If you plan to visit Vancouver, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the city’s best attractions, along with Granville Island. Not only is it a bustling place in the summer but an even busier stop in the winter as the bridge hosts Canyon Lights.
It’s a must-visit on a Vancouver itinerary, and expect to spend up to four hours exploring, depending on the crowds. If you prefer a less touristy attraction, consider an outing to Britannia Mine, north of Vancouver. It had mined copper ore for over 70 years and stood as one of the largest copper mines globally.
As the title suggests, the park has a jaw-dropping suspension bridge over the Capilano River. But the park is more than just a bridge. Spend some time exploring the canopies of the trees on the Treetop Adventure.
Also, test your fear of heights on the Cliffwalk, a narrow walkway suspended from a granite cliff. The park also offers complimentary rainforest ecotours, numerous forest trails, and North America’s most extensive private collection of First Nations totem poles.
Consider extending the thrill by riding Cypress Mountain’s coaster for the adventurous. Riders on the Eagle Coaster reach speeds of 40km/hr while flying down the 1700-meter track. It’s fast, fun, and a must-do attraction in Vancouver.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Hours
The Capilano Suspension Bridge hours vary depending on the time of year. In the summer (mid-May until September), the park is open from 9 am to 7 pm. From late January to the end of November, the park opens at 9 am but closes anywhere from 5 pm to 6 pm.
During Canyon Lights at Christmas time, the park’s hours are 11 am to 9 pm except for December 25th, when they are closed. If you want to see the Canyon Lights, the best time is at dusk, but it’s also the busiest time.
Nothing is more magical than seeing the park come to life as thousands of twinkling lights illuminate the trees, paths, and bridges.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Shuttle
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park’s address is 3735 Capilano Road in North Vancouver. If you drive, there is a pay parking lot directly across the street, but it fills up fast on busy days.
The last time I visited, the parking fee was CAD 7.50 all day. There is little to no street parking, and at Christmas time, this area is a congestion nightmare as visitors plan to travel there on a dry day.
If you stay in downtown Vancouver, there is a year-round, free shuttle bus to the park. The bus is available for Capilano guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Pick-up points are Canada Place, Hyatt Regency Hotel, outside the library at Liberty Square, and Blue Horizon Hotel.
The free shuttles run approximately every ten minutes, and the ride to the park takes 15 to 20 minutes. After your visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, you can enjoy a leisurely bus ride back to downtown Vancouver.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Tickets
Capilano Suspension Bridge tickets cost CAD 62.95 for adults, seniors (65 and better) CAD 60.95, students (17+ with ID) CAD 49.95, youth (13-16 years) CAD 34.95, child (6-12 years) CAD 24.95, and those under six years of age are free.
Admission fees are subject to tax. If you’re a British Columbia resident, as I am, your admission ticket is good for an entire year. Remember to bring picture ID like a driver’s license or BC resident card to receive your annual admission card.
It’s important to note that the suspension bridge, treetop adventures, and Cliffwalk are not wheelchair accessible. Still, anyone arriving at the park in a wheelchair will receive a complimentary pass to the park. Also, guests cannot use strollers at the attractions either.
If you’re looking for 2-for-1 tickets or discounted rates, you’ll likely not find any. The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a top-rated attraction and doesn’t need to discount its tickets, much like Disney Parks. However, the park sometimes offers a discount for after 5 pm entries.
The Laughing Bridge
George Grant Mackay constructed the first bridge in 1889. Made of hemp rope and cedar planking, the bridge was tied to cedar trees on either side of the canyon.
The First Nations people nicknamed it “the laughing bridge.” That’s because of the sound it made when the wind whistled between the planks.
In 1903, the first wire bridge replaced the hemp bridge, but it was just as shaky as the original. As a result, “the laughing bride” became known as the “nervous bridge.”
So, as you walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge, will you be laughing, or will you be nervous? Well, I had to ask!
Opened in 2011, the newest addition, Cliffwalk, is not for the faint of heart. The Cliffwalk starts with a spiral descending staircase that takes you to a narrow platform below.
Are you prepared for this heart-stopping walk along cantilevering pathways suspended from a cliff wall? The Cliffwalk is by far my favorite activity in the park.
While I have done the Cliffwalk many times, there is always someone who gets scared silly part way. If you change your mind, the journey back is narrow, and you must navigate against the flow of traffic.
As you walk the circular Cliffwalk, marvel at its construction. Sixteen anchor points drilled into the cliff by hand hold up the suspended walkway.
Some anchors penetrate the rock by as much as 6 meters or 19 feet. Looking up at the cliff, I couldn’t imagine anyone hanging down this rock face and drilling these holes.
Woven stainless-steel mesh makes up the majority of the walkway. It is not only durable but acts as an “invisible barrier” to the spectacular views below.
Ensure all your valuables are secure because anything dropped cannot be retrieved. If using your cell phone to take pictures, use a round-the-neck pouch or a handle.
After the Cliffwalk, the path continues through a beautiful rain forest along the sheer granite cliffs of the Capilano Canyon. The views of the canyon below are stunning.
Along the walk, there are plenty of opportunities for selfies on the narrow walkway. It’s interesting to see the trees hanging from the cliff walls’ side with their roots dug deep into the soil.
The one-way narrow pathway circles back to the gift shop and center of the park. From here, you can choose to walk the suspension bridge, browse the gift shop, or grab a bite to eat.
The Suspension Bridge
Initially built in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge spans 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above the Capilano River. A sign at the bridge explains that at 450 feet, it’s just about as long as two Boeing 747 airplanes wingtip-to-wingtip.
