Callaghan Valley

Callaghan Valley

The broad, glacial-carved valley of the Callaghan River holds significant biodiversity values as a home to both black and grizzly bears, and coastal flora and fauna that do not occur in the Whistler Valley. Its upper reaches are both heavily glaciated and contain significant volcanic edifices.

The valley provides backcountry access to a wide range of landforms and geosites, including the Powder Mountain and Pemberton Icecaps, Callaghan Lake, Conflict Lake, Cirque Lake, Ring Lake, Ring Mountain (a flat-topped tuya) and the Mt. Cayley Massif and Volcanic Field.

There are numerous hiking and biking trails, as well as road access to the Whistler Olympic Park legacy Nordic-skiing facility. At the Alexander Falls B.C. Rec Site (pictured here), the waters of Madeley Creek (a tributary of the Callaghan River) tumble 43 metres over six distinct layers of Cheakamus basalt.

  • bear-viewing opportunities
  • Alexander Falls
  • the Mt. Cayley Massif and volcanic field

GEOLOGIC CONTEXT:

A wide, glacial-carved valley whose upper reaches contain significant volcanic geosites, remnant glaciers, and access to icecaps.

HOW TO SEE IT:

Approximately 44 km north of downtown Squamish or 14 km south of Whistler Village, turn west off of Highway 99 onto the Callaghan Valley Rd. Consult online or print guides for exact locations of specific trails and navigable logging roads.

Services:

Parking, washrooms and food at Whistler Olympic Park; washrooms, parking and tables at Alexander Falls.

Hazards:

Wilderness backcountry and high-mountain hazards such as rockfall, avalanches, and crevasses, sensitive ecosystems and high bear-use areas; stay on marked trails where appropriate and always carry bear spray.

Protection and guardianship are at the heart of the Geopark philosophy. We ask that you treat the land with the same reverence as its original inhabitants, and not remove anything from a site but what you’ve brought to help preserve it for future generations.

Decimal Degrees (DD)

50.192617, -123.1827

Degrees Decimal Minutes (DDM)

50° 11.5570' N  123° 10.9620' W

Degrees Minutes Seconds (DMS)

50° 11' 33.42" N  123° 10' 57.72" W

What Are Pillars?

The Fire & Ice Aspiring Geopark comprises four main geological pillars referenced in all interpretive material: (M)ountain Building, (G)laciation, (V)olcanism and (C)ollapse.

MOUNTAIN BUILDING

Mountain building can involve several processes that contribute to the formation of mountains, such as the collision of tectonic plates that result in folding, faulting, metamorphism and the creation of subduction zones associated with volcanic activity and igneous intrusion.

GLACIATION

Glaciation refers to landform phenomena associated with the formation, movement and recession of glaciers and ice sheets. In temperate latitudes such as British Columbia, montane glaciation at higher altitudes is the norm while continental glaciation occurred during Ice Ages like the recent Pleistocene.

VOLCANISM

Volcanism is the eruption of subterranean molten rock (magma) and gasses onto the surface of the planet and includes the production of volcanic landforms and the effects of eruptions and flowing lava on pre-existing surface formations.

COLLAPSE

Collapse is a term that refers broadly to both slow processes of destabilization and erosion by wind, water and ice, as well as rapid processes like rockfall and landslides.

Whether acting as primary or secondary forces, one or more of these processes figure in the creation of each geosite.