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Hiking the Stawamus Chief, Squamish (Picture BC photo)

Hiking the Stawamus Chief, Squamish

(Picture BC photo)

Squamish

Geography

Squamish is located at the north end of Howe Sound, North America's southernmost fjord, in the Squamish River Valley.

Occupying an area of 106.1sq km/41sq mi, this district municipality sits on the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Highway 99) between Vancouver and Whistler.

It takes about one hour to drive 69km/43mi north to Squamish from downtown Vancouver, or 75 minutes from Vancouver International Airport (YVR), a distance of 81km/51mi. From Whistler heading south to Squamish, it's 60km/37mi for a 45-minute drive. Some five-million visitors travel the Sea-to-Sky Highway each year, enjoying the awe-inspiring scenery.

Other nearby communities along the Sea-to-Sky Highway include Horseshoe Bay, Britannia Beach, Lions Bay, and Pemberton.

Squamish Landscape

The spectacular Coast Mountains scenery around Squamish developed during the end of the last ice age some 10,000 years ago. Receding glaciers left behind the crystal lakes, subalpine meadows, and volcanic mountains that abound in nearby provincial parks such as Garibaldi Provincial Park.

The most visible landmark in Squamish is the Stawamus Chief, the second-largest granite monolith in North America, which offers numerous rock-climbing opportunities at a height of 700m/2,300ft.

Squamish's terrain abounds with hiking trails, lush forests, and monumental waterfalls like Shannon Falls, the third-highest waterfall in British Columbia at 335m/1,099ft.

The Squamish River empties into Howe Sound's north end, and has several tributaries, including the Cheakamus, Elaho, and Mamquam. Fishing, river rafting, kayaking, and bird watching (including the famous Brackendale eagles) are popular activities along these rivers.

Climate and Weather

Squamish has a moderate British Columbia coastal climate. Average daily high temperatures hit 24°C/75°F in July, and go to 2.9°C/37°F in January. The average annual rainfall is 213cm/84in, and the average annual snowfall is 235cm/93in.