This recently-launched gondola offers astounding views of the Howe fjord, Sky Pilot mountain, Diamond Head Mountain and the mighty Stawamus Chief. Viewing platforms and the deck of the Summit Lodge reveal exactly why the Sea-to-Sky Highway is one of Canada’s most beautiful drives. The gondola rises 849 metres to the summit, where visitors can walk on well-marked, comfortably graded paths to various lookouts. Overlooked by the twin peaks of Sky Pilot, the 90-metre long, 65-metre high suspension bridge is the most picturesque I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. BC coastal scenery at its very best.
Length of Trip : Half day
Best time to go : Open year round
Wheelchair friendly : Yes. Please call ahead for special requests.
Family friendly : Yes
Where to eat : The Summit Restaurant and Edge Bar – the only place where you can dine 885 metres above Howe Sound fjord – has a huge patio where you can enjoy BC craft beer and wine. It is open until 5:30pm during the week and 9:30pm on weekends. There is also a Sunset Table Service in operation over the summer. For a lighter snack, grab something at the adjacent Summit Tea House.
Where to Stay : You’ll likely be staying overnight either in Vancouver (a one hour drive away) or Whistler (40 minutes away). Here are accommodation options in Whistler. We recommend staying with our trusted partner Holiday Inn when visiting Vancouver.
Getting There : The Sea to Sky Gondola is located two kilometres south of Squamish, directly off the “Sea to Sky Highway”, Provincial route 99. Note: if you’re driving in from Whistler, you’ll need to turn around at Shannon Falls Provincial Park. Squamish is a one-hour’s drive from Vancouver, although budget extra time to stop and appreciate the stellar views along the highway. Bus services can drop you off in Squamish, with the gondola a short five minute taxi away.
Note from Robin : In 2011, a proposal was presented to build a $22 million, Austrian-inspired mountain gondola on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, overlooking the imposing Stawamus Chief, and located just before the town of Squamish. While climbers from around the world challenge the imposing rock, the view from atop the Chief makes it a Bucket List day-hike (which is why I included it in my book). Plans to develop the attraction were met with some concern, as locals worried about tourists crowding the Chief, robbing hikers and climbers of their hard-earned reward. These concerns were alleviated when four different authorities gave the project its blessing. Three years later, the Sea-to-Sky Gondola has opened for business, and it’s getting my blessing too. Bypassing the main hiking routes and maintaining the unspoiled, hard-earned views from atop the Chief, the gondola is a beautiful addition to the region. There are plans for more trails, mountain bike and climbing routes, with snowshoe and cross-country trails in winter. Serious hikers can use the gondola to access backcountry trails, or even forgo the ascent and hike up the ridge, with a $10 download ticket to return to the free parking lot. I bumped into some folks who had done just that and it took them 2.5 hours to hike up.