• Menu
  • Menu

Visiting the Sea to Sky Gondola: Top Things to Do


National Geographic has recently acclaimed the Sea to Sky Highway as one of the planet’s most stunning routes. Moreover, the introduction of the newly built Sea to Sky Gondola has elevated its allure even more.

This thrilling mountain escapade serves excellently as one of the best day trips from Vancouver or as a delightful interlude during the picturesque journey to North America’s premier ski destination, Whistler-Blackcomb.

To simplify matters, I am available to accompany you on this mountain ascent.

So, let’s discover the gondola together as I guide you on the journey to its summit.

The Sea to Sky Gondola climbs Mt. Habrich
Instagram: @seatoskygondola

The Sea to Sky Gondola 

Simply put, the Sea to Sky Gondola Vancouver combines the majestic wonder of Grouse Mountain with the Capilano Suspension Bridge’s exciting sense of adventure.

This popular tourist attraction is an Austrian-style ski gondola located in the community of Squamish, approximately 60 kilometres north of Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway.

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll be whisked 885 meters (2905 feet) up the face of Mount Habrich from base camp — a trip that takes around 10 minutes.

Each gondola Vancouver only holds only eight people but there are 20 cars so you won’t wait long.

The floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape; the turquoise waters of the Howe Sound Fjord below, and the Coast Mountains and their Stawamus Chief above.

Tip #1: don’t forget your camera.

What to See at Sea to Sky Gondola

Basecamp

Located adjacent to the short-term parking area, the base camp is where the gondola loading platform is located – it feels a bit like a Swiss ski resort and the anticipation begins to build.

It’s here where you can purchase tickets, use the washroom, and of course board your gondola. But we recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance, or as part of a package.

The Gondola Ride

Finally, the fun begins.

After you board your custom Swiss-made 8-seater gondola, you’ll be whisked high above the lush coastal rainforest for a 10-minute trip up to the Summit Lodge, 885 meters (or 2905 feet) above.

During the trip, you’ll catch your first glimpses of the glittering waters of Howe Sound, Shannon Falls and the famous Stawamus Chief climbing area via the gondola’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

Summit Lodge

Located at the top of the gondola, the 9000 sq ft. Summit Lodge is where you can relax, grab a drink or bite, and enjoy the world-class views. 

The lodge is made of massive Douglas fir beams, a West-coast-inspired structure with massive floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize views.

Summit Plaza Tours

Located behind the Summit Lodge, this small square serves as the starting point for a variety of trails and also includes a children’s playground and a family-friendly picnic area.

It’s also the meeting point for the free interpretive tours offered daily at 1:00 pm (April to November) or by appointment (December to March).

The 45-minute tours take place along the Spirit Trail and speak to the rich history of the local Skwxwu7mesh (Squamish) First Nation.

You also learn about the ecology and wildlife of the Sea to Sky Corridor. The interpretive tour provides a completely different context to the many sights you will encounter on the gondola trails and viewing decks.

You should do it, after all, it’s included free with every ticket!

Related: Capilano Suspension Bridge vs. Sea to Sky Gondola: Which is Better?

 

Summit Lodge Viewing Deck

The first of the three main viewing points is the Summit Lodge viewing deck just steps from the gondola unloading platform.

This is what you’re here for.

The 5000 sq ft. viewing deck paints a massive panorama of both sea and sky. The deck’s southwest-facing position has spectacular views of the beautiful Sky-Pilot and Co-pilot Mountain peaks.

They’ve also got a fully licensed bar and restaurant with featured events like live music, yoga and wine-pairing dinners.

Sea to Sky Gondola Suspension Bridge

The Sea to Sky Gondola’s Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge connects the Summit Lodge to the Spirit Viewing Platform and the extensive system of trails behind it.

The best part is it’s included in your day pass.

With panoramic views of alpine peaks and valleys, the Stadium and Cheekeye Glaciers and Howe Sound, this crossing pays for the ticket in one swoop!

Fear of heights? Don’t worry.

Sky Pilot Bridge is much sturdier than Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge owing to its shorter length and narrower construction.

