New Sea to Sky Gondola Opening Outside Vancouver

Photo courtesy of Sea to Sky Gondola

Photo courtesy of Sea to Sky Gondola

The little town of Squamish, about an hour’s drive north of Vancouver, is perhaps best known as a pit stop on the way to the slopes and trails of Whistler.  But that all may change in just a few months.

The new Sea to Sky Gondola is officially scheduled to open in mid May 2014, putting Squamish firmly on the tourist map.  The enormous gondola, situated on a strip of land between the famous Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and Shannon Falls, will carry visitors from sea level to a height of 885 meters – climbing into high alpine country in a quick 10-minute ride.

Up top, there’s a lot more than just beautiful vistas to enjoy. Finishing touches are being put on an entire adventure facility high in the Coast Mountains.  The centrepiece is a 9,000-square-foot lodge, where visitors can enjoy a beer or bite to eat while soaking up the stunning views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains.

From the lodge, a network of gentle walking trails spread out over the mountain.  The Panorama Trail winds 1.6 kilometres through woods, crossing cedar bridges along the way and leading to a truly vertigo-inducing viewpoint.  A special platform cantilevers over the side of the mountain, hanging hundreds of metres above the ground.  Meanwhile, the 400-metre Spirit Trail offers an interpretive account of the local First Nations history in the region.

The facility also features a 100-metre-long suspension bridge (for comparison, the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver is 140 metres long).  The wobbly bridge spans a deep gully, offering 360-degree views of Howe Sound far below and the dizzying alpine scenery.

Once up top, hardier adventurers can also access some serious backcountry trails into more rugged terrain.  Options range from rewarding day hikes to multi-day excursions along routes like the Sky Pilot Valley Trail, Skyline Trail and Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail.

The Sea to Sky Gondola is slated to open in mid May 2014.  Adult tickets are $34.95.

What do you think about a new gondola in Squamish? Let us know below. 

For more updates on Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.

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5 Responses to New Sea to Sky Gondola Opening Outside Vancouver

  1. Vishva

    Struggling town after all the trees have been cut down. They are a model for how to pimp yourself out.

    The gondola sounds harmless but have you seen it!? Ugly nasty brutish piece of disneyfication/shill tourist trap mess on the side of the Chief. Gripe gripe but allow this and you can start recollecting the past via postcards while standing in a parking lot paved over paradise.

  2. Mindwanderings

    What a shame to turn this area into another tourist trap. It will spoil the beauty of Shannon Falls and the challenge of hiking the Chief. So sad everything is for the almighty dollar these days!

  3. Gary

    Five bucks will get you ten that the two naysaying gripers don’t live in Squamish. It’s not located on the Chief, you have to be looking for them to spot the towers, the base is situated in an old gravel pit (not what I view as paved over paradise) and it doesn’t change the hike up the back of the Chief one bit.

    The gondola accesses a completely different area, didn’t affect any of the rock climbs directly under it and will open up a huge new swath of potential back country recreational fun. All the back country recreationists (volunteer trail builders, climbers, hikers and bikers) I know are gleeful at the thought. And it’ll allow my dad to get up there to have a look. It might even improve the Chief hike as some of the hordes will undoubtably take the gondola instead.

    This will be nothing but good for Squamish and in a few years people will be laughing at the doom and gloomers, but they’ll find another cause to fret and moan about I’m sure.

    • Rom

      Thank you, Gary for your post. You save me some time. I came here from Europe. I’ve heard stories about destruction of the mountain million times. All I can say, go there to see how beautifully they are still standing with tons of useful infrastructure around. Here only those who don’t have to be at work everyday, had a chance to see some of the local beauty surrounding Vancouver. Those mountain are stretching for a more than a thousand kilometres. If they don’t like the gondolas, walk different direction, there are mountains everywhere you look.

  4. Richard Keirin

    The same concept was applied in Lynn Canyon with the difference that it’s without any admission and even the parking is free. But that’s not my point. The point is that people don’t perceive the suspended bridge as the main attraction. It’s the sheer beauty of the whole area and the forest. And the same is probably going to happen here. As Gary points out, it’ll open the landscape to people and do more good than bad.