Stunning Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Vancouver BC

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Capilano Suspension Bridge Park - Vancouver BC
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – Vancouver BC

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver BC. If you are visiting Vancouver Canada as a tourist or a traveler, visiting the amazing Capilano suspension bridge is something you can not miss. It is a curious mix of a natural wonder that has been brilliantly designed by the man in a way that you enjoy nature without really damaging it.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge gets its name from Capilano River over which it stands. It is actually a steep and deep gorge through which the water rushes with great force. It is a bit scary to stand on the bridge looking the ferocious water below surrounded by tall old green trees, adding to the height of the gorge.

History of Capilano Suspension Bridge

History of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park - Story Center
History of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – Story Center

The history of this gorgeous Capilano suspension bridge goes back to 1889 when a Scottish engineer George Grant Mackay built it as part of his assignment as park engineer. The original bridge was built of ropes and planks of the cedar tree, that gave way to cables in the 1930s. However, the suspension bridge that you walk on today dates back to 1956 when it was completely rebuilt.

Nancy Stibbard, the current owner bought this park in 1983. Yes, it is a privately held park and has changed many hands in his 100+ years of existence.

Trivia – Nancy used to sell ice cream at the park before she bought it over.

Technically, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is 450 ft in length and stands 230 ft above the Capilano River.

Over the years, many attractions have been added to the Capilano suspension bridge.

Come, let me take you for a walk around the park.

Visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park - Vancouver
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – Vancouver

I visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge park on my very first day in Vancouver. In fact, it was the first attraction I visited in the city. There is a Capilano Suspension bridge shuttle that you can take from the city to the park across the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park technically lies in North Vancouver which is a different city than Vancouver BC across the bridge.

Free Capilano Suspension Bridge Shuttle

A free shuttle service picks you up from the following four points in the Vancouver downtown to go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It drops you back at the same places too:

Canada Place
Hyatt Regency
Blue Horizon
Westin Bayshore

After the park, I wanted to go to the Vancouver Art Gallery and the driver of the Capilano Suspension Bridge Shuttle was kind enough to drop me very close to it. She also gave me the exact directions to reach the art gallery.

I think this free shuttle service is a great help to the tourists who primarily stay in the city. Without this shuttle, many tourists may skip the park as it would cost a lot of money and time to visit the park.

You can view the shuttle schedule here.

Remember there is a different schedule at different times of the year.

My Visit on a Rainy Day

It was raining the day I visited Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in November. Along with the ticket I was handed a Poncho to protect me from the rain. I walked in with my cameras around my neck and a lot of excitement in my heart.

Story Center

The story center documents the history and journey of the park with photographs and memorabilia. There are life-size black and white images and the stories associated with them.

Totem Poles and Kia’Palano

Totem Poles - Capilano Suspension Bridge Park - Vancouver BC
Totem Poles

As you cross the story center, you meet a bunch of lovely totem poles. I gather that Capilano has the largest collection of Totem Poles in North America.

I was quite fascinated by the well-maintained Totem poles on display. An interpretation center tells you the story of cedar wood and its inherent relationship with first nations communities.

Read MoreFirst Nations communities of British Columbia

It tells you about the role of Cedar Tree in the life of aboriginal communities and the contemporary role in art.

Walking the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano River Suspension Bridge
Capilano River Suspension Bridge

Passing through the historical references, I reached the coveted suspension bridge. I stood for a few minutes observing it as people leisurely walked on it from one side to another. Some stood in the middle looking at the river beneath.

With my camera firmly in my hand, I started walking on the narrow long bridge. Initially, it was like a cake walk – easy and steady. As I got closer to the middle of the bridge, it started swaying, making me a bit of unsteady. In the middle, it sways the most. This is also where you see the river rushing below you. The narrow and deep gorge presents itself in full glory.

Capilano River - Vancouver BC
Capilano River – Vancouver BC

I wonder if the bridge was created for a practical purpose or just to enjoy the rainforest on the other side of the river. Maybe it was for the trees and their solid wood that it was built. I tried to think how it would have felt with hemp ropes – did people feel scared.

There are a few freak accidents recorded in the history of Capilano suspension bridge but not too many to worry about.

It was fascinating to spend some time on the bridge and look at all the nature around, before crossing over to the other side.

Treetops Adventure at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

It was November and there were not many tourists. Christmas lights were being installed all over the park. On a gloomy sunless day, the lights were shining even during the day.

I walked past many tall trees to the beginning of treetops adventure at the park. Climbed up a flight of stairs. Small boards explain the rainforests. A weatherboard informs you all about the weather of the day.

Weather Board at Treetops adventure at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Weather Board at Treetops adventure at Capilano Park

I walked from tree to tree, stopping at the viewing platforms built around the tree. It was cold and humid; the sun was there but not there. I admired the tall trees, the deep gorge on one side with the sound of the water playing the background music. It is very different to stretch your neck and see the tall trees from the ground, then walking at an eye level with them. You get a feeling of being a low flying bird and you wonder how they choose the tree and then the branch on which to sit.

Squirrel’s Eye View

Literature tells me that the treetops adventure has been designed to give you a squirrel’s eye view of the west coast rainforest. You move from tree to tree and admire the jungle all around. 8 trees that are more than 250 years old have been tied together with a string of bridges and a sturdy platform around them. What is interesting is that no nails have been put in the trees. There is ample space left around trees to allow them to grow as they want.

