Squamish, British Columbia hosts the world's largest gathering of
Bald Eagles every winter. The raptors feast on salmon beside the Squamsih River and its
Just north of Vancouver and only 50km south of the world class
Whistler Ski Resort, our planet's largest gatherings of Bald Eagles gets underway in Squamish, British
Based on population estimates, up to 5% of the world's bald eagles
winter in this very accessible area. From one viewing space, often dozens of Eagles can be
seen, and a short walk in the right direction will allow you to see many more.
For decades, thousands of majestic Bald Eagles have been gathering on
the riverbanks of the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers, feasting on the ample salmon that
either did not quite make it to the spawning channels, or have accomplished their life's
goal, and thus have met their subsequent demise.
Working to preserve their energy in the winter months, eagles will eat
up to two pounds of this high value protein every day.
The highlight of the eagle-viewing period is the annual Bald Eagle
Count, which will take place at the beginning of January and is headquartered out of the Brackendale Art Gallery.
Using consistent methodology, a count of the eagles in the area has
been kept on this weekend every year, since 1986. In 1994 a world record 3,769 eagles were
counted within a few kilometers of the Squamish area and its tributary rivers.
Bad weather can be good for eagle viewing as the eagles tend to stay
closer to the riverbanks and closer to viewing areas. When the weather is great, they are
more likely to be off for a little fly around the rivers, mountains and forests of the
One of the best ways to see the Bald Eagles in the spectacular
surroundings is on an Eagle
Safari with Canadian Outback Adventures.
A dream experience for adventure travellers, photographers, families,
schools and educational groups, it is the best way to get up close to these raptors
without disturbing them.
While they usually run white water rafting trips in the summer, in
winter, Canadian Outback takes vacationers, school and educational groups on float tours
down the rivers in the area; in order to see these spectacular birds in their natural
habitat, with stunning mountain scenery and forest backdrops.
The closest Squamish hotel to the prime eagle viewing area in
Brackendale is the Sea to Sky Hotel at
Garibaldi Way, on Highway 99. Excellent eagle viewing areas are only about a kilometer
away. The hotel also offers discount ski packages to those traveling to ski or board at
at the Sea to Sky Hotel:
40330 Tantalus Way, Garibaldi Highlands, BC.
Other places to stay in Squamish include the Mountain Retreat
Hotel and Super 8 Hotel, both in Progress Way.
There are other good viewing areas in town, particularly along the
river dykes, at the end of Judd Road, and around the spawning channels; between the
Mamquam River and the Squamish Valley Golf
and Country Club.
To see the eagles from arguably the best viewing area, turn west from
Highway 99 at Garibaldi Way.
This is a left hand turn if you are coming from Vancouver, or a right
hand turn if you are coming from Whistler. Turn right again in about 20 metres at the
T-junction with Government Road.
Follow Government Road for just under one kilometre and you will be at
the Eagle Viewing area.
There is lots of parking on the right and an interpretive center on
the dyke, from which you can get a great view of dozens of Bald Eagles.
If you are very lucky, there may also be a few seals around, as well
as a variety of other bird species.
On weekends, from December to mid-February, there are often volunteers
from Squamish's Eagle Watch program on hand to offer more information and a peek through
higher powered telescopes.
Other great viewing areas are near the Tenderfoot Fish Hatchery, the
Squamish Estuary and near the spawning channels.
Squamish is an outdoor recreation Mecca with thousands of rock
climbing routes; hundreds of kilometers of Mountain Bike trails; a dozen excellent day
hikes; some of the best windsurfing and kite-surfing on the west coast of North America;
with excellent white water rafting or kayaking and scuba diving in Howe Sound.
Fishing; three scenic golf courses; walking trails; beaches and lakes;
and sailing are all available activities for the less adventurous.
The new Squamish Adventure
Center was recently opened on Highway 99.
From the Squmish Chamber of Commerce.
By Gordon Addison.
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