Experiencing the Capilano Suspension Bridge has long since been on our local to do list. Although we count ourselves among the lucky souls who can call British Columbia their home base, and despite the fact that the suspension bridge is only an hour drive away, it was activity we had yet to experience. Because of this, we decided to take advantage of a recent sunny Sunday, and make the trek out to the bridge.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the province’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions. There is plenty for curious little ones (and adults!) to do here; with activities like teetering across the suspension bridge, climbing among giant Douglas firs in the Treetops Adventure, and exploring the high and narrow walkways of the Cliff Walk, this 27 acre park has attractions and activities that are sure to be enjoyed by visitors of all tastes and preferences.
The kids had fun posing with the totem poles at Kia’palano Village. They also really enjoyed becoming Wilderness Explorers at Dr. Woods cabin, and spent a good chuck of the afternoon learning about the temperate rainforest while strolling among the ancient trees.
Our afternoon exploring the park was a fun adventure, spent learning about the nature, culture, and history of the area. It is hard to believe that this place exists just outside the big city of Vancouver.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge
This gravity defying destination stretches 450 feet, precariously connecting the two land areas over the Capilano River. It is certainly not an attraction for anyone suffering from vertigo or fear of heights, but those willing to brave the unsteadiness of the bridge are rewarded with unparalleled views of nature in its purest form. Keep in mind that the bridge does get crowded at times, as people are crossing from both directions, and people often stop along the way to pose for pictures.
The Treetops Adventure was Finley and Cooper’s favorite part of the park. Weaved through the treetops of gigantic old growth Douglas firs are a series of 7 suspension bridges, connected by small platforms. Some of the platforms are as high as 110 feet above the ground below, providing a unique squirrels-eye view of the forest. Here kids can visit Dr. Woods cabin, where they can pick up their own Wilderness Explorer clipboards; the kids use the guides to help them circulate among the trees, answering questions and collecting research data, while learning key facts about the temperate rainforest. When they are done, they can turn their completed guides in, and receive a small Wilderness Explorer badge as a reward. We enjoyed the fact that the tour was self guided, as it allowed us to take our time and really explore the area.
Kia’palano Native Village
The park has the largest private totem pole collection in the world, and the Native Village is a great place to check out the intricate details of these carved wooden sculptures. This is a great opportunity to learn about the history of the First Nations People, and their strong connection to the natural world. Pole carving demonstrations and native stories are offered at the village throughout the day.
This stunning suspended walkway juts out of the granite cliff face above the Capilano River canyon. The highest point stretches 300 feet above the river below, and gives guests a different view of the canyon than can be viewed from the suspension bridge. The walkways are very narrow, and in some places glass in the only thing separating you from the canyon below; while somewhat heart-stopping, the picturesque view of the rainforest is unparalleled.
The Trading Post Gift Shop:
A trip to the Capilano Suspension Bridge is not complete without a quick pit stop at the Trading Post Gift Shop. The structure has been there for over a century, and sells all sorts of Canadian themed souvenirs. They are famous for their fudge, and we ended our day by allowing the kiddos to pick out a few types to try. The stacked displays showcase a wide variety of tempting flavors, making choosing an adventure in itself.
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park has a rich and vibrant history. The land was first purchased by George Grant Mackay in 1888; a year later, he suspended a footbridge of hemp rope and cedar planks across the vast canyon. In 1903, the bridge was replaced with one of wire cable.
In 1956, the bridge and land was purchased by Rae Mitchell, who dreamed of making the bridge a top tourist destination. He reinforced with both cables and concrete, and worked at promoting the attraction world wide.
Nancy Stibbard, daughter of Rae Mitchell, purchased the land from her father in 1983; she further pursued her father’s dreams, making the bridge the star attraction that it is today.
Extensive information about the history of the park can be found in the Story Center, located near the park’s entrance. Here you will find photos, storyboards, and memorabilia about the pioneers who made the park possible.
Free history tours are offered at the start of every hour on the hour. Free nature tours depart every half hour from the rainforest side of the bridge.
3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, BC – a short 10 minute drive from Downtown Vancouver.
Adults $32.95, Kids 6-12 $12.00, Under 6 Free
Hours vary, see website for details.
$5, across the street
For more information about the Capilano Suspension Bridge, click here.
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