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Recommended This Week

Driving Destinations around Squamish

Squamish is located in an amazingly good location in the Sea to Sky corridor.  There are dozens of fantastic driving destinations around Squamish, and many are just a short drive away.  Several beautiful waterfalls, such as Shannon Falls, Brandywine Falls and Alexander Falls require little or no hiking.  Many other places you can drive right to them, throw down a tent and set up a campfire.  Squamish is a great place to live and an astoundingly central place to begin a road trip or just a wonderful day out on an adventure.

Shannon Falls Provincial Park in SquamishShannon Falls towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC.  The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old growth forest to get to the base of the falls.  From your car to the viewpoint takes only about four minutes, however the trail continues a bit further to a higher viewpoint (five minutes higher).  You can even continue along the trail and join with the Stawamus Chief trail which goes to the three summits of the Chief.  Shannon Falls Provincial Park has a concession stand as well as an information centre next to the parking area.  This parking area is day use only, so if you are hoping to camp overnight in the area, you have to park at the Stawamus Chief parking lot, just a 1 minute drive north of the Shannon Falls lot.  If you are planning to hike the Stawamus Chief, the Shannon Falls parking lot is arguably a better place to start from.  You can take a look at Shannon Falls and then take the connecting trail to join onto the trail to the Chief.  This route is only slightly longer, yet much more scenic.

Why should you drive to Shannon Falls in Squamish?

Shannon Falls Provincial Park is about as convenient and easy as it gets to see an amazing waterfall.  Visible from the Sea to Sky Highway, Shannon Falls crashes surprisingly huge and loud.  The viewpoint to see the falls is very close and you can almost feel the ground shudder from the enormous volume of water cascading down in front of you.  Shannon Falls Provincial Park can be your starting point for both the Stawamus Chief and the Upper Shannon Falls trail.

More on Driving to Shannon Falls Provincial Park in Squamish >>

Porteau Cove Provincial Marine ParkPorteau Cove Provincial Marine Park is a beautiful little stop between Vancouver and Squamish.  Located 19 kilometres south of Squamish, it is an ideal, scenic and quick pit-stop along the Sea to Sky Highway.  There are public washrooms located just a off the highway.  The marine park is centred around  a wonderful pier with viewing platforms that jut out and above the ocean of this majestic and enormous Canadian fjord - the most southerly fjord in North America. Porteau Cove is well known in the Scuba Diving community for amazing diving.  In fact a ship was purposely sunk in the area to increase the already amazing diving appeal. Much like Lighthouse Park further down the Sea to Sky Highway, you can visit Porteau Cove during any type of weather and be glad you stopped.  The views are sensational and the enormous pier takes you right out, far above the ocean.  Porteau Cove is very easy to find.  Just keep your eye out for the highway sign directing you to the turnoff.  If driving from Vancouver the Porteau Cove turnoff is 41 kilometres from Vancouver if you zero your odometer on the Lions Gate Bridge.  If driving from Squamish, zero your odometer at Cleveland Ave and drive south on the Sea to Sky Highway and you will see the Porteau Cove entrance on your right in 19 kilometres.

Why should you drive to Porteau Cove near Squamish?

Porteau Cove Provincial Marine Park is convenient and easy to stop on the Sea to Sky Highway.  The pier is wonderful to see as it stretches far out and above the ocean.  Washrooms and some some interesting things to read on various interpretive murals make this a must see stop on the way to or from Squamish and Vancouver.

More on Driving to Porteau Cove Provincial Marine Park South of Squamish >>

Whistler Bungee BridgeWhistler's Bungee Bridge is a very convenient and beautiful stop on the way to or from Whistler from Squamish.  Just 35 minutes north of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway, then just a 3 kilometre logging road takes you right to the stairs up to this amazing bridge.  Open year-round and surprisingly accessible, even in the snowy winter months, thousands of cars drive by every day and never take a look. With so many sights on the Sea to Sky Highway to see, the Whistler Bungee Bridge is one of the nicer and certainly one of the most convenient to see. The Whistler Bungee Bridge is part of the fantastic Sea to Sky Trail.  This 180 kilometre walking, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing trail, cuts right through Whistler.  This non-motorized, multi-use trail extends from Squamish, through Whistler, north through Pemberton and all the way to D'Arcy.  Pieced together over the years, the Sea to Sky Trail saw a frenzy of construction recently and is now complete throughout Whistler.

