Capilano Suspension Bridge - great day out whilst in Vancouver
Updated: May 7
One of our favourite days out whilst staying in Vancouver, British Columbia is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Now you (the readers)are probably wondering why a bridge? We will explain but we can assure you that this place isn’t just about a bridge and why it is a fantastic place to visit for everyone, even little children. Here is how our trip planned out when we visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located about fifteen minutes drive from Downtown Vancouver. There is a free shuttle bus from certain pick up and drop off points in the city but we had a car for our visit so there was ample parking which is opposite the main entrance. The full address for Capilano is 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1. The attraction is open all year round apart from Christmas Day.
Stats and history
After paying for the ticket at the main entrance the first place we checked out of course is the Suspension Bridge. The bridge crosses the Capilano River, is 140 meters (460ft) long and is 70 meters (230ft) above the river. Originally built in 1889 by a Scottish man named George Frant Mackay who was a civil engineer and a park commissioner for Vancouver. Over the years the bridge was sold twice, firstly brought by Edward Mahon then MacEachran (who invited the local natives (First Nations people) to place their totem poles in the area). Then the bridge was sold again to Henri Aubeneau before the bridge was rebuilt for the second time in 1956. The whole park was sold again in 1983 to the current owner Nancy Stibbard who managed to boost attendance numbers to the park by adding a few extra attractions (which we will explain shortly).
On the bridge
Of course the Capilano Suspension Bridge is the highlight of the visit to the park. We love the views of the river and the water gushing downhill towards Vancouver. Here is also a good place to see a huge amount of trees and the taller mountains to the north, which one of the mountains that can be seen (but only just) is nearby Grouse Mountain. One word of advice is that if visitors suffer with motion sickness, then get here early (We would get here early regardless to avoid the crowds, especially in the summer months or weekends), because the more people on the bridge, the more it rocks.
Once crossing the bridge, one of the newer attractions (well, since 2004) is Treetops Adventures which consists of seven footbridges suspended between the trees. Fact: the trees around here are Douglas Fir trees (thought I throw that in there). The walkway is located up to thirty meters (98 feet) above the forest floor. We can see why children love this place, running along the bridges, getting excited about how high they are and it’s a great way to get up close to the trees.
Another one of the newer attractions opened in 2011 is the Cliffwork where visitors get the chance to walk on glass panels (thankfully the glass is very strong) on the side of a cliff. We are not joking, it is quite high and if you don’t like heights, then don’t look down! This is a great way to see another part of the canyon and a great view of the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Once the cliff walk is completed then the path goes through another forested area which meant we were able to get up close to the trees and saw a nice pond. The path eventually leads back to the main entrance area where there are gift shops and a restaurant.
Step back in time & First Nations culture
There is also a small area known as the Story Centre where we got to see people posing as tramps. No, not the tramp who are usually homeless people sleeping rough on the streets, no, the term tramp in this case are people who made the long ‘tramp’ to the suspension bridge. Here there are some displays to check out and artefacts from the area when the park was being created.
Also there is an area called Kia’palano where we got a glimpse into the lives of the First Nations people of this area and to see the connection they have with nature. Some of the history explained here includes the placing of the totem poles which all tell a story.
As mentioned Danik has been here twice, both in the summer months. First time we had a glorious sunny day, the second however, Danik had the rain come lashing down but luckily cleared up halfway through his visit. The good thing about this is that the park gives out free poncho’s if visitors require them. Make sure comfortable shoes are worn. Don’t even bother going in high heels! At weekends or the busy summer season, we would suggest buying tickets online to skip the queues at the entrance.
Also in busy periods, get there early. We were here all morning and by lunchtime the park was full of visitors. We are really surprised that the bridge can hold a lot of people. All that extra weight and strain on the structure.
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