The new gondola is just the beginning of travel experiences in Squamish, from food and First Nations history to hiking and mountain biking.
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We used to steal glances at the magnificent Howe Sound while driving the serpentine Sea-to-Sky Highway between Whistler and Vancouver, BC. Viewing this grand fjord from the scenic pullouts always felt rushed. This spring, glances will turn into stares when the new Sea to Sky Gondola, expected to open mid-May, conveys guests 885 m (2,903 ft) above Squamish.
Situated between Shannon Falls and Stawamus Chief provincial parks, the Sea to Sky Gondola leads to more than a mountain peak. The Chief Overlook Viewing Platform provides a 270-degree view of Howe Sound and the Coast Range Mountains.
Cedar paths lead to additional vistas. The Summit Lodge Viewing Deck should become one of the premier marriage-proposal spots in BC, if not in all of Canada. And the 100-m (328-ft) Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge will prove popular with every age of adventurer.
Inside Summit Lodge itself, Squamish First Nation guides will interpret the local geography and Aboriginal culture. Diners can enjoy local delicacies at the Summit Restaurant and Edge Bar, or more casual fare at the Summit Tea House.
Taking the Sea to Sky Gondola is only the beginning of this Squamish experience. The 1.6 km (1 mi.) Panorama Trail keeps a casual 8-10% grade making it accessible for every age and fitness level. The trail should take about an hour to walk—depending on time spent at the Chief Overlook Viewing Platform.
The Spirit Trail reveals the cultural history of the Squamish First Nation people and the environmental history of the surrounding landscape. A viewing platform looks out upon the Sky Pilot Mountain and Howe Sound fjord. Other trails lead to junctions with the Goat Ridge and Mount Habrich climbers’ trails, both stellar examples of the area’s storied backcountry paths.
Mountaineers, rock climbers, ski-touring and snowshoe enthusiasts will have unparalleled access to the Upper Shannon Creek watershed, Goat Ridge, Mount Habrich and Sky Pilot Mountain. Squamish is already home to some of Canada’s best mountain-biking trails and mountain bikers can look forward to a professionally designed trail at the Sea to Sky Gondola summit as well.
British Columbia is world-renowned for outdoor adventure. Squamish’s Sea to Sky Gondola will open this famed environmental playground to everyone, whether eight or 80 years old, downhill skier or neighbourhood stroller.
Gondola rates: $34.95 adult; children $13.95; family (two adults and two children) $89.95.
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