Wherever we go, we try to find a view overlooking the city so that we can get the lay of the land. In Vancouver, this meant heading north and into the mountains.
The most obvious choice was Grouse Mountain (more on that later), but given the non-ideal weather we chose a free option over a pricey one. Thus, on a recommendation from our friend Natalie, we went to the overlook on Cypress Mountain.
Cypress Mountain is a ski resort on the northwest side of Vancouver. Currently closed for the season, the ski resort is located at the top of the mountain. The picture of Vancouver (below) is taken from the overlook about halfway up.
This picture is included to give you an idea of Vancouver’s layout—the water is the Burrard Inlet and the green space across the water is Stanley Park, Vancouver’s equivalent of NYC’s Central Park. The West End (where we stayed) lies directly behind Stanley Park with the “downtown core” directly behind West End. East Vancouver (“East Van”) is to the left/east of downtown, and English Bay and Kitsilano Beach are to the right/west.
[Hint: I tell you this because some of these areas will be the topic of future posts!]
Grouse Mountain, called the Peak of Vancouver, is a ski resort in North Vancouver not far from Cypress Mountain. For non-skiers, the biggest draw is the SkyRide—the largest aerial tramway in North America. The SkyRide is over a mile-long gondola that goes to the top of Grouse Mountain and allows views south to Vancouver as well as north to the mountain ranges.
At $40 per person, the ride isn’t cheap. We chose the Cypress overlook due to the sketchy weather (i.e., non-ideal views), but if you’re thinking of visiting, there is another way to get the most for your money….
If you make a reservation at the Observatory Restaurant, a 5-star restaurant at the top of the mountain, the SkyRide ticket is complimentary. Keep this in mind, if you’re thinking of visiting Grouse Mountain and would like to stretch your $80!
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
While both Cypress and Grouse Mountains will take you to new heights to see Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park will take you to a different type of height. That is, to crazy heights above the Capilano River. Let me explain…
There are several parts to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, the most famous of which is its namesake, Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above the Capilano River. This bridge was originally built in 1889 (what!?!?), and has been strengthened many times since.
The major attraction of this bridge is that people can test their fear of heights, simply by walking across the bridge, while still being completely safe. Thus, this bridge isn’t for bungee jumpers or adventurers, this is for us mere mortals who like to test ourselves, but not too far…
The Treetops Adventure was just as its name sounds—an adventure walking across smaller suspension bridges through the treetops of the rainforest. While the name, and some of parts of the park, were a bit cheesy (and/or designed for kids), there was also a real serenity and peace that came with walking among the treetops. There were also a lot of opportunities to learn about rainforest ecology if you chose to take them (we did).
Last but not least was the Cliffwalk, also aptly named, which was a walk amidst the cliffs that overlook the Capilano River. While these would seem to be the most harrowing, I actually had less problem with them since the footing was more secure (i.e., no swaying suspension bridges!)
Below is a different view of the most daring area of the cliffwalk, which pulls away from the cliff.
Overall, Jeff and I had a lot of fun at the park—it helped us with our fear/healthy respect of heights, but it was also just a pleasure being among the trees and near the river and learning the ecology of the area. Marilyn—thanks so much for telling us about this!
Of note, the park is $~30/ticket but they give discounts for AAA (American) or CAA (Canadian) members, or if you go to Butchart Gardens, there is a coupon on that ticket.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this mini-trip through the heights of North Vancouver. We certainly did!