Why should you drive to the Whistler Bungee Bridge?

Whistler's Bungee Bridge is a wonderful, convenient, yet overlooked sight to see on the way to or from Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway.  Just a 5 minute drive from the highway gets you to this absurdly elaborate bridge over the Cheakamus River far below.

More on Driving to the Whistler Bungee Bridge North of Squamish >>

Lighthouse ParkLighthouse Park is an extraordinarily little known piece of paradise, so close to to Vancouver as to see its tall buildings, yet immersed into a dramatically beautiful coastal rainforest.  A wonderful network of trails winds throughout massive Douglas-fir trees and Western Red Cedars as well as golden Arbutus trees stretching toward the ocean.  There are so many great aspects of this hike.  The first is the beautiful drive to get there.  Marine Drive spectacularly hugs the rugged and steep coast of West Vancouver.  Another is the wonderful variation of trails.  They stretch out in several directions in the thick forest, each leading to breathtaking ocean viewpoints.  Another is the variety of wildlife.  Along with the majestic trees there are the occasional bald eagles, oystercatchers, seagulls, shore crabs, hermit crabs and starfish, among quite a lot else.  Another is the seemingly endless array of picnic tables and even better, rock outcrops at the edge of the Georgia Strait and Pacific Ocean beyond.

Why should you drive to Lighthouse Park near Squamish?

Lighthouse Park does require a short, 2 kilometre hike to the lighthouse and ocean views, however, it is such an amazing place to visit that it feels like just a driving destination.  Most Squamish residents haven't heard of Lighthouse Park as it runs along Marine Drive, parallel to the Sea to Sky Highway.  If your drive to or from Vancouver is less hurried and geared towards seeing some amazing sights, then Lighthouse Park is a must-see.  Arguably one of the nicest ocean-side parks in Vancouver, it sits across from the wildly popular Stanley Park, yet is far more serene and the sunsets are unbelievable.

More on Driving to Lighthouse Park South of Squamish >>

Alexander Falls Provincial ParkAlexander Falls is a relatively unknown waterfall less than an hours drive north of Squamish.  The falls are very beautiful, impressively huge, and very easily viewable.  In fact, you can drive right the nice viewing platform built just before the 2010 Olympics .  The falls are just before Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley, halfway to Whistler from Squamish.  The large parking area and viewing platform are located on the edge of a cliff across the gorge from the falls.  Just before the turnoff to Callaghan Lake you will see a sign for Alexander Falls.  The Callaghan Valley is a very nice detour on the way to or from Whistler.  A large highway sign about 20 minutes south of Whistler directs you to the Callaghan Valley and Whistler Olympic Park.  Used for the 2010 Olympics for several events, now Whistler Olympic Park is used for cross country skiing in the winter and for site seeing in the summer.  The route from the Sea to Sky Highway to Alexander Falls is a great place to spot bears in the spring, summer and fall.  In the winter the route is snowplowed making Alexander Falls easy to access year-round.  Alexander Falls is dramatically large at 43 metres/141 feet, and one among many beautiful waterfalls in the Sea to Sky to see.  Others include Shannon Falls in Squamish, Brandywine Falls just south of the Callaghan Valley on the Sea to Sky Highway, Rainbow Falls in Whistler and Nairn Falls north of Whistler.  If don't mind a challenging hike, High Falls Creek is a beautiful hike to some impressive waterfalls.  If you are ambitious for a hike there is a trail that starts on the other side of Alexander Falls near the turnoff to Callaghan Lake.  You can also reach the top of the falls by doing a little bushwhacking from the viewpoint.

Why should you drive to Alexander Falls near Squamish?

Alexander Falls is massive and beautiful.  It's convenient and easy - you can drive right to it with no hiking involved.  It's near the end of a beautiful drive up the Callaghan Valley.  In the months without snow you will see multiple bears along the road in the last couple kilometres before Alexander Falls.  There are bear watching companies that specifically drive to this area on their tours.  Seeing Alexander Falls can be combined with other sights such as Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Lake (4x4 required in previous years, however partly graded in 2013), and Madeley Lake.

