In 1982 the land including and surrounding Shannon Falls was donated to BC Parks and turned into Shannon Falls Provincial Park, home to the third tallest waterfall in British Columbia. The park is now operated under provincial jurisdiction for camping, outdoor recreation, and the preservation of wildlife, and is one of the most popular sightseeing locations along the Sea To Sky Highway.
Looking for a day trip from Vancouver? Shannon Falls Provincial Park is just south of the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park near Squamish, an easy 50-minute drive from Vancouver along the Sea To Sky Highway. The park and its protected status also includes the surrounding area on the north-east shore of the Howe Sound.
Shannon Falls Provincial Park: a quick history
The decades between the early 1950’s and 1970’s was a time when the majority of today’s most popular parks were developed.
Completion of the Sea To Sky Highway segment between Squamish and Whistler in 1965 created an appetite for roadside parks and rest stops. The first to be developed as a destination park and campground was Alice Lake, just north of Squamish downtown (and 5 mins drive from our base at the Squamish Airport). From day one the new park became staggeringly popularity and still, over 50 years on, remains high on the list of things to do in Squamish. In the wake of Alice Lake’s popularity, other roadside parks including Murrin Lake, Nairn Falls, Green Lake were quickly developed.
As time moves on, Squamish has continued to gain recognition as one of the top day trips from Vancouver, and visiting Shannon Falls Provincial Park is frequently featured on many bucket-lists as one of the top Squamish things to do.
How to get to Shannon Falls
Shannon Falls Provincial Park is in southwestern British Columbia, Canada. It is located 58 kilometres from Vancouver and 2 kilometres south of Squamish along the enchanting Sea to Sky Highway.
Shannon Falls Provincial Park: quick facts
- The tumbling waters of Shannon Falls originate from Mount Habrich and Mount Sky Pilot
- The falls were named after William Shannon who in 1890-1900 owned the falls and surrounding area and used the clay deposits to make bricks
- The land that Shannon Falls Provincial Park sits on was sold to Brittania Copper Mines in 1900
- In the 1930’s, the area was used as a relief camp for the workers building original Highway 99
- In 1976 the area was purchased by Carling O’Keefe Brewery, who used the pure mountain water to brew their beer, and made the area a logging show park. (In 1989, Carling O’Keefe merged with Molson Breweries Canada Ltd to become Molson Companies Ltd, now Molson Coors Brewing Company)
- In 1982 O’Keefe donated the land to BC Parks
Shannon Falls Provincial Park: First Nations culture
This park holds significant spiritual value to the Squamish First Nation, the first people to live in this area. Stories told of a two-headed sea serpent, Say-noth-ka who lived in and around Howe Sound. According to the legend, this beast travelled both on land and in water.
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Some versions say it was Say-noth-ka who formed Shannon Falls by slithering and twisting his powerful body up the mountainside on repeated expeditions, Say-noth-ka gradually wore down a spillway for those cascading waters.
See Shannon Falls Provincial Park from the air
Shannon Falls Provincial Park covers an area of 210 acres and the falls are composed of a series of cliffs, rising 335 metres above Highways 99. From the road-side viewpoint, you can see the first and second cliffs but the real beauty of this giant horsetail waterfall is best appreciated from the air.
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Resources for this post:
1. British Columbia’s Magnificent Parks: the first 100 years; James D. Anderson. 2011
3. “Shannon Falls – World Waterfall Database: World’s Tallest Waterfalls”; Bryan Swan & Dean Goss. 2004.