for Visitors



When climbing first became popular in the Squamish area in the 1970s and 1980s, most climbers camped for free at locations like the “Psyche Ledge” under the Chief. After the Chief became a provincial park, a designated campground was created. It had plenty of space, so most visiting climbers used it.

Starting in the 2000s, a few trends appeared that disrupted that situation. One was the development and promotion of Squamish bouldering, which accelerated the growth in visitor numbers. Another was the popularity of van camping, for which the Chief campground was not originally designed. Van camping spread to the parking lots around the Chief. The upgrade of Highway 99, coinciding with the 2010 Winter Olympics, encouraged more non-climbing visitors to stop in Squamish, especially to hike the Chief. For the same reason, more people were choosing to live in Squamish, increasing the town’s population and also bringing new demographics and attitudes.

By 2015, parking at the Chief was becoming overwhelmed all summer. To ensure safety, especially to ensure clear access for emergency vehicles, BC Parks had to make a difficult decision to enforce parking more strictly, restricting overnight use. This led to more campers seeking alternative free sites, especially around the nearby Mamquam forest road. Local residents were upset by this, and not just for selfish reasons: there was clear evidence of sensitive riparian areas being damaged. Perceptions of the value of climbing visitors to the town deteriorated, threatening hard-won access rights to the cliffs.

Squamish Access Society strongly requests that visiting climbers use designated campgrounds or lodging.


These are many designated campgrounds in the Squamish area. A full list, including campgrounds that accept reservations, and have extensive amenities, can be found here. These are three basic low-cost campgrounds specifically aimed at climbers:

At the Chief: Stawamus Chief Provincial Park Campground
BC parks site with camping fees. A reservation system is planned but not yet in place.

7 minutes north: Mamquam River Campground
A non-profit site with camping fees. A reservation system is planned but not yet in place. (Note that this campground is by the Mamquam River. It is not on the confusingly-named Mamquam forest road under the Chief, which is actually next to the Stawamus River for its first few kilometers.)

20 minutes north: Chek Canyon Recreation Site
A public site, no fees or reservation system. Chek is Squamish’s #1 sport climbing venue with hundreds of bolted routes from 5.3 to 5.14


Squamish has several hotels at different price points. These can easily be researched through websites like Similarly, there are many Airbnb properties, though their regulation is currently under review by the municipality. There is one low-cost hostel, the Squamish Adventure Inn, popular with climbers, within walking distance of the Chief.


If, despite the numerous alternatives, you want to camp in undesignated areas, please take the time to understand the distinctions between different land categories and the rules governing them. In particular, know which areas are within the District of Squamish municipal boundary and which are outside the municipality.

In general, District of Squamish discourages wild camping within the municipal boundary and passed a bylaw in 2019 that explicitly prohibits camping in some locations, including:

  • the whole of the Mamquam Forest Service Road under the North Walls of the Chief between the junction with the 99 and junction with the Stawamus/ Indian Arm Forest Service Road (as a salmon run and sensitive riparian area, camping close to the Stawamus River is especially inappropriate)
  • the Powerhouse Springs Road including the parking area for the Fernhill cliff
  • the dirt road to the kitesurfing “Spit”

Camping on urban / residential streets is also prohibited under pre-existing bylaws.

If you explore forest roads in crown land outside the municipal boundaries, it may be possible to find discreet roadside sites suitable for tents or van camping. However, the provincial authorities do have some restrictions; in particular stays are limited to 14 days. Campers should follow Leave No Trace principles and strictly observe any current fire bans.

Last updated: May 2018


  • 20 March – COVID-19 Update
    The Squamish Access Society is committed to the fight against COVID-19. As such we have echoed the best practices put forward by the provincial health authorities to mitigate the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus. We trust the climbing community are following provincial guidelines including social distancing, self-isolation, hygiene, not travelling, and reducing risk in all their activities to...
    Read more
  • Climbing & COVID-19
    SAS would like to take this opportunity to encourage climbers to protect each other and our wider communities by bearing the following in mind: TravelWhether it’s visiting Squamish or heading elsewhere for warmer and drier weather, travelling risks spreading the virus on your journey, to your destination and...
    Read more
  • AGM 2020
    The society’s annual general meeting for 2020 will take place at 7pm on Tuesday the 14th of January at the Aligned Collective in Squamish. The agenda will be as follows: 1) Call to Order 2) Motion to accept last year’s minutes 3) Treasurer’s Report 4) 2019 SAS...
    Read more
  • Statement regarding Murrin land transfer
    In light of recent media attention, and after consultation with the District of Squamish and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, the board members of the Squamish Access Society (“SAS”) would like to make a public statement about SAS’s position on land transfers from the Crown...
    Read more