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We had the pleasure of spending a spectacular day in beautiful Squamish, BC last July. There were so many things to do that it was hard to decide on how to spend only one day in Squamish. I’ve put together some great ideas for inexpensive places to stay and some awesome things to do during your visit.
Squamish is located between Vancouver and Whistler on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. The highway itself offers fabulous views but if you’re driving don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road as it’s quite an intense drive! The district has a population just shy of 20,000. The town is located in the traditional territory of the Squamish Nation, an indigenous west coast people. You’ll find many of the signs in both English and the Squamish language. Squamish’s slogan is “Hard Wired for Adventure” which is very accurate based on all the interesting activities the area has to offer.
Where to stay
Surprisingly, there are several low cost campgrounds in Squamish. There is a Municipal Campground and a non-profit, Mamquam River Campground. We got super lucky when we were looking for somewhere to stay; planning ahead isn’t our forte as we don’t like to be tied down. But we took a chance and headed to Mamquam River and were blessed with an available campsite that fit our RV. It was a pretty basic campground but had exactly what any RV would hope for, a safe place to park! If you are looking for other options the District of Squamish website is very helpful! Due to the popularity of Squamish, the district has cracked down on “Wild” or “Freedom” camping. At the time of this post the District of Squamish website had listed “hot spots” where camping would not be tolerated.
Squamish boasts an awesome biking path that will take you from both the municipal campground and Mamquam River Campground to the city centre. It’s a flat, treed, paved path that made getting into town an adventure in itself. If you are on foot, walking around downtown is another easy option and there are also several bus routes. There are two taxi services in Squamish, Squamish Taxi and Howe Sound Taxi. In 2019 Uber and Lyft may also be available in Squamish as the province of BC has updated legislation to allow ride sharing companies in the province. Obviously if you have your own wheels then the sky’s the limit for places you can go in Squamish.
What to Do
Sea to Sky Gondola
The Sea to Sky Gondola is a fabulous way to get sweeping views of Howe Sound. Normally we tend to be budget travellers but this was one splurge worth the price of admission. The gondola takes you up to a ridge on Mount Habrich once there you have the option of taking multiple scenic walks, intensive hikes or chilling out at the Summit Lodge for some lunch and a beer. Many of the walks are low intensity, I had no issues exploring while 6 months pregnant. There is also an epic 100 meter long suspension bridge. If you are looking for a challenge, you have the option of hiking from the base of the mountain to the top of the gondola. This is a pretty intense hike designed for the intermediate to experienced; so if you are into hiking this may be a great option for you! Definitely check out the interactive trail map on the website for more info on the hikes and walks available. The Sea to Sky Gondola has something to offer for people of all physical abilities and provides spectacular views and vantage points of Howe Sound and surrounding mountains.
If you are more of a water baby, Howe Sound boasts some of the best kite surfing and wind surfing Canada has to offer. Where the Squamish River meets the Howe Sound there is a wee spit of land that juts out providing great access for wind driven water sports. Recently, the spit was upgraded to provide surfers with an awesome launch area, bleachers for gawkers and better parking. There are several outfits in town which provide rentals and lessons such as Aerial Kiteboading and Squamish Water Sports.
There are more parks in the Squamish area than you can shake a stick at! Garabaldi, Shannon Falls, Stawamus Chief, and Brackendale Eagles are just a few of the provincial parks around. Shannon Falls Provincial Park and Stawamus Chief Provincial Park are the two parks closest to Squamish. Shannon Falls is the third tallest water fall in all of Canada coming in at over 1,100 ft tall! And Stawamus Chief is the second largest freestanding piece of granite in the world. Hikers and climbers love to come to this park to conquer the Chief. Garabaldi Provincial Park is the largest in Squamish and has remarkable high trails throughout. There are many natural wonders in Garabaldi including its namesake mountain as well as Black Tusk. If you are a bird lover than Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park should be at the top of your list to see Bald Eagles in their natural element. The park was established a “protect critical bald eagle habitat for feeding, perching, and roosting.”
Beer, Cider and Booze
After all that exploring you’ll be in need of refreshment, fortunately, Squamish is home to several award winning breweries, cideries and a distillery. When looking for a spot to quench your thirst you’ll have your pick of Howe Sound Brewing, A Frame Brewing, Back Country Brewing, Cliffside Cider, North Yards Cider Co, and Gillespie’s Fine Spirits and Distillery. We only had the opportunity to try out Howe Sound Brewing and boy did they have nice beers! They also have a great restaurant and pub which specializes in gourmet pizzas. It was awarded “best brew pub in BC”! A beer tasting tour around Squamish sounds like my kind of day! Just don’t forget to be safe and get a DD.
If after all the ideas I’ve given you on how to spend a day in Squamish, BC you still can’t decided then I highly recommend you check out the Explore Squamish website. They can tell you all about places to stay, places to eat, things to do and special events. One day isn’t enough in the funky town of Squamish, it’s such an amazing area full of natural beauty and adventure. But since we live a life on the road I know we will be back!
Interested in more great spots to visit in beautiful British Columbia, check out our other posts: