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Getting Squamished, A Primer

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Squamish, a mountain town hugging the Howe Sound of British Columbia’s west coast, stands between Vancouver and Whistler along the Sea to Sky Highway. Its outdoor diversity is unparalleled—from backcountry skiing and rock climbing to windsurfing on the sound’s waters—allowing for an adventure around every turn.


Elevation 16 feet, Population 19,512

Nestled in the midst of the Coast Mountains and Howe Sound, one can find the lively town of Squamish, British Columbia. Located midway between Vancouver and Whistler, adventure and culture thrive here, as the locals are deeply connected to their natural environment and tight-knit community, constantly seeking new ways to explore and embrace their surroundings.

Nestled on the edge of the majestic Sea to Sky Highway, Squamish beckons to adventure seekers with its endless array of outdoor offerings.In Squamish, adventure awaits at every turn. Whether you’re tackling heart-stopping backcountry ski runs, sheer rock faces waiting to be climbed, treacherous trails begging to be run or hair-raising mountain biking trails, there’s no shortage of electrifying opportunities in this wild playground. And when you need a break from the adrenaline rush, just head down to the sparkling waters of the sound and let the wind guide you while windsurfing into the sunset.

Beautiful view of Stawamus Chief Mountain and Howe Sound from Squamish, British Columbia.

Beautiful view of Stawamus Chief Mountain and Howe Sound from Squamish, British Columbia.

The city is a mountain biker’s paradise, boasting over 350 miles of designated trails that weave through the rugged landscape. From heart-stopping descents on advanced routes to thrilling jumps and drops on beginner trails, Squamish is consistently rated as one of the top destinations in the world for this adrenaline-fueled sport. With breathtaking views and challenging terrain, it’s no surprise that riders come from all corners of the globe to test their skills in this outdoor playground.

The bustling city of Squamish doubles as a mecca for rock-climbing enthusiasts, boasting over 1,200 heart-pumping routes scattered throughout the area. Even the road leading up to Whistler offers an additional 300 routes for thrill-seekers.

It’s no wonder that Squamish is often referred to as an outdoor paradise. Just outside the city limits stands the majestic Stawamus Chief Mountain, a towering granite monolith reaching an impressive height of 2,297 feet. This iconic landmark is renowned globally for its size and challenging climbing routes.

Nestled along the gleaming waters of Howe Sound, Squamish basks in warm summers and braves through moderately cold winters. Although rain may pour down during the colder months, it often transforms into a powdery snowfall atop the nearby mountains, creating a picturesque winter wonderland. The ever-present wind dances and swirls through Howe Sound, transforming its calm surface into a thrilling playground for kiteboarders and windsurfing enthusiasts alike.

Local Adventure Vibe

With such a plethora of outdoor activities, it’s comes as no surprise that the town full of devoted thrill seekers. One of the most notable organizations in the city is SORCA, a local mountain bike association. At SORCA their mission is simple; to organize races and events, manage the trail network of Squamish, work to expand the trail network, and advocate for the protection of the land.

When it comes to trail running, Capra Run Club, helps unite the runners of the city for group runs and local events. Squamish is also home to the well-known ultra-marathon, the Squamish 50/50. The event entails a weekend of races, with a 50 miler on the first day and a 50-kilometer race on the second day. Individuals, or relay groups, can choose to run just one race or the two races back to back to compete for the fastest combined time.

Uniquely Squamish

Perhaps the most unique feature of Squamish is the Sea to Sky Gondola that rises above the city. The summit of the gondola provides panoramic views of Howe Sound and the city below.

The Sea to Sky Gondola ride, the Summit Viewing Deck and Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge are exhilirating experiences in the shadow of Sky Pilot Mountain peaks.

The Sea to Sky Gondola ride, the Summit Viewing Deck and Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge are exhilirating experiences in the shadow of Sky Pilot Mountain peaks.

Squamish is full of outdoor adventure and it happens to be surrounded by eight of Canada’s provincial parks, each offering a unique experience. Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park is home to the wintering bald eagle population of Squamish, which happens to be the highest in all of the world. Pathways through the park allow hikers and fisherman to see the multitude of birds that call this park home during the winter months.

The Squamish River in Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park, a famous Eagle watching spot in British Columbia.

The Squamish River in Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park, a famous Eagle watching spot in British Columbia.

