Thrilling Perspectives of an Old-Growth Rainforest
Located in Vancouver B.C. on Canada's West Coast, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park delivers an old-growth temperate rainforest experience for everyone, from every viewpoint, while preserving the natural environment in the best possible way. Just a short drive across the famous Lion's Gate Bridge from downtown, the 27-acre Capilano Park is an ideal escape from Vancouver city life. Guest Author Sharon Kurtz uncovers the beauty and collaboration of First Nation's traditions, tranquility and thrilling adventure contained in this magnificent and magical natural place.
Entering the park on a thick carpet of pine needles, surrounded by towering evergreens and cedar scented air, you'll stroll through a forest of trees that have stood for over 1000 years...
History of the Park
In 1889, a Scottish civil engineer named George Grant Mackay purchased 6,000 acres along the Capilano River and built the first suspension bridge. Eventually, a sturdier bridge replaced the original, and the site transformed into a tourist attraction in the 1920's and 30's. Preserving the ambiance of the natural environment while making it accessible via displays, signage, and interactive exhibits has continued to make the park a world-class attraction. The name Capilano is the Squamish word for "beautiful river." Get a glimpse into the lives of BC's First Nations people at the Kia'palano Big House where the historical connection between First Nations culture and the natural world is highlighted.
The Suspension Bridge
Considered the 8th wonder of the world in its early days, one must traverse the swaying Capilano Suspension Bridge to arrive at a pristine forest on the other side of the canyon.
Four hundred and fifty feet (137m) long and suspended 230 feet (70m) above the Capilano River, the original bridge was supported by hemp rope - today suspended by 2-inch (5cm) diameter steel cables. The journey is a breathtaking thrill or daunting adventure if one is afraid of heights... but please don't let that stop you!
Following a granite precipice along the Capilano River, a series of labyrinth-like narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and walkways are an engineering marvel. There are only 16 anchor points drilled into the granite rock face to support this 700-foot (213m) Cliffwalk, designed to minimize its footprint on the environment. Platforms along the iconic U-shaped bridge offer breathtaking aerial views of the canyon below, where the river far below sparkles and water burbles over the rocks.
The Treetops Adventure
On the forest side, Treetops Adventure provides a series of seven mini-suspension bridges offering visitors a squirrel's eye view of a thriving west coast rain forest. This 650-foot canopy walk is a series of cable bridges constructed using recycled timber, with some spanning 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor. The walkways are fabricated using specially engineered and non-intrusive steel collars, providing secure support without harming the trees. The majestic Douglas Firs thrust upwards toward the sky, while birds twitter among the branches in the sun-dappled wood. There is a reverence in the air that slows the gait and lowers the voices of casual visitors.
If you go...
Complimentary Guided History and Nature Tours provide a quick but comprehensive understanding of the forest and Kia'palano.
The Trading Post Store offers an excellent selection of Canadian products and warm and dry outerwear - in case you didn't come dressed for the weather.
There are several unique on-site dining options, including the Cliff House Restaurant - a special locally sourced Vancouver/ West Coast Canada food experience.
Tourism Vancouver is a fabulous resource for planning and to help you fully enjoy your visit.