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.
Squamish is located dab in the middle of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, halfway between Whistler and Vancouver.