The Spirit Viewing Platform

After crossing Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge you’ll hit the Spirit Viewing Platform.

In addition to the same stunning views, the Spirit platform and trail offer interpretive displays teaching you about the surrounding wildlife, landscape and history.

You can learn about the importance of the natural environment to the Skwxwu7mesh (Squamish) First Nation, who’ve lived in the area for time immemorial.

The Chief Overlook Viewing Platform

Perhaps the most spectacular of the viewing platforms is left for last!

The Chief Overlook Viewing Platform is designed to provide visitors with a bird’s eye view of the Stawamus Chief, a 700m high granite dome located adjacent to the town of Squamish.

Located 800 metres, or a 10-15 minute walk down the Panorama Trail from the Summit Lodge. This spectacular viewing platform juts dramatically out over the Cliffside.

In addition to the Chief, you’ll receive stunning views of the Mamquam Valley, Mt. Atwell and ‘The Spit”, a popular windsurfing spot located near Squamish.

?  |  Curious yet? Read great Sea to Sky Gondola reviews from recent ticket buyers.

Sea to Sky Gondola Hours

The Sea to Sky Gondola operates daily throughout the year, except for its closure for annual maintenance from October 23 to November 10, when it will resume operations.

Guest services & basecamp gift shop will continue to operate daily.

This includes the suspension bridge, viewing decks, and most dining options.

Sea to Sky Gondola hours are from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (with the last download at 6:00 pm).

You can lock in your round-trip tickets using the calendar below:

 

Related: How to Get to the Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola Prices

Day tickets include one roundtrip on the Sea to Sky Gondola including access to Summit Lodge, the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, trails, and viewing decks.

Sea to Sky Gondola prices are as follows:

  • Adult: $72.40
  • Senior (65+): $65.05
  • Youth (13-18): $40.90
  • Child (6-12): $27.25
  • Infant (0-5): free

Buying online is recommended especially on weekends as premiums are paid at the ticket windows.

If you click through to our partners at Tiqets using the orange button below, you can read tons of Sea to Sky Gondola ticket buyer reviews and get the best price online.

You’ll also be doing us a huge favour (at no extra cost to you) to help us cover costs and the thousands of hours we’ve put into creating this free resource?

Hiking at Sea to Sky Gondola

Before 2014 the high country and its stunning alpine vistas were only available to experienced hikers with Bear Grylls-like fitness levels.

But the gondola now provides visitors of all ages and abilities with access to a wide array of front-country and back-country trails

I strongly recommended viewing the Sea to Sky trail system map before embarking on your adventure, particularly if you intend to visit the backcountry.

There are two front-country trails which serve to connect the main points of interest in the Sea to Sky Gondola area.

Both trails are relatively level and lack steep climbs and descents. This makes them perfectly accessible to visitors of all ages and fitness levels.

Panorama Trail (Easy/1.6km)

Open year-round, the Panorama trail is a long loop trail that meanders through the old-growth coastal rainforest to connect the Summit Lodge with the stunning Chief Overlook Viewing Platform, which is located halfway down the trail.

Viewpoints are dotted throughout wild Alaskan Blueberry bushes and granite outcrops which are interspersed throughout the trail.

Many come complete with handcrafted cedar benches, allowing for a quick break to admire the alpine vistas.

With an elevation grade of only 8-10%, visitors of all ages and fitness levels should be able to complete the trail in as little as an hour.

Spirit Trail (Easy/400 metres)

Also open year-round, this short trail connects the Summit Lodge to the Spirit Viewing Platform while skipping the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. 

Billed as an interpretive trail, it aims to transport guests on a cultural journey through the history of the land and the local Squamish First Nation.

The trail terminates at the Spirit Viewing Deck providing visitors with stunning views of Howe Sound, Sky Pilot and Goat Ridge.

Back-Country Trails

Since most back-country trails require way more time, it’s recommended to park in the long-term lot located 500m south of basecamp at Darrell Bay.

The inclusion of detailed information on these trails would take us well beyond the scope of this article.

Want to tear up the backcountry? Visit the Sea to Sky Gondola hiking page.

