Located just a 45-minute drive from Vancouver, the Gondola has opened up a whole new area around the climbing mecca of the Stawamus Chief. The 10-minute, 885 metre gondola ride from the Base to Summit Lodge permits visitors incapable or unwilling to rock climb the Chief’s granite face, or hike 3-4 hours up from Shannon Falls, to reach breath-taking views and explore the surrounding area with ease.
Kid-Friendly Fun at the Sea to Sky Gondola
Enjoy the View
From Summit Lodge, head to one of the viewing platforms to drink in some of the stunning views of the Howe Sound fjord, Stawamus Chief, and the Garibaldi Mountain Range. Great view opportunities include the Summit Lodge Deck, Chief Overlook, and Spirit Trail viewing platforms.
Cross the Bridge
Take a walk across the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. The bridge can be a bit bouncy, but just hold on tight and don’t look down if you’re afraid of heights. The 360 degree panorama of the mountains and Howe Sound fjord are worth the crossing, as are the photo opportunities. The Bridge is accessible from the Summit Lodge and Viewing Deck, so you can take advantage of multiple views and angles at any time of day.
Talk a Walk or Hike
There are two built walking trails that are easily accessible from Summit Lodge. Both the Panorama and the Spirit walking trails are graded and stroller friendly, offering superb and accessible lookout viewing platforms. The Panorama Trail is a 1.6 km loop that includes several view points, including the dramatic Chief Overlook Viewing Platform, cantilevered over hundreds of meters of drop. The 400 m Spirit Trail highlights the rich history of the Squamish First Nations, with interpretive displays and views from the trail’s viewing platform. For more adventurous hikers, there are eight main hiking trails of varying difficulty leading from the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola.
Have a Snack
The Summit Lodge is a perfect spot to stop for lunch, or enjoy a snack and drink with a view. There’s a self-service restaurant (offering Kids Adventure Meals) and the Edge bar, as well as the Summit Tea House with pre-packaged snacks. After 5 PM on Fridays and Saturdays until October 13th, you can enjoy the Sunset Dinner Table Service in the Summit Lodge. The Retail Shop stocks souvenirs and small items (i.e. sunscreen), and there are plenty of washroom facilities. You can choose to eat in or enjoy the view from the patio and viewing deck.
Can Fido Come?
The Sea to Sky Gondola sells a Download Only “Buster the Dog” Pass. This season pass is $25 ($15 of which goes to the Squamish SPCA). Hikers taking the Sea to Summit Trail with their pooch can pre-purchase the dog pass, then download with their on-leash dog on a specified gondola cabin.
There’s an App for That
– You can download the free Sea to Sky Gondola App on your iPhone to keep up-to-date on events, trail maps, and weather.
A family day ticket costs $89.95 +GST, and a family season pass is $249 +GST, valid until the end of summer season on November 2, 2014. The Gondola closes for maintenance from November 3-26th, and opens again for the 2015 winter season on November 27th.
Photo Credits: C. Laroye
Claudia lives in Vancouver. She's the mother of two teenage boys, and has a thirst for travel, chocolate, and pineapple margaritas. She writes and blogs as thetravellingmom.ca, offering a modern mom's guide to family travel sanity. She is much too active on Twitter as @travelling_mom.