Just outside of the city also lies the iconic Garibaldi Provincial Park. The park totals over 1,950 square kilometers of the backcountry. Spanning from Squamish up to Whistler, the park is home to day hikes, backpacking trips, Elfin Lakes, and Garibaldi Lake. During the winter the park transformers into the ideal place for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing.

Along the Sea to Sky Highway lies Shannon Falls Provincial Park. The 1,100-foot waterfall can be seen from the road and is the third tallest waterfall in all of British Columbia. The surrounding land is home to more than just sightseeing with hiking trails and rock-climbing routes throughout.

Food & Drink

Squamish is a vibrant town that ignites the senses with an array of delectable cuisine to satisfy every craving. Roam from trendy eateries to casual dining spots to bustling breweries, indulging in artisanal coffee, freshly made donuts, and hand-crafted ice cream along the way. Dive headfirst into their thriving food and drink scene by embarking on a self-guided tasting trail, uncovering the mouth-watering secrets of Squamish’s culinary world.

Indulge in a delicious brunch with eggs benedict or satisfy your post-hike cravings with a juicy burger – you’ve found the perfect spot. Squamish’s menu offers a variety of classic pub-style dishes as well as sustainable, locally-sourced options with a Squamish twist. No matter what you’re craving, these restaurants and pubs provide satisfying meals that will keep you energized for an adventure-filled day.

Indulge in a special treat and a cup of gourmet coffee to kickstart or unwind your day. In Squamish, you can discover a variety of independent coffee shops and artisanal bakeries, each with their own specialties and charm. Sample locally-sourced roasted beans, handcrafted donuts, and other enticing delights.

To start the days off both Tall Tree Bakery and Caffe Garibaldi and popular choices. Tall Tree Bakery offers a wide range of delicious pastries along with sandwiches made on their bread, perfect to pack along for a day in the mountains. Caffe Garibaldi is the place to be in Squamish if you’re looking for an artisan cup of coffee. Like many mountain towns, Squamish has its fair share of breweries.

Squamish is quickly becoming a hub for craft beverages, with a diverse selection of breweries, cideries, and distilleries. Whether you have a go-to spot or want to try something new, these local gems are perfect for pairing with delicious food.

Most notable are Backcountry Brewing and Howe Sound Brew Pub. While Backcountry Brewery only opened a few year ago, it’s quickly become a town favorite. Howe Sound Brew Pub was ahead of the brewery curve and opened its doors back in the 1990s. Besides just delicious food and drink, Squamish also offers restaurants with views that are tough be beat.

Voted ‘Brewery of the Year’ at the Canadian Brewing Awards 2022, Howe Sound Brew Pub is one of Squamish’s most popular spots for visitors and locals alike.

Along the Squamish River lies The Watershed Grill, a laid-back bar and restaurant with Canadian eats and expansive views of the Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park across the river. Atop the Sea to Sky Gondola Summit lies some of the best views of the region. The Summit Eatery offers casual food and drinks all with views of Howe Sound and the city of Squamish below.

Places to Stay

No matter your preferences or budget, you’re on the right track to finding the perfect home base for your next adventure. Book a room at a boutique hotel or pitch a tent in the forest. Whether you desire a charming cabin by the river or a luxurious resort with all the amenities, Squamish has plenty of options to make you feel right at home. After a long day of exploration, rest easy and recharge for tomorrow’s adventures.

Hotels and Resorts

After a full day of adventures, relax and unwind in the comfort of your own home away from home. Choosing to stay in town means you’ll be even closer to your next exciting journey. Rest peacefully and indulge in the warm hospitality provided by Squamish’s top-notch hotels and resorts, knowing that tomorrow brings even more opportunities for exploration.

View Hotel and Resort Listings in Squamish!


Immerse yourself in Squamish’s distinct neighborhoods by staying in a VRBO. Choose from an array of accommodations, including suites, apartments, and entire homes, all boasting different sizes and layouts. Enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains or ocean from your rental’s prime location.

Whether you’re seeking a cozy mountain hideaway or a tiny home by the sea, you can rent a shared space or have an entire house to yourself with all the amenities you desire. From being centrally located downtown to more remote areas in the scenic Squamish Valley, many rentals are conveniently situated near trailheads, parks, activities, and restaurants.

View VRBO’s Rental Listings in Squamish!


Desire the tranquility of the woods or snuggling up by the bonfire after a day of adventure? Whether you’re setting up a tent, parking your RV, or settling into a snug cabin, discover the ideal place to rest under the open skies.

