Most of us need to get out of the city once in a while to unwind and get back to nature. If you live in or are visiting Vancouver BC, this is an easy task. Take a few hours to explore the mountains on the North Shore of Vancouver; there are plenty of outdoor activities for you here. Walk under the tree tops in the rainforest at the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, ride the Grouse Mountain gondola, observe the life cycle of the Salmon at the Capilano Fish Hatchery, hike up the Grouse Grind, and visit the grizzly bear sanctuary to name a few.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge spans 450 ft across the Capilano Canyon on Vancouver’s North Shore, some 230 ft above the Capilano River. The bridge was originally built in 1889, made of hemp ropes with a deck of cedar planks. It was completely rebuilt in 1956 and is now made with steel wire cable. Today the Capilano Suspension Bridge has a load capacity of 123 tons or two loaded 747’s!
In 1935 “Mac” MacEachran purchased the Vancouver Capilano Bridge and turned it into a tourist attraction. He invited local natives to place their totem poles in the park, adding a native theme. Today the Capilano Suspension Bridge resort owns North America’s largest private collection of First Nations totem poles.
Presently, the Capilano bridge is owned by Nancy Stibbard. She has turned the Capilano Suspension Bridge into a beautiful resort that attracts some 800,000 visitors annually. It features an exhibit highlighting the park’s history and rain forest eco-tours conducted by friendly guides in period costumes.
In 2004 the Treetops Adventure was built, the first venue of its kind in North America. Get a close-up view of the giants of the rainforest from a walkway of seven footbridges suspended between old-growth Douglas Fir trees, some 100 ft above the forest floor.
In 2011, the Cliff Walk was added to the park. These adventures are free and come as a bundle along with the other attractions.
Another fabulous North Vancouver attraction is Grouse Mountain. Overlooking Greater Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is the highest peak of the Vancouver North Shore Mountains and is part of the Pacific Mountain Range. The Grouse Mountain elevation exceeds 5,000 feet.
Grouse Mountain is a popular resort all year! It features lumberjack shows, alpine hiking trails, birds of prey shows, helicopter rides, zip lining, and a sanctuary for two grizzly bears. If you want to get to the top of the mountain, you can hike up the Grouse Grind trail. Don’t worry if you’re not up to the grueling Grouse Grind hike, there’s a 3700 foot sky ride to the top. The Grouse Mountain gondola provides year-round public access to the top of the mountain and a scenic ride back down as well. If you don’t have a vehicle, you can easily take a bus to Grouse Mountain!
Recently, Grouse Mountain built a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine – the Eye of the Wind – which is anticipated to supply 25% of the resort’s electricity. It is the first wind turbine built in North America at an extremely high altitude. The turbine weighs more than 250 tones and rises 213 feet from its base to the top of the tower. Three fiberglass reinforced polyester blades of 122 feet in length each, sweep an area of 50,000 square feet.
The support tower includes an observation deck accessible by elevator and is open to the public for a charge.
Please check their website for Grouse Mountain hours.
Capilano Salmon Hatchery
Salmon are not only important for the West Coast fisheries industry – they’re a vital component of the rain forest – which could not exist without them.
The Capilano Salmon Hatchery is an ideal place for visitors to learn about the life cycle of salmon. Outdoor educational displays, including a glass-sided fishway and tanks, enable visitors to witness salmon jumping up the fish ladder during their upstream migration. Salmon really do swim upstream-and at certain times of the year, you can see this amazing salmon trek. Watching a full-grown fish leap a foot or more at a time is an unforgettable sight. During peak run times, the ladder is solid with fish and the tiny newborn salmon swim in the pools. The interpretive displays provide information on the hatchery, species of Pacific salmon, watershed locations, fish transplants, fish culture and other enhancement techniques,
The Capilano Salmon Hatchery was built below Cleveland Dam in order to rear and release the diminishing stock of Salmon and Steelhead. Today this facility produces three million salmon each year. Over 400,000 visitors annually, both local and international, visit the public viewing area at the Capilano Salmon Hatchery.
|Dates||Daily between May 19 and October 29|
|Pick-up||downtown Vancouver Hotels|
|Price per person||Can$171 adults, Can$104 children up to 12|
|What to bring
||wear layered clothing and good walking shoes. Bring sun protection, camera and binoculars.|
|Cancellation||2 days or less – no refund|