Some 5,000 years ago, descendants of the people who made their epic journey from Asia across a frozen Bering Strait and down the Alaskan Panhandle to Howe Sound, still live in the area today. The Sko-mish or Squamish people hunted, trapped, fished and raised their families here.
In June 1872, British Explorer Captain George Vancouver sailed into Howe Sound and noted that this was "a most uninhabitable place". Traders, gold seekers and adventurers followed during the next century and in 1889 a couple from Manitoba arrived and started to farm the land. Other people came to farm but forestry eventually took over from farming as the foundation for the economy in Squamish.
In 1956 the railway arrived, linking Squamish to Vancouver, and soon after the main highway was built, today known as the Sea to Sky Highway. With the development and growth of Whistler to the north, outdoor enthusiasts came to the area and today tourism is a significant driving force in the economy of the area.
Squamish is located 64 km (40 mi) north of Vancouver via Trans Canada Highway 1 and Highway 99 - the scenic Sea to Sky Highway - and 67 km (37 mi) south of Whistler. A frequent daily direct shuttle bus service is available from Vancouver Airport (YVR) and Downtown Vancouver via Pacific Coach Lines. A daily return service is also available.
The West Coast Railway Heritage Park is the 'Home of the Royal Hudson' and Western Canada's largest collection of heritage railway equipment dating back to 1890. Climb aboard cabooses, snowplows and locomotives. Ride the 3 kilometre miniature railway around the 12 acre site. See the new Squamish station designed in 1915, but not built until 2000. Learn how Canada's mail was processed on rails in the only authentic restored Railway Post Office in Canada.
Located 10 minutes south of Squamish, the Britannia Mine closed in 1974 after producing more than 56 million tons of copper. Today, the Britannia Mine Museum is a newly transformed, historical destination on Britannia Beach celebrating the contribution of mining and minerals to society, the history of the storied Britannia Beach community and the ideas and practices of environmental renewal and sustainability. More than 50 films and television shows have been filmed here.
At the north end of Squamish, Alice Lake Provincial Park is an excellent destination in the summer months for families and other visitors. Surrounded by towering mountains, dense forests and grassy areas, visitors can enjoy swimming, walking, hiking, biking or have a picnic and relax on one of the two sandy, protected beaches.
Dropping from 335 m (1,105 ft) above its base, Shannon Falls is an impressive sight rising above Howe Sound. As the 3rd tallest falls in BC, it's incredibly easy access makes Shannon Falls one of the most popular picnicking spots and attractions in the Sea to Sky Corridor. A well-maintained trail and boardwalk network allows you to explore the base area of the falls, surrounded by towering trees, old growth stumps, and a permanent mist from the roaring falls.
Towering 600 m (almost 2,000 ft) above Squamish, the Stawamus Chief is Canada's big-wall rock-climbing mecca, attracting keen rock climbers from around the world every summer. Dating back millions of years, the Chief stands as the 2nd tallest freestanding granite monolith in the world, after the Rock of Gibraltar. Even as a climbing mecca, by far the most foot traffic in the Park is the steep hike up its side to any one of the three peaks. Easy access and breathtaking views make it an incomparable hiking objective.
The Squamish Spit, located at the mouth of the Squamish River, is considered by many windsurfing afficionados to be one of the top 10 windsurfing locations in the World. In the summer, when the sun shines, the thermal winds allow surfers to reach speeds exceeding 60 km (37 mi) an hour. Novices can perfect their techniques on one of the many local lakes.
Howe Sound, Porteau Cove, and the Pam Rocks all offer excellent scuba diving opportunities. Porteau Cove is a provincial marine park with man-made reefs, a cliff dive, and three sunken ships plus other wrecks, ideal for divers of all levels. Rental equipment is available from a local retailer.
Hiking trails in the Squamish area range from easy walks along the ocean and in the ancient rain forests to serious backcountry adventures. A great day hike is the three-hour excursion up the backside of the Stawamus Chief with breathtaking views over Squamish and Howe Sound from the top. Easy and family hikes are located in Alice Lake Provincial Park, Smoke Bluffs Viewpoint and Oceanfront Interpretive Trail. There are several intermediate hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
If you're the kind of golfer that appreciates being in nature then golfing in Squamish is your dream with two truly unique courses from the open and friendly Squamish Valley Golf Course or the one of a kind Furry Creek Golf & Country Club with the internationally known 18th hole. Both golf courses offer breathtaking, panoramic views.
Before Squamish was discovered as an outdoor recreational mecca, it was a world-renowned destination for anglers. The surrounding rivers, the Mamquam, Cheakamus, Squamish, and Elaho, have been known to run thick with all five Pacific varieties of salmon, as well as Dolly Varden char and cutthroat trout. Murrin Provincial Park is popular for Rainbow trout which are stocked regularly in the spring and fall.
Squamish boasts some of the best rock climbing in North America. The granite cliffs surrounding Squamish draw climbers from around the world. The Little Smoke Bluffs, Murrin Provincial Park, Comic Rocks, and Cheakamus Canyon offer a multitude of one and two pitch climbs of all difficulties. Peak climbing months are between April and October, but climbers can be seen year round whenever the weather permits.
The wild rapids of the Squamish River watershed offer water sport possibilities for people with all levels of experience. The Lower Cheakamus River is a fabulous venue for the intermediate paddlers, while the Upper Elaho can challenge the best whitewater kayakers and rafters in the world. Squamish also boasts a kayak-training facility on the Mamquam River. Rentals are available from local retailers. There are also several rafting companies which run commercial trips in the area.
The scenic alpine terrain around Squamish makes for great cross-country skiing. The mountains surrounding Squamish get an average of 2,300 mm (90 in) of precipitation annually, which means a generous amount of snow accumulates in the winter months. If there's fresh snow, stop at Brandywine Falls Provincial Park for some ungroomed, cross-country trekking.
The Squamish area has the greatest concentration of wintering bald eagles in North America. Between late November and March, literally thousands of eagles call the Brackendale area of Squamish home. Local companies offer walking and float tours to view these magnificent creatures. Eagle Run Park viewing facility on the municipal dyke in Brackendale is popular with enthusiasts.
Tourism Squamish Visitor Information Centre
102-38551 Loggers Lane
Squamish, BC, V8B 0H2
Toll Free: 1-866-333-2010
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia