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Things to Do in Squamish

Squamish isn't nicknamed the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada without reason. This former lumber mill town has transformed itself into an outdoor mecca with a rare combination of mountain and water sports made possible by its dramatic location amid the Coastal Mountains at the northern end of Howe Sound.

The Stawamus Chief, known locally as the Chief, is a massive granite dome with over 300 established climbing routes. Hikers can also tackle steep trails on the mountain’s backside to summit the three distinct peaks. More hiking options await in a series of nearby provincial parks, including Shannon Falls, Murrin and Garibaldi. With over 600 mountain biking trials, this activity can often overshadow the opportunities at the nearby Whistler Bike Park, both in terms of terrain variety and difficulty variation.

Warm, sunny weather also creates predictable wind, which helps make the Squamish Spit one of Canada’s top kiteboarding and wind surfing destinations. There is also plenty of nearby whitewater kayaking and, for the less adventurous, some of the best bald eagle viewing on the planet.

The town itself has undergone plenty of changes in recent years. Since both the pulp and saw mills closed, Squamish lost its main industry but soon became a trendy place to live for both Whistler and Vancouver residents looking to escape the high living costs of those respective communities. The population is now close to 20,000, but the town has all the amenities of a much larger community due to its role as the main service hub for smaller towns like Whistler, Pemberton and Lillooet.
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Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
7 Tours and Activities

Squamish’s Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is home to one of British Columbia’s most iconic landmarks: The Chief. The popular rock­-climbing and hiking destination towers 2,300 feet (700 meters) above Squamish and is the second­-largest granite monolith (freestanding piece of rock) in the world. Though it might be hard to believe from looking at the steep rock face, hiking to the top is a relatively moderate, two­-hour hike. The Chief doesn’t get as much snow during the winter as the other nearby mountains and so enjoys a fairly long hiking season. The summit is usually clear of snow in the early spring, making The Chief a great warm­up hike for the summer months ahead. There are three peaks, each accessible from the single trailhead. You can hike up each one individually, or summit all three if you’re feeling ambitious. Hikers should be prepared with sturdy footwear, clothing, food and water.

In addition to being a popular hiking destination, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is a rock-climber’s paradise. There are hundreds of granite walls and multi-­pitch crack climbing routes, the most well­-known being The Apron and The Grand Wall. Even the most advanced rock climbers come from all over the world to be challenged during the busy summer season by these routes.

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Porteau Cove Provincial Park
12 Tours and Activities

Stretching over 56 hectares of Howe Sound, North America’s southernmost fjord, the Porteau Cove Provincial Park makes a tranquil retreat from nearby Vancouver, and is renowned for its diverse array of marine life. Taking its name from the French ‘Porte d’Eau’ or ‘Water’s Gate’, the protected area offers a serene expanse of ocean, fringed by a pebble beach and dotted with campsites, swimming spots and lookout points.

While holidaymakers come for the glittering waters and dramatic sunsets, the star attraction lies beneath the ocean – an underwater playground for scuba divers, with artificial reefs, sunken shipwrecks and a diver’s float providing habitats for a colorful population of starfish, anemone and octopus. Windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing and boat tours are also popular activities.

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