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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 tributaries.

Squamish, British Columbia

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 Columbia.

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 Squamish area.

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.

Staying in Squamish, British Columbia

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 Whistler Blackcomb.

Stay 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.

Eagle Viewing Areas

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.

About Squamish in Brief

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.

Squamish Visitor Information:
From the Squmish Chamber of Commerce.

By Gordon Addison.

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