Sea to Sky Gondola offers new spectacular views, access to hiking trails (PHOTOS)

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Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish

The $25 million Sea to Sky Gondola at Squamish, wedged between Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls, officially opens today in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.

It opens up the backcountry in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, making hiking routes and unique scenic vistas accessible to individuals of any fitness level as the area was previously only accessible to the most avid of hikers.

Sea to Sky Gondola map
Image: Sea to Sky Gondola

Visitors board a gondola from the attraction’s Base Camp situated just off Highway 99 before the entrance to the provincial park. There are 20 gondola cabins, giving the system a capacity of 600 passengers per hour, with the future capability of adding another 20 cabins should demand warrant it.

From Base Camp, it is a 10 minute ascension to the summit’s elevation of 885 metres above Howe Sound – where guests can enjoy newly created leisure hiking and mountain biking trails, viewing platforms, a 100 metre long suspension bridge, and a 9,000-square-foot lodge with a café, 135-seat indoor restaurant and 235-seat outdoor patio.

Like the Grouse Grind, avid hikers can skip the gondola and take the Sea to Summit Trail to reach the top. It is twice as long as the Grouse Grind, but not nearly as steep. Hikers can also purchase a download ticket for $9.95 instead of doing the trek down the mountain to Base Camp.

Click on image to enlarge.

Sea to Sky Gondola Map Squamish
Image: Sea to Sky Gondola

The attraction has been open to the public for about a week and it is already drawing “very significant interest,” Sea to Sky Gondola general manager Jayson Faulkner told Vancity Buzz.

“We’ve already had thousands of passes sold, and it’s particularly from the Squamish locals as we’ve given them a playground,” says Faulkner. “There was some criticism from locals and vocal activists, and that had to do with misinformation on [the] location and plans for the current project. But people coming in have changed their mind, they’re not opposed to it anymore after riding it.”

“Everything opened six days ago and already we’ve learned a lot… but it will be a continuing process over the next few months. We do not know how people will use the trails and space.”

The Sea to Sky Gondola will also provide those travelling along Highway 99 an additional reason to visit Squamish, besides stopping for gas and snacks en route to Whistler.

The Stawamus Chief has been a major attraction for the town with 50,000 people climbing its granite mountainside each year. Local businesses will also benefit from the opening of the gondola, which is expected to attract 300,000 visitors per year and will employ 100 people from the community.

The gondola and Summit Lodge will be open daily during the summer season, but opening hours will be reduced during the winter season until the Christmas holidays when snowshoeing activities begin.

Sea to Sky Gondola

Location: On Highway 99 – 1 hour from Vancouver; 2 kilometres south of Squamish. A 300 stall parking lot is located next to the Visitor’s Centre at Base Camp.

2014 Operating Hours:

  • Summer (May 17 to October 13, 2014): Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunset Fridays, Saturdays, and Holidays until 9 p.m.)
  • Winter (October 14 to May 31, 2015): Thursday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Sunset Fridays, Saturdays, and Holidays until 9 p.m.; Christmas Holidays from December 19, 2014 to January 4, 2015 open daily)

Tickets:

  • Daily Rates:
      • Adult 19+, $34.95 plus tax; Senior 65+, $32.95 plus tax; Youth 13-18, $22.95 plus tax; Child 6-12, $13.95 plus tax; Child under 6, FREE; Family (2 adults and 2 children), $89.95 plus tax; Download only, $9.95 plus tax
  • 2014 Summer Season Pass (May 16 to October 13, 2014):
    • Adult 19+, $99.00 plus tax; Youth 13-18, $69.95 plus tax; Child 6-12, $39.95 plus tax; Child under 6, FREE; Family (2 adults and 2 children), $249.00 plus tax; Download only, $39.95 plus tax; Buster the dog – download only, $25.00 plus tax

Sea to Sky Gondola Website: http://www.seatoskygondola.com/

To see more photos of the Sea to Sky Gondola, click here.

Photography by Stephen Lam of Pinetree Creative.

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish

Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish
Image: Pinetree Creative

 

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
@iamkennethchan

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