You Can Spot Hundreds of Bald Eagles in Squamish Right Now

Bald eagles in Squamish, BC

Photo credit: Mountain Skills Academy and Adventures

Did you know that Squamish is home to one of the world’s largest populations of wintering bald eagles? Each year over 1000 eagles spend the winter hanging out along the Squamish River. The record for the most eagles was set back in 1994 with 3,769 eagles counted! Here are the best places to spot eagles in Squamish.

Eagle Run Dyke

The most popular place to see the eagles is at Eagle Run dyke in the Brackendale neighbourhood. Volunteers from the Eagle Watch program are on-site every Saturday and Sunday in January from 10 am until 3 pm. They help visitors spot the eagles and answer questions about these majestic birds. They also have powerful spotting scopes you can use to get a close-up view.

If you visit when the volunteers aren’t around, you can still get lots of info about the eagles. There’s an interpretive display about the eagles and their relationship with salmon. The Eagle Watch volunteers also maintain an eagle count board that’s updated with the latest info about eagles spotted as well as other wildlife activity.

The view from Eagle Run dyke in Squamish, BC

The view form Eagle Run Dyke. Photo credit: Ian Robertson/Tourism Squamish

 

Tenderfoot Hatchery

Drive up the Paradise Valley Road north of town to the Tenderfoot Hatchery. You can take a self-guided tour and look for eagles around the spawning channels.

 

The Confluence of the Cheakamus and Cheekeye Rivers

Another great spot to see bald eagles is where the Cheekeye River flows into the Cheakamus River. To get there, follow the Squamish Valley Road north to a bridge. The confluence is just upstream. There isn’t a lot of parking and you need to respect private property in the area.

 

Mamquam River

The eagles love the artificial spawning channels on the Mamquam River. The best place to view them is from the dyke off Centennial Road on the south side of the river. 

 

Squamish Estuary

There are lots of bald eagles in the marshlands where the Squamish River drains into Howe Sound. You can view the eagles from the road or explore the flat trails. As a bonus, the Squamish Spit at the end of the estuary is the best place to get great photos of the Stawamus Chief. To get there, follow Bailey Street from downtown Squamish, then turn left onto Spit Road. 

 

Take an Eagle Float Tour

In the winter, Squamish’s river rafting companies shift into eagle watching mode. Book a tour with Canadian Outback Rafting or Squamish Rafting Company to get an up-close look at the eagles from the water. You’ll float down the river while a guide helps you spot eagles. If you’re looking for unique photos, an eagle float is the place to get them.

Eagle float tour in Squamish, BC

Eagle Float Tour. Photo credit: Squamish Rafting Company

 

Go on a Private Walking Tour

Some of the best eagle viewing in Squamish is on private land and is closed to the public. If you want exclusive access you can book a walking tour with Mountain Skills Academy and Adventures. Their expert guides will help you spot the eagles, plus provide info about the local forest, wildlife, and First Nations community. There’s even hot chocolate and snacks by a fire pit afterward.

 

Attend the Brackendale Eagle Festival

Hosted by the Brackendale Art Gallery, this festival is in its 34th year and runs throughout January. It includes concerts, art, lectures, and group tours. The annual official eagle count also occurs during the festival, but it’s conducted by trained scientists and isn’t open to the public.

 

Eagle Viewing Tips and Etiquette

  • Bring binoculars, a zoom lens or a telescope to get a closer look.
  • Don’t use drones. They scare the eagles away from their crucial feeding and nesting areas.
  • Look in the trees. The eagles often roost in tall trees so they can survey their surroundings.
  • Early morning and mid-afternoon are the best times to spot the eagles. They tend to rest in the middle of the day.
  • Give the eagles lots of space. They need room to feed in order to survive through the tough winter.
  • Watch the eagles from dykes and river banks on public land. Don’t go down into the river bed as that is critical eagle and salmon habitat. Respect private property.
  • Keep your dog on a leash. They can harass and chase the eagles and other wildlife. 

 

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