Canada,  We12inspire

Canada travel tip: Peak 2 Peak or Sea to Sky?

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Within Canada, British Columbia is a popular place to go for a vacation. This province is famous for its mountains and a trip to this part of the world is not complete without a ride into the mountains. During my latest journey through Canada, I tried two of the most famous gondolas in British Columbia: the Peak 2 Peak in Whistler and the brand new Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. Both are super cool but not very cheap. If you have trouble picking one, just continue reading as I will tell you about my experiences and reasons why to choose one or the other.

You’ve probably heard of Whistler before, famous of the Winter Olympics in 2010. It’s just a one hour drive from downtown Vancouver and probably one of Canada’s most famous ski resorts. The drive to Whistler is just stunning: it will lead you over the Sea to Sky Highway, litterally from sealevel to the mountain tops. Half way during the drive to Whistler you will pass by Squamish, located at the northern shores of Howe Sound. Both places are ideal for a daytrip from Vancouver, however it would be better if you have a night or two to spend in either place.

Sea to Sky Gondola – Squamish
The brand new Sea to Sky Gondola has just opened a couple of days before I tried it in May 2014. The cabins almost smelled new and were shining brightly in the sun. I started the ride on sealevel and within 12 minutes I arrived at the Summit Lodge on 885 meters above sealevel. The first views into the valley are just breathtaking! From the Summit Lodge I stroll south to the 100 meter long Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. Without hesitation I step on to the wobbly bridge, as far as I’m concerned the more movement the better, however the other visitors seem to hate me for jumping up and down to make it move. Within moments they have left the bridge and I have it all to myself (to take pictures, mission accomplished…)

Sea2SkyGondola Sea2SkyWelcome Sea2SkyBridge1Skea2SkySuspensionBridge
Besides the Suspension Bridge there are also three observation decks. The first one is located next to the Summit Lodge. Here you can enjoy a lunch or snack and use the free wifi to send a message home and make everyone jealous by showing off in what a beautiful place you have arrived. The Spirit Viewing Platform is located about 150 meters from the Summit Lodge and can be reached via the Spirit Trail. Along the way you will find interpretive information about the Stawamus First Nations. The last observation deck is about 800 meters away and offers you the most amazing views on Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains.  I would have loved to stay here for the rest of my day…

Sea2SkyView Sea2SkyObservation Sea2SkyHoweSound

Advantages Sea to Sky:
– Less than an hour drive from Downtown Vancouver.
– Jaw dropping views.
– Very good for early and late season visits, when I was there, all the snow had gone.
– Free wifi (totally necessary for a blogger haha).

Disadvantages Sea to Sky:
– Limited hiking possibilities, however this may change in the near future.

The current fare for a ticket is $ 32.95 when you buy it online and $ 34.95 when you buy it on the spot. Taxes are not included. Click here to go to the website of the Sea to Sky Gondola.


Peak 2 Peak Gondola – Whistler
When you are in Whistler, going into the mountains is a must. We did this in September 2004, back then we took the Whistler Village Gondola up into the mountains. We walked the Musical Bumps Trail, an amazing hike that we will never forget. In May 2014 I was back in Whistler and wanted to try the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, the first gondola in the world to connect two mountains (Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain) through a cable. From the village you take the Whistler Village Gondola and upon arrival on the mountain, you change to the Peak 2 Peak. This gondola takes you across the valley, 436 meters below you. Normally you will take the gondola down to the village again from Blackcomb but during my visit they were doing maintenance and I could ride the Peak 2 Peak back to Whistler Mountain for free.

Peak2PeakWhistlerMountain Peak2PeakStation Peak2PeakSnowGondola Peak2PeakHikingTrails

The best thing about this ride is that you can tell people you’ve been in the highest (above the ground) and longest (between two carrying towers) gondola in the world and that the views are simply breathtaking.

Unfortunately I’m here early in the season: the skislopes have just closed down and only three steps out of the mountain station I’m in the snow already. Hiking is impossible and all over the place constructions are being carried out. Luckily they made a small snowtubing track so at least I can go down a little hill in a tube, to have some fun. But that’s about it. On Blackcomb Mountain there’s even less to do, I take some pictures from the views and catch a ride
back to town.

Peak2PeakWhistlerVillageView

Peak2PeakBlackBears
My best black bear shot *sigh*

Ofcourse the ride with the Peak 2 Peak is simply spectacular. On the ride out I chose to take place in the silver cabin, the one with a glass bottom. It sounds more exciting than it was since you can’t step on the glass or anything. On the way back I had a cabin all to myself and I couldn’t help but think “what happens if the thing stops working at a 436 meter altitude, will they just leave me here? …” Of course, it didn’t.

Peak2PeakGondola2

Advantages Peak 2 Peak
– The duration: from the village, the ride will take more than an hour.
– Amazing hiking possibilities once the snow is gone.
– Skislopes underneath the gondola, big chance of seeing bears.
– Free wifi (still necessary for a blogger).

Disadvantages Peak 2 Peak:
– The snow that stays around far into the season.
– It’s busy: you have to share the cabins with downhill bikers and other outdoor fanatics.

The current price for a ticket is $ 48.95 plus taxes. Click here to go to the Peak 2 Peak website.


Conclusion:
If you travel in pre- or post season, definitely choose the Sea to Sky Gondola. The walks you can make here are simple and can be done by anyone. If you really want to explore the mountains, then go for the Peak 2 Peak. But only if the snow has melted, for me it was a big disappointment I couldn’t really do anyhting.

Peak2PeakvsSea2Sky

Liked reading this? You might enjoy these too:
A 2 Day itinerary for a super scenic drive from Vancouver to Whistler
Hiking the Wild Pacific Trail on Vancouver Island
How to travel 113 days a year with a fulltime office job
Winter hiking in Zell am See, Austria

Thank you for sharing!

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Anto is a 30-something outdoor fan who travels the world about 100 days a year, combined with a full-time office job. She loves to go hiking, enjoys a good class of wine and can usually be found with an iPhone in her hand. Favorite destinations: New Zealand, Patagonia, Austria and Alaska.

20 Comments

  • Toccara

    I love how the Sea to Sky Gondola takes you to that incredible suspension bridge. The views from there and the platforms are gorgeous!! It’s pretty cool how the Peak 2 Peak Gondola has a see-through floor and it’s probably best that people can’t stand on it, because it would be scratched up and smudged pretty quickly, making it hard to see through. Thanks for comparing these two fun options! Something to definitely keep in mind when we make it to that part of Canada… on our list!

    • anto

      Thanks for bringing that to our attention Cait! We cannot wait to be back here one day and explore the area more, this time I only had just a couple of hours before I had to be back in Vancouver …

  • kami

    I still have to visit this part of Canada and when I finally make it to British Columbia I so want to see this Sunspension Bridge! It looks really breathtaking! Thank you Anto for bringing it to my attention!

  • Beth

    Oh man, I have a hard enough time wanting to take sky gondalas (but I force myself since they’re EVERYWHERE in Asia) but I’m not sure I could do that bridge! Looks so scary– but the views are incredible.

  • Alli

    I know what you mean when your mind starts thinking kind of morbid things! Imagining what it would be like to be left behind . . . ! I don’t know why we do that to ourselves. I loved my gondola ride in Queenstown, NZ and would love to do it out West also 😉

  • Meg Jerrard

    Amazing, thanks for this! We’re heading to BC in a few months and are just strating to plan out our time and day trip options from Vancouver. Thanks for including the advantages and disadvantages of each – overall looks like these experiences are a must!

  • Hayley Swinson

    I have always wanted to visit Whistler, but never thought of going in the off-season. Would really love to ride or ski up there. You post makes me want to go when there’s not as much snow on the ground, though! Beautiful photos, even if you didn’t get that close to a bear… 🙂

  • Sammi Wanderlustin'

    Your photo’s are stunning. Recently BC has come up on my list of places to visit, I so want to go to more cold places these days. I don’t know if I’d use the gondola’s tho’, I’m terrified of heights!

  • Marlies

    I skipped the Sea to Sky last summer because I was on my way to Whistler where I did the Peak 2 Peak instead but now that I see you pictures I am so bummed that I skipped the Sea to Sky!
    But then again I had to make choice but still…

    I hope to go back to Canada to do the things I have skipped on my last trip.

    • anto

      Ah yes, I totally get that. I’d say that the Peak 2 Peak is a bit more spectacular but a lot busier, too. I hope you can find the opportunity to go back one day!

  • Evelyn

    Haha I wish I read your post before I did it. Took the gondola yesterday and was pretty bumped about the snow, but enjoyed that and the view. Next time I’ll do a hike!

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