Sunday, October 3, 2021

[NORTH VANCOUVER] Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

As already mentioned in the previous article, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is just one of the many green spots and hiking trails in Vancouver. The others are free but could be a challenge to get to if you don’t have your own car. This is where Capilano holds an advantage because it is arguably one of Vancouver’s most commercialized parks catering to tourists. I’m this short to calling it a tourist trap but if convenience is the only criterion, then it’s a tourist trap I’d gladly fall into.

If you are the DIY type, then you have various options. You are most likely going to end up on the Canada Line of Vancouver’s subway. The terminus up north, Waterfront, is your stop. There you can go to Canada Place or just appreciate the harbor. If you are taking the free shuttle bus to Capilano, which requires showing your admission ticket if you bought it online, then you just have to wait in front of Canada Place next to the benches under the maple trees. The shuttle bus comes and goes every 30 minutes.

If you are buying the ticket at the park entrance, then you either take a bus transfer or a ferry heading to North Vancouver. This requires some familiarization with local bus routes which could be a hassle so just buy your tickets online via Viator, Tiqets or on the website of Capilano itself. The price doesn’t really differ that much (~CAD55). At least buying the ticket online means you can save it on your phone and just show it to the driver and at the park entrance.

The trip on the shuttle bus should just be 30 minutes but this depends on the day of your trip. Weekends see a lot of traffic going to and coming from North Vancouver and Whistler. Since there only appears to be one bridge on the west side, that narrow Golden Gate Bridge copy, expect to see some heavy traffic there on Saturdays and Sundays. It doesn’t help that you have to cruise along Stanley Park, yet another popular destination for tourists and locals alike, to get back downtown.

And so, back to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. What will you see here? Trees. Lots of trees. Of course, the main attraction is the suspension bridge which is shaky as hell. This park might not be the best place to be if you suffer from acrophobia. I don’t believe you’ll accidentally fall over the bridge down to a rocky death waiting for you below UNLESS you intentionally jump off, which in itself would still take a bit of an effort because those chains fencing the bridge on both sides are quite high.

Taking a selfie in times of COVID can be challenging and removing your mask is FORBIDDEN on the bridge, except that the rule is not strictly implemented. Sure, the staff will tell you not to do so when you enter the bridge but once at the middle, there really is nothing much they can do when visitors start taking off their masks for that much desired selfie. While the park is obviously open-air, the bridge is too narrow to maintain social distancing, thus, the mask mandate. You can remove your mask in most other areas where social distancing is possible, and it’s a literal breath of fresh air.

Next stop after the suspension bridge are the canopy walks. This park is no stranger to huge trees shooting up to the sky and the owners decided it would be fun to build canopy walks connecting some of them. Again, despite the height, this particular attraction felt safe because the barriers are tall enough to prevent any accidental fall. The challenge all becomes psychological once you are up there, what with the shaking canopy and the view of the ground below. That aside, the hikes are not that exhausting and the climbing is minimal. If you are a nature enthusiast, you can add Capilano to your collection of noteworthy hikes.

Should you go hungry, there is a restaurant in the park as well as some shops selling snacks. Proof of COVID vaccination is required to dine in and the menu is rather limited, so I suggest eating back at Canada Place or downtown before and/or after your trip. The park closes at 6 PM by the way, so plan accordingly.

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