, including the Black Tusk and the Garibaldi Lake. This tour is an ideal way to kick off your winter trip to Whistler or Squamish.
3. Beach-side stargazing at Porteau Cove near Squamish
Highway 99, or as it’s more lovingly know to us, the Sea To Sky Highway, is one of North America’s most popular scenic drives. It’s been compared in beauty and majesty to the legendary Pacific Coast Highway in California.
This world-famous stretch of unbroken road edges between coastal cliffs and mountain peaks all the way from Vancouver, through Squamish and Whistler, over the mountain pass known as The Duffy, ending in the desert town of Lillooet. Of all the places to stop along this drive at night, Porteau Cove Provincial Park is simply one of the best. Just search “Porteau Cove” on Instagram and you’ll see what we mean.
The beach at Porteau Cove has become a stargazing and Northen Lights hot spot, in-part because of the unobstructed view north down the Howe Sound.
4. Hike the Stawamus Chief – the most spectacular dog-friendly trail
The Stawamus Chief is the world’s second largest granite monolith and it can be seen towering over Squamish from miles away.
“The Chief” as it’s known to locals, rises around 700m above sea level and has views up and down the Howe Sound and north towards the south face of Mount Garibaldi on the edge of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
The hike up can take anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours to reach the top, depending on how many stops you make at waterfalls, rock pools, and views along the way. The trail is in great condition all year-round but it does get very busy on weekends and holidays, even in the winter months.
Whatever wonderful things you decide to do in Squamish this winter, be sure to share your shots on social media with #ExploreSquamish.