Explore the Living Forests

Walkway around the living forests of British Columbia
The walkway around the living forests of British Columbia

After the treetops adventure, I was walking on another wooden walking path – this one closer to the surface. The long winding path takes you up and down, deep into the forest, sometimes quite close to the river. You pass through fallen trees, ponds and natural water bodies.

Christmas Lights in British Columbia Rainforest
Christmas Lights in Jungle

There are inspirational quotes about nature. There is an introduction to the trees around and there are statistics about how trees improve our environment. I loved the one that explained this rainforest in all four seasons – almost tempting you to visit the park again every season. It said if you have come during fall, it is probably raining. Yes, it was raining all the time I was at the Capilano Suspension Park.

Cliff Walk

Cliff Walk - Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Cliff Walk – One that scared me

This is a narrow semi-circular walk that goes around next to the roaring river. This was something I dared not attempt for multiple reasons. By the time I reached the cliff walk after coming back from the suspension bridge, it was raining heavily. The steps going down to the cliff walk were narrow and slippery. And, I am scared of heights. Just look at the walk – would you not be scared? Although I know, if it open to the public without supervision – it must be safe.

I did not see any people on this cliff probably because of the heavy rain.

Souvenir Shop

Finally, before you exit the park, there is a beautiful souvenir shop where you can buy gifts for people back home.

Read MoreBest Canada Souvenirs to buy

Free Alternative to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Must See at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park - Vancouver
Must See at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – Vancouver

Most locals would tell you that you do not have to pay to see the canyon. Not far is the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Park which also has a suspension bridge, but probably half the size of the Capilano bridge.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Park is popular with the locals as well as hikers as it is home to many hiking trails. There are twin waterfalls as well, which is something missing in the better-known park. I am going to explore this one, as and when I am in Vancouver next.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Park is also a 100+-year-old municipal park that now spreads across 617 acres. It is the second forest though with most of the trees not older than 80-100 years.
For more information, check out their website. 

Travel Tips for Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Vancouver

Capilano Suspension Bridge on Capilano River
Capilano Suspension Bridge on Capilano River
  • You need 1-2 hours to go through the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. 1 hour if you walk quickly, 2-3 hours if you walk leisurely and soak in the place.
  • Check the latest ticket prices here
  • British Columbia residents get a year-long access to the park when they purchase a single ticket. You need to have a BC Id to get this access.
  • There are guided tours that I assume would be great, When I visited in November, guided tours were on a holiday.
  • Follow the safety instructions like do not jump after fallen objects, especially mobile phones.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Never been to Vancouver but hoping to go someday. This sounds like the perfect active thing to do there. And looks beautiful! It’s great you shared the history of the bridge because often we take advantage of beautiful things to do without even considering how it all got started. We would definitely want to go when there are Christmas lights up!

  2. Those Christmas lights in the jungle look pretty cool! I haven’t heard of the Capilano suspension bridge, its nice to know that they have the largest collection of totem poles. I can imagine it would be wet and not the best to visit during the rains but I do love your pictures and I see you had a great experience. The cliff walk looks like the sort of thing I love doing!

    • Medha – I was scared of the cliff walk both because of the height and because it was raining. If I happen to visit Vancouver in another season, I would again visit Capilano Bridge Park.

  3. The bridge looks awesome but scary! But I won’t be scared then haha because I’m not that terrified of heights! So November is a rainy season? The forest is so beautiful even when it’s wet because of rain, and those white Christmas lights in the middle of the jungle. Would love to visit here when I get the chance! I have a cousin who lives in Canada with her family!

  4. I’ve heard a lot about Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, and it’ll definitely be on my list for our next trip to Vancouver. The rainforest views and looking down over the gorge seem so stunning – so cool that they were hanging Christmas lights when you were there – it must look incredible in December when it’s all lit up at night!

  5. Never been to Vancouver but heard a lot about Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. In fact, one of friend stays in the city and she keeps sending me pictures from there. It looks so beautiful. I am sure I’ll go crazy clicking it. Hoping to go there and click pictures myself someday.

  6. Imagine selling cream in the park and then buying it. I immediately thought about just how much she had to sell to afford it, but it’s a great story. The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park looks stunning and it is just the kind of place that I would enjoy visiting.

    • Janine – it gives me the realm of possibilities in life. You can own the place that you work at if you work hard for it. Here, I am not sure she made her wealth by selling ice-cream or she had other sources of income as well. Whatever she did, she created a landmark for the city of Vancouver.

  7. What a cool way to see the forest, I like that they called it the “squirrel’s-eye” view! The Christmas lights are a beautiful touch the the already stunning environs. Good safety tip to not jump after dropped objects! The swaying of suspension bridges has always left me a little queasy, but I guess that’s part of the fun? Thanks for the guide, can’t wait to visit, rain or shine!

  8. I was in Vancouver recently with my mom. We saw advertisements for the suspension bridge and both said “nope!” (we’re chickens, I know). The area looks beautiful though and it’s a great option for people braver than me!

  9. We were just at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park this past winter, and we loved visiting too! We must have visited shortly after you because we were there right when the holiday Canyon Lights events started. I’d love to go back and visit again another time of year too! And, isn’t the free shuttle service great?! That’s so nice that your driver dropped you off close to the museum and gave you directions to get to the gallery. How nice of her!

  10. This looks like such a cool bridge and a great place to spend the day. Love that there’s a free shuttle from several of the downtown Vancouver hotels. I’d probably visit when there’s less people, less chance that the bridge would sway. 🙂

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