Squamish is called the eagle capital of the world and it is here, at the Brackendale Eagle Reserve or Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park, where the largest congregation of wintering bald eagles in North America can be found. Accordingly, the best time to visit the reserve is from late November to late January. During those winter months the eagles get attracted to the area due to the spawning salmons in the river and gather in huge numbers to feast on the fish carcasses. In fact, the Brackendale Eagle Reserve holds a world record from 1994, when 3,769 bald eagles were counted in a single day – that’s more eagles than there are residents of Brackendale.
To protect the eagles and their habitat, the Brackendale Eagle Reserve doesn’t allow for any recreational activities, such as camping or biking. The spectacular eagle viewing opportunities that can be had from the viewing areas or from designated rafts floating gently down the river, are the one and only thing visitors come here for. On good days, you will be able to see hundreds of birds roosting, perched on trees and soaring high in the sky. The low river valley set against the rugged Tantalus Mountain Range is their ideal habitat and to get their guaranteed daily pound of fish, they return to British Columbia’s Pacific coast every winter.
The Brackendale Eagle Reserve can be found about 70 kilometers north of Vancouver on the west side of the Squamish River. The best months to see the bald eagles are December and January and in January, a month long eagle festival with photography contests, art shows and tours are held by the Brackendale Art Gallery. The most popular viewing area is located on the municipal dyke right in between Squamish and Brackendale - don’t forget your binoculars!