The town of Squamish, British Columbia, has grown into a mecca for outdoor adventurers and day-trippers. From hiking to rock-climbing, mountain biking to windsurfing, Squamish has active adventures for every taste. For those interested in a more sedate outdoor experience, or accessing the region’s backcountry delights, the Sky to Sky Gondola offers the chance to get high in the sky for views and fresh air experiences.
Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola
Note: The Sea to Sky Gondola suffered an act of vandalism in fall 2020. The Gondola is currently closed but is scheduled to reopen sometime in 2021.
The Sea to Sky Gondola opened in May 2014, and became an immediate hit with locals, day-trippers and tourists. Located just 45-minutes from Vancouver, the gondola has opened up a whole new recreational area around the climbing mecca of the Stawamus Chief. The gondola allows those of us who can’t (or won’t) rock-climb the granite cliff face or hike up from the base, to ride up in ease and style on a 10-minute, 885 metre trip to Summit Lodge.
From the Lodge, hikers and visitors are treated to simply stunning views of Howe Sound fjord, the Chief, and the Garibaldi Mountain range. There is a wide variety of activities, sights to see, and spots to just rest and enjoy a cold beer and snack on a hot summer day.
Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge
One of the most popular attractions at the summit is the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. The bridge offers sweeping 360 views of the mountains and Howe Sound fjord. The bridge isn’t overly bouncy, and the drop below isn’t that steep, which is comforting. The views alone are worth the walk. The Bridge is accessible from the Lodge and its impressive Viewing Deck, so you can take advantage of multiple and amazing vistas and angles at any time of day.
Hiking at the Sea to Sky Summit
There are six main hiking trails from Summit Lodge, as well as backcountry trails accessible from the area. The trails range in ability and difficulty, so there is something for everyone. Free guided tours from Summit Lodge are available daily at 11 AM and 2 PM.
If you’re up for more adventure, you can choose to hike the Sea to Summit Trail. This trail begins at the base of the mountain at Shannon Falls, and climbs just over 9 kms to the Chief. Hiking time is estimated at 4-5 hours. Bonus: you can relax on the way down and take the Gondola for only $10.
There are two built walking trails that are easily accessible from Summit Lodge. Both the Panorama and the Spirit walking trails are graded and stroller friendly, offering incredible lookout viewing platforms to enjoy the view and snap some great nature photos.
The Panorama Trail is a 1.6 km loop that includes several viewing points, including the dramatic Chief Overlook Viewing Platform, cantilevered over hundreds of meters of drop. The 400 m Spirit Trail highlights the rich history of the Squamish First Nations, with interpretive displays and views from the Spirit Trail Viewing Platform.
The Summit Lodge is a perfect spot to stop and appreciate the views, enjoy a meal, or a beer and snack after a day of adventure. There is a self-service restaurant and a bar (with table service on weekends), as well as a Tea House with pre-packaged snacks, a Retail Shop, and plenty of washroom facilities. You can choose to eat in or enjoy the view from the patio and viewing deck.
Are dogs allowed on the Sea to Sky Gondola?
Yes, dogs are allowed on the Sea to Sky Gondola. But only on the download, you can’t take your pooch up the mountain. The Sea to Sky Gondola the only mountain gondola in British Columbia that sells a Download Only “Buster the Dog” Pass.
The season pass is $49 ($15 of which goes to the Squamish SPCA). A one-time only ticket is $15 at the Summit ticket window. Hikers taking the Sea to Summit Trail with their pooch can pre-purchase the dog pass, then download with their on-leash dog on a specified gondola cabin.
Sea to Sky Gondola Specs
Gondola Ride: 10 minutes, 885 metres from base to Summit Lodge.
Summer Hours: M – Th – 9:00-17:00 F – Sun – 9:00-21:00
Winter Hours: Th – Sun – 10:00-16:00
Tickets: Family Season Pass: $349 + GST.
Credits: All photos by C. Laroye.
Disclosure: The writer thanks Sea to Sky Gondola for the opportunity to visit this new attraction. As always, our opinions are honest and our own.
Have you visited the Sea to Sky Gondola? Share your experience in the comments.