Camping in Squamish is a fantastic experience, with plenty of options for families seeking an ideal basecamp for holiday adventures, individuals looking for a spot by the lake or ocean, and nature enthusiasts wanting to pitch their tent in the lush Squamish rainforest. The possibilities in and around Squamish are endless.

For information about camping in BC Parks please check BC Park’s website.

Alice Lake Provincial Park offers family and RV camping along with bathrooms and showers for guests; a cozier spin on traditional tent camping. Nearby Stawamus Chief Provincial Park sits below this iconic rock face, making it the perfect spot to pitch a tent for those looking to be first on the rock-climbing route the following morning. Porteau Cove sits south of the city along the Howe Sound. Campers can drift off to sleep while listening to the waves crash upon the shore.

Here are a few of our favorite campgrounds:

Alice Lake Provincial Park: Alice Lake Provincial Park is situated north of Squamish near Highway 99. On the lake’s shore, there is a spacious campground that has a welcoming atmosphere for families. It also serves as an excellent starting point for exploring all that Squamish has to offer. After a day of adventures, it’s a great spot to relax and take a swim.

Paradise Valley Campground: Just a short distance from Highway 99, up Paradise Valley Road, lies Paradise Valley Campground. Surrounded by the breathtaking Cheakamus River, visitors can feel as if they have escaped from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The campground offers convenient access to various hiking trails, including the Cheakamus, Cheekeye, and Squamish Rivers, as well as Brohm and Levette Lake. RV camping and campsites are both available, and there is even an on-site shop where you can purchase coffee, ice cream, and milkshakes.

Mountain Fun Basecamp: Located near town, south of Alice Lake Provincial Park on Highway 99, this charming resort provides all the necessary amenities for those wishing to camp in a tent or park an RV. For a more luxurious camping experience, there are also cozy cabin-like rooms available for rent. The added benefit is its prime location amidst some of Squamish’s top mountain biking and hiking trails.

If you don’t have a bike with you, Flying Spirit Rentals is located in the MTN Fun Basecamp office and offers a full fleet of options.

Klahanie Campground: For over 30 years, Klahanie Campground has been a popular destination for campers in the Sea to Sky region, conveniently located across from Shannon Falls in Darrell Bay. It’s an ideal spot to unwind and explore, with a short stroll leading to the base of the Stawamus Chief, Shannon Falls, and the Sea to Sky Gondola. The campground boasts stunning views of Howe Sound and even has its own private beach, perfect for soaking in the sunset scenery.

Stawamus Chief Provincial Park: Surrounded by the thick forest, lies a campground that sits at the base of the 700-meter tall granite formation known as the Chief. For any avid rock climber, this is the ultimate spot to set up camp. Simply find a spot and set up your tent before carrying your gear on your back for a quick walk through the woods, leading you straight to some of the most renowned climbing spots in the world. Keep in mind that this campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis.

Mamquam River Campground: Squamish’s latest camping spot is charmingly rustic, perfectly positioned near all the amenities of town and right next to the Mamquam River. However, there are no facilities for RVs or running water available; instead, think of it as backcountry camping brought to the front country. While the outhouses are regularly maintained, campers are advised to bring their own hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes to sanitize surfaces before and after use.

Porteau Cove: There is no greater joy than setting up a cozy tent and falling asleep to the gentle lullaby of ocean waves crashing against the shore. The vast 56-hectare park beckons with a multitude of exciting adventures, from strolling along driftwood beaches to discovering the vibrant marine life in tidal pools. The ocean’s secrets are waiting to be revealed, including sunken ships and artificial reefs that offer a glimpse into the past. Picnic areas and pebble beaches provide the perfect spot for a peaceful retreat. As for accommodations, the campground boasts 44 spacious drive-in sites and 16 secluded walk-in campsites, all available for reservation online. Get ready to immerse yourself in nature’s enchanting beauty at this coastal paradise.

The beach at Porteau Cove Provincial Park and Campground. Between Squamish and West Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway.


Rock Climbing

With over 1,000 climbing routes located near Squamish, there are seemingly endless options of what route to try next. A few iconic areas have climbers continually coming back for more.

Stawamus Chief Mountain, better known as the chief, has 428 epic climbing routes along its many faces.

Stawamus Chief Mountain, better known as the chief, has 428 epic climbing routes along its many faces.

The Chief

Stawamus Chief Mountain, better known as the chief, has 428 climbing routes along its many faces. Located just south of Squamish, this massive dome towers over the region. Routes along the Chief vary greatly, from slabs, crack climbs, and bolted face routes. Within the Chief region, a majority of routes can be found in the Grand Wall Boulders, the Apron, Apron Boulders, and the North Wall Boulders.

Shannon Falls

South of the Chief lies Shannon Falls Provincial Park. The park has over 60 climbing routes and is surprisingly not packed with climbers despite the popularity of the falls. After crossing the river, climbers have access to amazing routes all while listening to the nearby falls. The left side of the region is where a majority of the routes are with numerous single and multipitch climbs.

Shannon Falls in Shannon Falls Provincial Park has more than 60 climbing routes.

Shannon Falls in Shannon Falls Provincial Park has more than 60 climbing routes.

The Smoke Bluffs

Located just minutes from downtown Squamish lies the Smoke Bluffs. The area has 427 climbing routes right in the city’s backyard. Much of the routes are comprised of small crags with a few multi-pitch routes throughout.


Squamish is surrounded by countless trails for hiking and backpacking. In fact, the region is home to some of the most iconic hikes in all of British Columbia.

The panoramic views from the Stawamus Chief are worth the climb to the top of the iconic dome.

The panoramic views from the Stawamus Chief are worth the climb to the top of the iconic dome.

Stawamus Chief Trail: Climbing to the summit of the iconic dome is no easy feat. The 4-mile route has 2,500 feet of elevation gain. The trail leads hikers to the three major peaks on the mountain. Though beautiful, this hike is not for the faint of heart. The route utilizes chains and ladders to reach the summit. However, once at the top, all the climbing is worth it with panoramic views of Howe Sound, Garibaldi Provincial Park and the city of Squamish below.

Elfin Lakes in summer, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Elfin Lakes in summer, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Elfin Lakes (Diamondhead): Located within Garibaldi Provincial Park lies Elfin Lakes. This 12.5-mile out and back hike has 2,693 feet, for a challenging day hike or a backpacking excursion. After climbing through the forest, the trail opens up on Round Mountain with views of Mt. Garibaldi and the Tantalus Mount Ranger before reach the alpine lakes.

Browning Lake and Jurassic Ridge Loop: This short 1.5-mile loop hike has 530 feet of elevation gain. The loop trail, circles around part of Browning Lake before rising up onto Jurassic Ridge. From the top hikers look down upon the lake to the east or Howe Sound stretched out to the west.

Backcountry Skiing

Paul Ridge: Just north of Squamish lies the entrance to Garibaldi Provincial Park. Up the trail to Elfin Lake Hut lies the local backcountry paradise. Three kilometers along Paul Ridge offers numerous tree lines and open bowls for backcountry skiers. A true Squamish skiing experience.

Garibaldi Neve Traverse: An iconic route of the region is the Garibaldi Neve Traverse. The traverse is 40 kilometers in length along the east side of Mount Garibaldi. The multi-day route can be done as a hut to hut excursion and stretches from Diamond Head to the Rubble Creek parking lot.

Mountain Biking

Diamond Head: Located above Quest University lies some of the best-known mountain biking trails in the region. This network of trails became more popular after the construction of the iconic Half Nelson route. The wide variety of well-marked trails, make Diamond Head a place that mountain bikers simply can’t pass up. Popular routes include Half Nelson, Pseudo-Tsuga, and Angry Midget.

Mount Garibaldi in Garibaldi Provincial Park also known as Diamond Head near Squamish. British Columbia.

Mount Garibaldi in Garibaldi Provincial Park also known as Diamond Head near Squamish. British Columbia.

Alice Lake: The Alice Lake trail system is located between the Alice Lake Provincial Park and the Garibaldi Highlands. Trails in this region range from beginner to expert, offering technical downhill flow sections. Many of the trails in this region were hand built and test rider’s technical skills. Popular routes include Pamplemousse, Rupert, and Entrails.

Valleycliffe: South of Squamish lies Valleycliffe. Though the trails system is as well marked as those closer to town, the region offers numerous single-track routes along with some expert descents. Popular trails include Farther Side, Meet Yer Maker, and Endo.

Trail Running

4 Lakes Trail: Along the shores of Alice Lake Provincial Park lies the 4 Lakes Trail. True to its name, the relatively easy 6.5km trail winds through the park passing along the four lakes. The loop trail offers numerous sections to add extra length to the route or stop and enjoy the scenic views.

Just imagine trail running on these mystical tails in the rain forest on a foggy and rainy fall day. Alice Lake Provincial Park, Squamish, British Columbia.

Just imagine trail running on these mystical tails in the rain forest on a foggy and rainy fall day. Alice Lake Provincial Park, Squamish, British Columbia.

Elfin Lakes: This 22km trail is often a day long adventure. Starting at the Diamond Head parking lot, the trail winds through old growth forest before reaching Paul Ridge at 1,660 meters. From the ridgeline, Elfin Lakes can be seen in the distance as the trial descends to the water. The first lake is perfect for cooling off mid-run, while the swimming in the smaller second lake is forbidden.

4WD Touring/Overlanding

Mamquam River Forest Service Road: This route leads out of the city and east into the mountains. The 33.5-mile route had 3,681 feet of elevation gain. The scenic route is popular amongst 4x4s, dirt bikes, side by sides, and ATVs. The old road follows along the Mamquam River while dipping through valleys and climbing into the mountains south of Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Kite and Kite Surfing

The unique combinations of wind, water, and land, make Squamish a sought-after location for wind and kite surfing. The main area for these activities is along the Squamish Spit. The Spit, a narrow piece of land, is located where the Squamish River flows into Howe Sound. Here, conditions are perfect for beginners and experts alike. Squamish Watersports, located downtown, helps equip surfers with the best gear and connect them to the perfect location to begin their day out on the water.

Kiteboarders and windsurfers have almost guaranteed wind off Squamish Spit where the Squamish River empties into the head of Howe Sound, British Columbia.

Kiteboarders and windsurfers have almost guaranteed wind off Squamish Spit where the Squamish River empties into the head of Howe Sound, British Columbia.

Best Guided Adventures

Prepare for the ultimate thrill of a lifetime with 57hours adventure guides. With unparalleled expertise and passion, these guides will take you on a journey through stunning landscapes and exhilarating activities. Their sole purpose is to make your outdoor adventures hassle-free and unforgettable. Trust in their extensive training as they lead you through treacherous mountain terrain, ensuring your safety at all times.

Why 57hours? It’s the exact amount of time from 3:00 pm on Friday until the stroke of midnight on Sunday – 57 hours to push your limits, conquer new challenges, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Mountain Biking Tours in Squamish

57hours connects riders with either half-day or full-day guided mountain biking tours in Squamish. All levels are welcome while experts in the field take showoff some of the best routes the city has to offer. Ride down the iconic Half Nelson and Rupert routes or discover lesser known ones the locals love.

Guided Rock Climbing in Squamish

Available April through October, day long guided rocking climbing trips are available for all skill levels. Tours offer anything from multi-pitch to boulder along some of the most iconic climbing spots in the region. Climb along the Chief, Smoke Bluffs, or head just south to Shannon Falls with a certified local guide.

Climb the Chief in Squamish

Check one of the world’s largest granite monoliths off your climbing bucket list. Towering an imposing 2,300 feet above Squamish and Howe Sound, “The Chief” draws in climbers from all over the world every year. With hundreds of routes to choose from and tons of variety— runout slabs, splitter cracks, bolted face climbs and long, exciting multi-pitches — the Chief’s reputation is well-earned. Take your place among the greats and conquer this world-class mountain.

Backcountry Skiing at the Journeyman Lodge

Thirty minutes north of Squamish lies the hidden gem of Journeyman Lodge within Callaghan County. This guided backcountry skiing trip is five days long exploring the remote Coast Mountains within the Upper Callaghan Basin. Skiers can explore the limitless backcountry routes alongside a ACMG certified guide.

Endless Possibilities

Squamish is an outdoor paradise unlike any other. The summer months offer a thrill-seeker’s dream with grueling ultra-marathons, treacherous rock climbing routes, challenging hikes, heart-pounding mountain biking trails, and adrenaline-fueled off-roading adventures. And when winter hits, the real adventure begins with some of the most epic backcountry skiing in all of British Columbia.

A visit to Squamish is not just a trip, it’s an experience of a lifetime that will leave you breathless and craving more. And when it comes to satisfying your cravings, the local restaurants are an absolute must-try, offering delectable pastries and refreshing beers that will leave you wanting more. As night falls, cozy up in one of the charming cabins or campsites and immerse yourself in the true essence of Squamish. From the majestic Howe Sound to the summit of the Sea to Sky Gondola, every inch of this place is filled with untamed adventure that will leave you wondering why you didn’t come here sooner.

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