Embracing the winter elements can often be as fun as escaping them. Thankfully, as a result of the bounty of adventure on our doorstep, taking the decision to step outside is an easy one. Whether you have toddlers, teens or family visiting from out of town, there’s a holiday activity for everyone.
Bald Eagle watching
For an inexpensive activity with universal appeal, Brackendale’s world-famous eagle watching is a must. Bald eagles arrive as early as November and can stay as late as March, with their numbers peaking in December and January. The best viewing spot is Eagle Run Park (accessed off Government Road in Brackendale).
Ramp up the adventure with the Eagle Viewing Float by Sunwolf Rafting. Rafters float down the Cheakamus River enjoying amazing scenery, uninterrupted views and remarkable access to the eagles. Experienced guides talk you through the surrounding flora and fauna, as well as the eagle’s lifecycle and the salmon it depends on. Finally, return to Sunwolf for a hearty bowl of steaming stew and homemade dessert beside the fire. For details phone 604-898-1537.
With an average annual snowfall of 36 feet, Callaghan Valley has the reputation as one of the wildest playgrounds in the Canadian Pacific Northwest.
It’s ideal for snowy, family-friendly adventure, and with family passes and equipment rentals on-site, you needn’t break the bank before hitting the slopes.
There are over 130 kilometres of cross-country trails through meadows and forests, and even dog-friendly trails for four-legged family members.
Adventurous types can head out to Journeyman Lodge in the Solitude Valley. This full-service backcountry chalet set deep in the heart of Whistler’s Callaghan wilderness offers overnight accommodation, gourmet meals, a wood-fired sauna and access to even more adventure. For details visit www.callaghancountry.com.
Tube park & storytime
Escape the grey, wintry weather and ascend the Sea to Sky Gondola into snow-capped peaks, alpine forest and crisp mountain air. Once at the top there is much to do this holiday season.
Inside the cozy Summit Lodge are scheduled seasonal events including carol singing, family sing-alongs and story times with hot chocolate and cookies for little ones.
Outdoors, the gentle 1.6-kilometre Panorama loop offers incredible views and a perfect snowshoe hike for all abilities.
For those with energy to burn, try the tube park and for more advanced outdoor enthusiasts, bring your skis, skins, snowshoes and ice axes, and get ready to explore the breathtaking backcountry terrain and surrounding peaks and gullies.
If food and drink feature highly during your holiday season, there are also scheduled fondue dinners and wine pairing events. Visit seatoskygondola.com for details.
This winter sport is accessible for all ages and abilities, with local trails ranging from easy to significantly challenging. Brandywine Falls is a two-kilometre roundtrip trek just 25 minutes north of Squamish.
With trails that are easy, wide and flat, it’s suitable for everyone.
Deep snow can be accessed almost right away and it won’t be long before you are looking out onto the thunderous falls from the observation platform.
Trails around Alice Lake are also excellent options. Up the adventure with the Sea to Sky Trail to Bungee Bridge – a moderate six-kilometre roundtrip accessed through the Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.
At the three-kilometre mark is the bridge itself – a spectacular sight spanning the Cheakamus River.
On a clear day you might also spot Black Tusk and the distant Daisy Lake.
The more daring may enjoy hiking within the Garibaldi Provincial Park. A challenging yet spectacular 11-kiolmetre hike to Elfin Lakes offers pristine conditions and beautiful views.
A five-kilometre trip to Red Heather Hut might be enough of a climb, though if you wish to continue, a cabin at Elfin Lakes will shelter you comfortably for the night. Remember to always come prepared for sudden changes in the weather.
Local shopping events
If you haven’t finished (or started!) your Christmas shopping yet, don’t panic. Christmas craft events offer a great opportunity to shop locally and support the incredible local talent here in Squamish.
Two dates for your diary are the Squamish Farmers’ Market’s Winter Market on Dec. 17 and the Brackendale Art Gallery’s Annual Christmas Craft Fair on Dec. 18 with live music, refreshments and a cozy fireplace.
For details visit squamishfarmersmarket.com and brackendaleartgallery.com.
Ride the Polar Express
The Polar Express takes off from the West Coast Railway Heritage Park on weekends until Dec. 18. Volunteers play characters from the popular Christmas movie and serve cookies and hot chocolate.
The journey ends at the North Pole with holiday crafts, a bouncy castle, miniature train ride and Santa and Mrs. Claus available for photos.
Movie night & mini village
The Britannia Mine Museum is holding a host of Christmassy family fun throughout December, including a movie night featuring Elf on Dec. 16 and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 17.
Step back in time with a miniature Victoria village, complete with snow-dusted streets and tiny shops, A Christmas Carol characters and a tiny North Pole with Santa’s industrious elves.