woman standing in forest holding a maple leaf | Squamish, BC

Squamish, BC: How to visit our bucket-list adventure town in the fall

In Squamish Activities by Vicky Farrand

Sandwiched between Vancouver and the world-class ski resort of Whistler, Squamish is a coastal mountain town carving out a reputation all of its own among these two traditional BC destinations.

But, as Squamish grows in popularity with adventure travellers, hikers, climbers, and even foodies, what many people still don’t know is that Squamish sits at the heart of one of the most endangered and fascinating rainforests on the planet, the Pacific temperate rainforest. It’s so incredible that we’ve made it our job to share it with as many people as possible.

Fall is when the Pacific Ranges and coast mountains come alive! It’s when you get rainbows over mountain peaks and sunsets that light the clouds on fire. Here are our top tips for visiting Squamish in the fall, everything from what to pack, where to go, and what to expect.

Squamish, BC in the fall: 5 things everyone should pack

Rain is notorious for putting a damper on vacations, but not here in Squamish. After all, this is a rainforest and the rainy season is when you see it at its best.

Fall rain is one of the reasons that the Squamish landscape can support gigantic trees and large mammals like bears and cougars. Trees in a coastal temperate rainforest can grow all year-round because they get most of their rain in the winter and the temperatures are mild. Our coastal rainforests also have astonishingly diverse shrub layer that allows the growth of skunk cabbage, sedges and berries – some of our black bear’s favourite food.

There is a saying “there’s no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothing”. So if exploring in the rain is new to you, let us lend had with our list of what to pack:

1. a lightweight rain jacket

When it rains, it rains. And that’s the true beauty of a rainforest.

In the fall the weather in Squamish will usually go one of two ways: cold and sunny or warm and wet. Sometimes with a surprise 28ºC+ day thrown in just to really test your laying skills. Because of Squamish’s proximity to the coast, it is one of the first places to receive rain as precipitation moves inland from the Pacific Ocean. Wind pushes this rain towards the mountains and the Squamish Valley, giving Squamish it’s traditional name of “Skwxwu7mesh” meaning Mother of the Wind.

Beauty in the ugliest of days.

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2. sunglasses

Bluebird days were made in Squamish and the weather can change quickly so don’t assume that a cloudy morning will mean a gloomy grey day. In Squamish it is a common sight to wake up to a few clouds and scattered showers in the morning, but come lunchtime the skies are clear and it’s wall-to-wall blue sky.

Glaciers exist all year-round in Squamish, so if you’re taking a sightseeing flight with us there is good chance you’ll see one. On bright days you want to see them in all their bright, shimmering glory, and sunglasses will really help.

3. growler

If you’re a craft beer fan, make sure you pack an extra growler so that you can take home some of your own tasty Squamish brew.

Squamish has 3 great craft breweries: A-Frame Brewing Co., Backcountry Brewing, and Howe Sound Brewing. Each has its own tasting room or tap room ready for you to stop by and share stories after a day exploring.

4. hiking boots

Squamish isn’t called the recreation capital of Canada for nothing. We have trail network that spans the length, breadth, and hight of the valley. You can get yourself to some spectacular places with a pair of good shoes, a map and a day to roam.

5. camera

The diversity of landscape in Squamish, BC will blow your mind. In every direction, there is something to photograph. From alpine lakes to snow-covered peaks, ancient glaciers and the world’s most southerly fjord. It’s easy to see why Squamish attracts photographers from all over the world.

Embrace the Squamish Rainforest

There are 7 regions of temperate rainforest in the world and the largest pocket (accounting for 25% of all temperate rain forests) is here in North America, stretching down the coast from Alaska to California, with Squamish bang in the middle. We feel privileged to call this place home because it is the largest remaining, intact pocket of temperate rainforest in the world.

Kinda rainy, kinda Smokey, kinda awesome

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British Columbia is divided into 14 biogeoclimatic zones:

  1. Alpine-Tudra Spruce
  2. Spruce Wllow – Birch
  3. Boreal Black and White Spruce
  4. Sub-Boreal Pine Spruce
  5. Sub-Boreal Spruce
  6. Mountain Hemlock
  7. Englemann Spruce – Subalpine Fir
  8. Montane Spruce
  9. Bunchgrass
  10. Ponderosa Pine
  11. Interior Douglas-Fir
  12. Coastal Douglas-Fir
  13. Interior Cedar – Hemlock
  14. Coastal Western Hemlock

Here in Squamish, we sit in the Mountain Hemlock Zone. The Western Hemlock tree can be found readily throughout the forests in Alberta, British Columbia, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California between the sea level and up to 2000m elevation in coastal to sub-alpine forests. It is the dominant species within this range.

“The climate of the region where Western Hemlocks are located is characterized by long, mild, and wet winters, and relatively sunny and dry summers. During winter time the hemlock experience the most growth. Especially on the coast, where winds can reach sustained speeds of above 100km/hour, the Hemlock have an advantage over the other shorter, weaker trees by being able to better withstand the more extreme climates.” – SFU Biogeoclimatic Zones of BC

Catch a colourful Squamish sunset

As the days grow shorter and the nights draw closer the skies over Squamish glow with the most spectacular hues, bursting with vibrant pinks, reds and oranges; and there is a very interesting reason why.

The Weather Channel says:

“Blue light has a short wavelength, so it gets scattered easiest by air molecules, such as nitrogen and oxygen. Longer wavelength lights — reds and oranges — are not scattered as much by air molecules. During sunrise and sunset, light from the sun must pass through much more of our atmosphere before reaching our eyes, so it comes into contact with even more molecules in the air. Much of the blue light gets scattered away, making the reds and oranges more pronounced.”

During sunrise and sunset, light from the sun must pass through much more of our atmosphere before reaching our eyes, so it comes into contact with even more molecules in the air. Much of the blue light gets scattered away, making the reds and oranges more pronounced.”

Now put yourself at 6500ft where there is an unobstructed 360º view of the sun setting over the Howe Sound islands!