An amazing bridge, cliff walk and tree top adventure only 20 minutes from down town Vancouver. We visited the incredible attraction that spans over the Capilano river. We thank Tourism Vancouver for allowing us to visit this beautiful place.
In 1888, George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and land developer, arrived in the young city of Vancouver in Canada. Mackay purchased 6,000 acres of dense forest on either side of Capilano River and built a cabin on the very edge of the canyon wall. In 1889 he suspended a footbridge made of hemp rope and cedar planks across the canyon with the help of August Jack Khahtsahlano and a team of horses who swam the ropes across the river. The ropes were then pulled up the other side and anchored to huge buried cedar logs.
Since then the bridge and grounds have been purchased and sold a number of times. The bridge has been re-built and strengthened while the surrounding areas have been developed into the spectacular tourist attraction they are today.
We decided to visit the bridge quite early in the day. While the queues didn’t seem too long, they certainly didn’t take long to get up to a reasonable size. We took a casual walk around all three main sections before heading back to certain areas to try and get a better photo opportunity.
The tour starts with some history and facts about the area and how it came to be. It is quite fascinating reading and seeing some of the tools that were used to create the first bridge and cabin on the grounds. Moving further down there are a number of totem poles, great wooden carved structures depicting animals and wildlife in brightly painted colours. Some over 15-20ft tall, they are certainly a grand statement.
The main Capilano bridge over the canyon is quite something. Suspended high above the raging river you feel quite unsteady on the cedar boards as you make your way across. There is no point attempting a photo here, it is too wobbly and there are too many people to guarantee a steady shot and unspoiled photo. Enjoy the springy experience and try and hold your nerves with the height!
The cliff walk is also not for the faint hearted. If you don’t like heights I suggest this isn’t the attraction for you. Wandering around the thin walkway that tightly hugs the cliff you feel a world away from the city that is only 20 minutes drive. Glass bottomed sections mean you get a view of the cliff face and river below, seeing how the massive trees grow along side and stretch to find the sunlight where the can. A beautiful site.
For more adventure you need to head over the bridge and up into the tree line. These walkways and small bridges take you from tree to tree amongst the incredible temperate forest. Cooling off near streams and watering holes full of fish and other wild watery creatures. A great place to take the kids to get a different view on the world and learn more about the types of tree that reside in the forest, mostly Western Red Cedar, Hemlock and Maple. You can if you wish also join one of the free tours that is hosted quite regularly and they also have a raptor show.
After cruising around the tree section we went back to the bridge to try and gain some more photos. But by the time we came back it was heaving with people. By lunch time, it was pretty busy everywhere and time to call it a day. However, once we were leaving the attraction shortly after lunch time, there was barely any one looking to go in.
Our suggestion for visiting would have to be either first entry or later in the afternoon. In the summer they offer a 30% discount for visitors after 5pm. Which, if you want a beautiful photo then this is a prime time with the light being in a much better position. Plus if you are staying in Vancouver there is a free shuttle every 15 minutes that does various pickups along the way. The drivers are friendly, witty and some even give you a free tour along the route for more fascinating facts.
This is definitely one of Vancouvers most popular outdoor attractions, and in the summer with good weather it will inevitably get busy. But pack yourself some food and water, pick up your camera and bring the family along for a great few hours enjoying the outdoors.
For more information and prices please visit the Capilano Bridge website.