And it’s just as aerodynamic! While it’s not the highest bridge, that prize goes to the Golden Skybridge, but it is long and shaky. Expect to queue up for your walk across this wobbly bridge, as it’s rated as one of Vancouver’s best suspension bridges.
On the bridge, the staff warns you not to run, jump, or cause intentional shaking. Parents must hold small children by hand when crossing the bridge, and strollers are forbidden.
Also, dogs are required to be on leashes. I have seen many dogs in the park during the summer months, and it surprised me that none of them minded the swaying suspension bridge. I guess dogs don’t have a fear of heights? Only humans?
How strong is the Capilano Suspension Bridge? A sign boasts its two steel cables can hold the weight of over 1,300 people or 96 elephants at one time. In all my visits, I have yet to see a single elephant on the bridge, lol.
Once you’ve crossed the suspension bridge, pat yourself on the back. If you fear heights, know the only way back is across the bridge again. On the other side are a series of trails that meander through the rainforest.
If it’s rained recently, wear good waterproof running shoes because the trails could be wet and muddy. Also, bringing a lightweight jacket is good as the tree branches might surprise you with a gentle shower.
The Treetops Adventure offers a fantastic outing for both young and old alike. Built in 2004, the Treetops Adventure features a series of seven suspension bridges attached to eight 30-ton, 250-year-old Douglas-fir trees.
Climb a flight of stairs to what looks like a giant treehouse. Here, you’ll find a funky-looking weather station and the start of the one-way walk along the suspension bridges high up in the treetops.
As you trek from tree to tree, take time to admire nature’s palette of beautiful colors. The sound of songbirds fills the air and brings a little serenity.
The Treetop Adventure is a mastermind of engineering. The suspension bridges and support systems are crafted entirely by hand not to damage the natural ecosystem.
Surprisingly, the park used no major machinery or nails to put the bridges and platforms in place. Instead, specially designed steel collars circle the trees and spread the pressure out equally around the tree.
The collars are moved and loosened as the tree grows to prevent “choking” the tree trunk. If you look up at one of these collared trees, you’ll see the markings of where the supports used to be. Almost like a growth chart………only, on a tree.
The Trading Post
The Trading Post’s gift shop is a beautiful log cabin with wooden beams that ooze so much rustic charm. The selection of merchandise comes from Canadian artists.
Items include handmade leather bags, woolen sweaters, handcrafted jewelry, and various edibles. After your adventure in the park, check out the delicious fudges to satisfy your sugar needs.
Outside and during the summer months, guests can listen to the sweet sounds of a live band singing in period costumes. Grab a latte and a freshly made burger and rest your weary feet as you listen to the old-time songs.
Raptor’s Ridge Falconry
The Capilano Suspension Bridge has teamed up with Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey to allow visitors to see a raptor up close. Guests can see them in the summer, and handlers can answer all your questions.
The selection of birds includes falcons, red-tailed hawks, barred owls, and great-horned owls. The handlers are eager to share their knowledge with you and show off their feathered friends!
I have seen the beautiful birds many times and remember seeing a baby great-horned owl one summer. Its fluffy ball of feathers screamed utter “cuteness.”
It’s one of those moments when you want to ask, “can I take him home?” It had enormous eyes and a massive body for just being a baby.
Near the birds of prey area, a wooden cutout depicting popular birds invites visitors to spread their arms and compare their wingspan. My daughter has the same wingspan as a great-horned owl. Who knew?
While visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge in summer is delightful, the park comes alive in the winter as it hosts Canyon Lights. The park hangs thousands of colorful Christmas lights from the tall trees, bridges, and walkways. It’s one of the best places to enjoy Christmas lights in Vancouver.
This is a must-see if you’re visiting Vancouver or a local. Since it’s best to see the lights at dusk, remember to bundle up in a 3-in-1 jacket and bring gloves, a hat, and a scarf as it can get bitterly cold wandering in the forest after sunset.
My last trip to see Canyon Lights was in January 2019. It had rained frequently that month, and I planned a visit on a dry day and my day off work. When I finally made it, Vancouverites flooded the park, seeing as the raindrops stayed away.
The queue to walk across the suspension bridge was over an hour long, so I decided to venture to the Cliffwalk first. When I returned to the bridge, the wait time was longer. I queued for a staggering 1 hour and 45 minutes in freezing conditions.
I feared that once I crossed, I’d be waiting just as long to return. Luckily, there was no wait to go back. If you want to avoid the crowds and long queues, I suggest you visit on a weekday and maybe even consider a wet day.
During Canyon Lights, children will enjoy trying to spot many illuminated snowy owls in the trees. The park has the tallest living Christmas tree at over 150 feet tall.
I’m not sure I’d want the job of stringing the lights on that tree, lol. When you need a break from the cold, try your hand at gingerbread cookie decorating and make your own Christmas card in the winter pavilion.
Tips For Visiting
Here are some tips for visiting the suspension bridge.
During busy times, book your tickets online. During Canyon Lights, guests need to pick a time slot, and they sell out quickly.
Arrive early if you’re driving as parking fills up fast. Alternatively, use the complimentary shuttle from downtown.
Plan to visit at 5 pm, if you want to save money.
Don’t visit if you’re afraid of heights.
Don’t jump or run on the bridge.
Stay on designated pathways.
Check the weather forecast before visiting and dress for the weather.
Wear close-toed shoes instead of sandals or flip-flops.
Happy travels ~ Karen