For thrill appeal, few sites rival Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. The park’s star attraction is the marvelous suspension footbridge that sways 230 ft (70 m) above the gushing Capilano River. Visitors can also get a squirrel’s-eye perspective of the West Coast rain forest that lies along treetop bridges, or walk across a spectacular cliffside walkway straddling the deep Capilano Canyon. With a host of activities for both children and adults, this park is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions.
3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver • 604 985 7474 • www.capbridge.com • Open Feb–May & Sep–Nov: 9am–dusk daily, Jun–Aug: 8am– 8pm daily, Dec–Jan: 11am–9pm daily; closed Dec 25 • Adm adults $46.95, seniors $42.95, students $34.95, youth (13–16) $27.95, children $14.95 (under-6s free)
This awe-inspiring bridge is built of steel cables spanning 450 ft (137 m) and strong enough to support a full Boeing 747. Those crossing the bridge cling to the handrails as they experience the same thrills visitors did back in 1889.
Set at the center of the Kia’palano Big House is the Next Generation story pole, honoring First Nations artists. An interactive exhibit with a First Nations interpreter is in the open-fronted Little Big House (a smaller version of the Big House).
This exhilarating exhibit leads you gently upwards over seven suspension bridges attached to eight old-growth Douglas fir trees. At the end of your journey, you are 100 ft (30 m) high in the mid-story treetops.
Treetops Adventure uses an innovative compression system to secure observation platforms to the trees. Instead of nails or screws, friction collars are used. Held on by compression, they exert a gentle pressure.
Almost 700 ft (213 m) of bridges and stairs lead along the cliff edge, offering stunning views of the Capilano River gorge 230 ft (70 m) below.
This perennial garden harks back to the homeland of many of Vancouver’s early settlers. Planted in 1910, the azaleas and rhododendrons dazzle with colorful blooms. The garden is at its best in May.
At the centre’s entrance, totem poles carved by local Coast Salish First Nations people make a colorful display. Introduced in the 1930s, the poles now number more than 30.
Friendly costumed guides in period attire welcome visitors to the park. Taking on the roles of local historical characters, the guides narrate the often hair-raising stories of the North Shore’s early days, when timber was king.
Clever interactive displays educate visitors about native plants and trees. Panels feature the animals and bugs living in a West Coast rain forest, and naturalists offer guided tours on its peaceful forest trails.
From miners to loggers to dancehall girls, the centre tells the history of the park, and of wider North Vancouver in a walk-through exhibit. Many captioned photographs bring history to life. Voices from the Past, an audio component, fills in any blanks.
Scotsman George Grant MacKay loved the out-doors. As Vancouver’s first park commissioner, he voted for Stanley Park in 1886. Two years later, he bought 9 sq miles (23 sq km) of old-growth forest along the Capilano River and built a cabin on the edge of the canyon wall. With the help of local Coast Salish people, he built a hemp rope and cedar suspension bridge in 1889. This was the very first bridge.