Guide to Adventuring Responsibly in Squamish
Over the past few years our sleepy town of Squamish has quickly gaining recognition as world class outdoor recreation destination. From kiteboarding on the Howe Sound, hiking on an extensive trail network, to mountain biking and backcountry skiing, these are just some of the exciting activities Squamish has to offer.
These amazing attractions combined with Squamish’s sense of community fueled a 14.6 percent population growth from 2006 to 2011, and now the world is taking notice as well. The New York Times listed Squamish as one of its 52 places to go in 2015, and with the creation of the Sea to Sky Gondola, this little town of 17,500 has become one of B.C.’s most popular destinations.
More people passing through or relocating to Squamish brings countless benefits, but also a few drawbacks. While tourism helps energize the economy, facilitates cultural exchange, and provides an opportunity to share a small part of the natural wonders of the Sea to Sky Corridor, it also puts a lot of pressure on our little town and parks.
As our community gains popularity and continues to attract more and more people out to enjoy our stunning nature, we thought it was time to create this Guide to Adventuring Responsibly, to give you some ideas on how to best enjoy our town with the least impact on our natural amenities.
Please enjoy, share and let us know if we missed anything you would add!
6 Tips for Responsible Adventuring in Squamish
As Squamish continues to grow, it’s important that we all adventure and enjoy the outdoors responsibly to protect the natural landscape and culture that draws visitors in the first place. Here are six ways to adventuring responsibly in Squamish:
1. Keep the small-town feel
Many people come to Squamish to escape the fast-paced, impersonal life of the city. Part of the appeal is the slower pace and a sense of community. Residents tend to know one another, smile, and say hi. We don’t want to lose that small-town charm, and we don’t have to, either. Get to know your neighbors and participate in community events. When you see an unfamiliar face, say hi and strike up a conversation. Provincial parks and outdoor adventure sports aren’t the only things Squamish has to offer – we have a unique culture and lifestyle that can only be shared through personal interaction. No one should get lost in a crowd.
2. Take out what you bring in
Squamish is more than a town – it encompasses many parks, which have their own, slightly wilder, animal inhabitants. These animals are cute in pictures, but remember that in person the situation is more complicated. You are a danger to them, and they are a danger to you. Most people want to protect the flora and fauna, but not everyone knows how to or realizes that their actions have serious consequences.
General guidelines for handling food and garbage in the parks:
- Do not feed any wild animals.
- Never store food or garbage in your tent.
- Store all food and garbage in airtight or bear-proof containers. Store them out of reach or leave them in your car if possible.
- Do not bury or burn food or containers – leftovers may remain and attract bears.
- Clean up thoroughly when you are done cooking to remove the scent from grease and dirty dish water.
- Some non-food items also attract bears such as toothpaste, perfume, repellents, and cosmetics. Pack these items out as well.
Unfortunately, not following these guidelines leads to the death of many animals, especially bears. Bears are common in the parks during summer, and the scent of unattended food or garbage draws them dangerously close to campsites and picnic areas.
Normally, bears are afraid of humans, but when people keep leaving food out or it becomes accessible to wildlife, bears will keep coming back. They eventually lose their fear and associate humans with food. When this happens, it may approach or harm humans, and the park has to destroy it. Avoid contributing to this situation by following guidelines and park regulations and so that you can adventure responsibly in Squamish.
3. Only camp in designated areas
Wanting to experience nature to its fullest and without restrictions is understandable, but Squamish’s provincial parks have designated camping areas for a reason. If spots are full during the busy season, don’t take it upon yourself to pitch your tent somewhere else. Not only is it illegal and is not adventuring responsibly in Squamish, but making your own campsite damages vegetation and causes soil erosion.
4. Follow fire/campfire restrictions
The threat of forest fires can’t be overemphasized. In 2016, a remote forest fire near Fort McMurray’s destroyed over 500,000 hectares. While the cause is still unknown, hundreds of national parks all over the world have been devastated by campers who fail to follow fire regulations and safety.
- Check all fire restrictions before coming.
- When possible, cook using a camp stove.
- Do not collect kindling or firewood from the park – these debris are important for the ecosystem and regrowth.
- Purchase local firewood to avoid bringing in invasive species.
- Only burn wood and paper (do not burn food, plastic, tinfoil, etc.).
- Make small fires in designated fire rings or pits.
- Do not leave the fire unattended.
- Put out the fire when finished, pouring on water and stirring the ashes with a shovel until it cools.
Each park in Squamish has clear fire regulations. Before going, check the guidelines on BC Parks’ website.
5. Follow marked trails
Most of Squamish’s trails are well-marked and easy to follow. You should never make your own trails or stray from marked paths. Leaving the trail is dangerous and destroys the vegetation and soil structure.
6. Be considerate of others
Tourists and residents alike enjoy visiting the parks and participating in outdoor activities. Remember that you aren’t alone and that the parks belong to everyone. Don’t disturb other campers, let other hikers or bikers pass on the trails, and work to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
We have so much nature to explore, but it is everyone’s responsibility to respect and work as a community to protect it. If everyone acts responsibly we can continue to develop Squamish while preserving the incredible wildlife that surrounds us and our approachable, small-town culture.