 

Snow Activities

A man snowshoes in the mountains

The Coast Mountains in the Sea to Sky Corridor are home to some of the highest levels of snowfall anywhere in North America.

While Whistler tends to receive most of the hype, you shouldn’t sleep on the sheer wealth of things to do in winter provided by the Sea to Sky Gondola.

The area and surrounding trails are open year-round – counting five machine-groomed trails and a tubing park.

A mother and son snowshoe in the wilderness
Instagram: @seatoskygondola

Try Out Snowshoeing

Guess what the world’s fastest-growing outdoor Winter sport is.

It’s not skiing.

Snowshoeing allows you to be one with nature amid a pristine alpine environment. And it’s also one of the best calorie burners out there.

The area’s variable terrain presents a wide cross-section of snowshoeing opportunities for visitors of all ages and experiences.

There is no additional cost to go snowshoeing, as the activity is included in the price of your day pass.

However, for those who don’t happen to travel around with a set of snowshoes rentals are available on-site for an extra cost.

Rentals

  • Adults (19+): $20.00 per day
  • Youth (13-18): $15.00 per day
  • Children (6-12): $10.00 per day

Extras 

  • Poles: $5.00 per day
a man flies through the Sea to Sky Gondola Tubing Park
Instagram: @seatoskygondola

Hit the Tubing Park

Looking for something a little more family-friendly?

The Sea to Sky Gondola has its own Tubing Park. The park is located next to the Wonderland Lake Loop Trail, a short 5-minute walk from the Summit Lodge.

It costs just $5.00.

The entry fee includes a tube rental and unlimited access to the park during operating hours (closure at 4:30 pm).

*Note that all children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult and must be taller than 105 cm to ride.

Head over to the Sea to Sky Gondola’s Tubing Park page to learn more tubing Park page.

Two women enjoy the Via Ferrata Tour, Squamish BC
Instagram: @seatoskygondola

Via Ferrata Rock Climbing Tours

Another thrilling way to take in the Squamish area’s scenic beauty is the Via Ferrata or “Iron Way” guided tour.

Offered by the Mountain Skills Academy, the exciting no-experience required adventure allows you to ascend the legendary granite walls of the Sea to Sky corridor via a set of metal rungs and a specialized cable system.

A guide will give encouragement (and assistance!) with some interesting facts and stories about the region throughout the tour.

How does it go down?

After a quick hike from Summit Lodge down to the starting point, the fun finally begins. You’re ready to strap yourself in and enjoy the jaw-dropping views while you climb the granite rock face.

Just don’t get too distracted.

Via Ferrata doesn’t require any rock climbing experience or an exceptional level of fitness, thus making it perfectly suitable for children 8+, families and experienced climbers alike.

The hour-long tour both starts and ends at the Summit Lodge, above the gondola platform.

For more information or to reserve your spot click the button below.

The view from the dining room at the Sea to Sky Gondola
Instagram: @seatoskygondola

Sea to Sky Gondola Restaurants

The Basecamp Cafe

Located at sea level next to the Gondola loading platform, the Basecamp Cafe offers hot and cold beverages such as smoothies, soft drinks, water, specialty coffee, and tea.

If you’re hungry the small cafe has sandwiches and baked goods, which can be eaten on the outdoor patio.

The Summit Eatery/Edge Bar

Located at the Summit Lodge, the Summit Eatery/Edge Bar is a casual self-service restaurant and bar that offers sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and salads – including gluten-free options.

The Eatery is fully licensed with local beer, wine, and spirits. These can be enjoyed inside behind the floor-to-ceiling windows, or outside on the stunning the Summit Lodge Viewing Deck.

The Co-Pilot Cafe

Also located at the Summit Lodge, the Co-Pilot Café offers drinks, smoothies, specialty coffees and teas. You also have the option of casual food options such as baked goods, sandwiches and snacks.

Bodhi’s Plaza BBQ (Summit Plaza)

Located outside the Summit Lodge at the Summit Plaza, Bodhi’s Plaza is a family-friendly picnic and bbq area that includes a kid’s playground.

You can choose from casual favourites such as smokies, burgers, fries and ice cream. And don’t worry, the parents can still enjoy a beer or a glass of wine.