More on Driving to Alexander Falls North of Squamish >>

Northair MineNorthair Mine is a surreal little world of colourful murals on abandoned cement foundations, surrounded by an astoundingly tranquil little lake in a secluded forest.  Just a short logging road off of the Callaghan Valley Road takes you to this unusual little abandoned mine.  You would have driven by the turnoff if you have been to Whistler Olympic Park, which is just a couple kilometres away.  Northair Mine gets its name from the Vancouver based mining company the Northair Group.  The mine was in production from 1976 and extracted 5 tons of gold before being abandoned in 1982.  Northair Mine is tricky to find and even when you near it, the turnoff is not obvious.  However, once you find it, it is quite a sight.  The area that encompasses Northair Mine is huge.  About 2 kilometres long, edged by a cliff on one side and a beautiful lake on the other.  A nice, smooth gravel road runs through the area, along the edge of the lake toward Whistler Olympic Park.  Another gravel road runs through the massive cement foundations of what must have been quite a large building.  Beautiful graffiti art covers some of the cement pilings and scattered remnants indicate that this skeleton of a building has been home to its share of gatherings since being abandoned.

Why should you drive to the Northair Mine near Squamish?

Northair Mine is a bizarre little world of crumbling foundations and idyllic lake buried in the middle of a forest.  You can wander around for hours seeing one bizarre thing after another.  It is up in the beautiful Callaghan Valley where road-side bear sightings are frequent and Whistler Olympic Park is nearby.  Also, there are a few, relatively unknown lakes and hiking trails to visit in the area.  Alexander Falls is very close.  Madeley Lake and Callaghan Lake are nearby as well.  The hiking trails to Ring, Conflict and Cirque Lake all start from Callaghan Lake Provincial Park.

More on Driving to Northair Mine North of Squamish >>

Callaghan Lake Provincial Park

Callaghan Lake Provincial Park is a relatively untouched wilderness of rugged mountainous terrain.  The valley walls were formed by relatively recent glaciation.  Evidence of this can be seen in the considerable glacial till and slide materials visible across the lake.  Around the lake you will see talus slopes, flat rock benches, cirques, hanging valleys, tarns, waterfalls and upland plateaus with bogs.  The wildlife that reside in the area include bobcats, cougars, coyotes, minks, wolverines, wolves, bears, deer, mountain goats and occasionally moose and grizzly bears. Callaghan Lake Provincial Park is not really a hiking destination but more of a drive to campsite on a beautiful lake, and gateway to some beautiful intermediate hikes.  The campsite is small and looks a bit like a parking lot with about 6 spots to put up a tent.  There is a proper boat launch at the campsite and the lake is large and beautiful to paddle.  Surrounded by snowy mountains and nice rock outcrops the lake is good for fishing. The hiking trails are minimal here due to the steepness and deep forest surrounding the lake.

Aerial View of Callaghan Lake

At the far end of the lake the rustic and steep Cirque Lake trail runs along the side of the crashing waterfall all the way to the breathtaking Cirque Lake.  If you are motivated and have a canoe this is an amazing area to hike in mostly untouched wilderness where the alpine allows for hiking in several directions to countless lakes and glaciers beyond.  The Callaghan Lake campsite is free to use and is notorious for being a bit rowdy during summer weekends, which does make it a friendly and fun place.

Why should you drive to Callaghan Lake near Squamish?

Callaghan Lake Provincial Park is located in the wilder and an quieter side of the valley, across from Garibaldi Provincial Park.  The area is, by comparison, untouched.  Trails to places such as Cirque Lake and Ring and Conflict Lakes have to have flagging tape on the trail as the trails are hardly worn down by hikers enough to follow.  In the past, the logging road to Callaghan Lake was absurdly bad with potholes and deep washouts.  Though it was graded in 2013, the fact that it was impassible to most cars in the past kept it only visited by 4x4's until recently.  You will find it busy and sometimes loud on some summer weekends, if you have a canoe, you can disappear into the wonderful wilderness and find a piece of paradise to put up your tent.

More on Driving to Callaghan Lake Provincial Park near Squamish >>

Whistler and Garibaldi Park Hiking Guide and Map

Previous Squamish Driving DestinationsMore Squamish Driving Destinations

 

 

 

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