Planning a road trip to Squamish (spring of next year)


Original Post
kzurriola · · San Luis Obispo, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

My boyfriend and I are working on a road trip plan for sometime next year from central coast CA, up through Oregon and Washington, to Squamish and eventually Banff and then back to CA.

I would love any suggestions for climbing / camping in Squamish (that's basically the main destination for the road trip), especially time of year to travel. We'll both have to take PTO and would like to plan ahead for what time of year to go, how long to spend up there, and how much money to save. When would be a decent time to go? Is May too early/too wet?

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions / tips!!

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 15

May is a toss up. If you wanted to be sure shoot for July through August. The coastal NW weather can't be predicted, however July and August are usually beautiful.

The best price for camping is Stawaumish Chief Campground. Gets crowded on weekends and I believe there are limits to how many days you can stay. There are plenty of private campgrounds that are more pricey but have nice showers and amenities.

If you drive north to Cheekamus Canyon (this is the best sport climbing area in Squamish) there is actually some dispersed free camping. Its about 15 miles north of Squamish.

Anyway all the climbing is smashed into that central area and you could spend a couple life times trying to get it all done. Just pick up the books both bouldering and routes. Tons of info and a good reference for anything you will need.

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 15

Ps. If you're going up through Washington as I am sure you are. Make a pit stop in Leavenworth! Its probably my favorite place to climb in the country.

Todd Anderson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 0

The time limit for camping at the Stawamus Chief campground is 14 days per month, or maybe 14 days per 28 days. Basically they don't want people living there full-time. My girlfriend and I didn't pay too much attention to this rule, and were kicked out on day 15. That was in 2013; I haven't done a long trip up there since but I think the rule is unchanged.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40

The driest time to go would be July through August. It's also the most crowded. May is a gamble. I would wait until at least June. Bring your mountain bike if the rock's wet.

You can find a places to camp after 14 days are up. There's plenty of FSRs to drive down and sleep on. Ask around town which roads are best.

There's a cool crag and a alpine tower to climb in Whistler.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5
Dan Cooksey wrote:May is a toss up. If you wanted to be sure shoot for July through August. The coastal NW weather can't be predicted, however July and August are usually beautiful. The best price for camping is Stawaumish Chief Campground. Gets crowded on weekends and I believe there are limits to how many days you can stay. There are plenty of private campgrounds that are more pricey but have nice showers and amenities. If you drive north to Cheekamus Canyon (this is the best sport climbing area in Squamish) there is actually some dispersed free camping. Its about 15 miles north of Squamish. Anyway all the climbing is smashed into that central area and you could spend a couple life times trying to get it all done. Just pick up the books both bouldering and routes. Tons of info and a good reference for anything you will need.
+1 to everything he said. May is still pretty dodgy, weather wise, although in some years it is lovely. June is more reliable than May, and July/August are typically quite warm and sunny (in most years). I probably wouldn't plan a road trip there before the beginning of June, and the later in June you go the better. Early July is when the dry summer weather really locks in (in most years...).

Squamish has an enormous quantity and variety of climbing, and the quality is quite high. Also, the camping is nice, the logistics are easy (town is right there), the people are friendly, the scenery is pretty, and there are lots of fun rest day activities. It is a great place to settle in for a while-- the best choice for how long to stay there is "as long as possible". How much time do you have- is this a multi-month odyssey sort of trip, or a 2-week vacation?

If you have 3 weeks or less, plan on spending all of it is Squamish. There is so much climbing that 2-3 weeks is just enough time to scratch the surface. With 4 weeks, I would probably still plan on spending it all in Squamish, or maybe including a stop in Washington or Oregon on the way up. Driving over to Banff adds a lot of extra travel time, and I would only consider it if you are doing a 4+ week trip.

If you end up in Squamish too early in the season and get rained out, you can drive 5 hours to Skaha, which has a large quantity of excellent sport climbing and is in a much drier (semi-desert) climbing on the east side of the mountains. Spring is nice there, while summer is quite hot. I wouldn't drive from CA just for Skaha, but it is a good back-up plan if you gamble on early season in Squamish.

Leavenworth is another dry-side option if you get rained out of Squamish, though the quality of the cragging in Leavenworth is a massive step down from Squamish. I would only go there if the weather forces you to, or if you want to boulder (the bouldering in Leavenworth is good).
Taber Tang · · Minneapolis, Minnesota · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0

Does anyone know how hard it'll be to find an open walk in campsite in stawamus mid June? I was told it might be full up around that time

Todd Anderson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 0
Taber Tang wrote:

Does anyone know how hard it'll be to find an open walk in campsite in stawamus mid June? I was told it might be full up around that time

It will almost definitely be full if you arrive Friday-Sunday.  Maybe you could get a campsite Sunday night, or on a weekday.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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