 

Events on Sea to Sky Gondola

Step into a world of adventure and discovery with the most exciting worthy events on Sea to Sky Gondola. Here is the list of events for 2024.

  • February 17 – February 19: FAMILY DAY WEEKEND
  • March 14: BABY + ME HIKE
  • Fridays until March 15: TRAILS AND TEA
  • Sundays until March 17: SUNDAY SOCIALS

Sea to Sky Gondola Visitor Tips

1) Purchase tickets online 

I highly recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance for a little peace of mind and to secure the best rates.

2) Visit on a clear day

While the views are always stunning, to maximize your experience you’ll be better off visiting when there is little cloud cover.

Be sure to monitor weather conditions so you can plan your trip accordingly.

3) Pair your visit with a trip to Whistler

The Sea to Sky Gondola is located halfway between Vancouver and Whistler Village. Stopping in along the way is a perfect way to break up your trip. This way you can see two world-class attractions in one trip.

Check out our Vancouver-Whistler travel guide, Whistler things to do article and  restaurant and nightlife guides for additional Whistler tips and tricks

4) Visit outside of peak hours

The Sea to Sky Gondola is a very popular attraction. As a result, it can become quite busy especially on Vancouver summer weekends.

Consequently, you should try your best to visit earlier in the day or during the week if possible. This way you’ll be able to enjoy the peaceful tranquillity of the Coast Mountains away from the tourist hordes.

5) Take advantage of the free tour

There are 30-minute complimentary interpretive tours offered every day at 11:00am along the Spirit Trail. You’ll meet outside the Summit Plaza at the tour meeting sign beside the trail map.

Why not take the opportunity to learn about the rich history of the Squamish First Nation while you take in the views?

After all, it’s free!

*During the Winter months (December-March) the tours are offered by request only.

Related: Are There Sea to Sky Gondola Ticket Discounts?

Sea to Sky Gondola FAQ

Where is the Sea to Sky Gondola?

The Sea to Sky Gondola is located at 36800 Highway 99 in Squamish, BC, which is about a 40-minute drive from Downtown Vancouver.

What is the Sea to Sky Gondola?

The Sea to Sky Gondola is an alpine ski gondola that climbs 885 meters up Mount Habrich to a variety of viewing decks, a suspension bridge, several restaurants, and a network of trails just outside of Squamish, British Columbia.

What time does the Sea to Sky Gondola run?

The Sea to Sky Gondola runs year-round between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm with the last download at 6:00 pm. Except its closure for annual maintenance spanning from October 23 to November 10.

How much does the Sea to Sky Gondola cost?

The Sea to Sky Gondola cost $72.40 for adults, $65.05 for seniors, $40.90 for youths (13-18), $27.25 for children (6-12), and free for infants (0-5).

How tall is the Sea to Sky Gondola?

The Sea to Sky Gondola reaches approximately 885 meters (2,904 feet) tall above sea level, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and coastline.

How long is the Gondola Ride Sea to the sky?

The Sea to Sky Gondola ride spans approximately 10 minutes long, providing passengers with a scenic journey from the base to the summit, showcasing stunning views of the coastal landscape along the way.

Is the Sea to Sky Gondola worth it in the rain?

Yes, Sea to Sky Gondola is worth it in the rain. While it may limit visibility, it still offers a unique experience with misty, atmospheric views. Consider bringing appropriate gear and enjoying the cozy amenities at the summit.

How many people fit in Sea to Sky Gondola?

The Sea to Sky Gondola can fit up to 8 passengers each, providing a comfortable and spacious ride for individuals and groups to enjoy the breathtaking journey to the summit.

Visiting the Sea to Sky Gondola?

In this Sea to Sky Gondola guide, we’ve traversed from the sea to the sky. However, there’s always a chance I might have overlooked something.

Should you require custom advice on visiting Vancouver, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section below or through the Vancouver Planner Facebook page.

Rest assured, we’re prompt in our responses, eh?

Wishing you safe travels!

Julian

I've used online guides on five continents to find the world's greatest travel spots and this is my chance to give back - with insider info on my home, the mighty Vancouver BC!

View stories

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *