I have a bit of a love affair with suspension bridges, I’ll admit. It all started in New Zealand and the atmospheric bridges you could find swaying gently between the trees out in the wilderness. We knew that when we headed to Vancouver, we had to explore what this incredible city had to offer in terms of nature and those magical suspension bridges.
There are two main suspension bridges in Vancouver: Capilano and Lynn Canyon. First things first, Capilano is part of a large tourist park, and therefore has an entry fee. Lynn Canyon on the other hand is on open land, and is free to explore.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should skip Capilano to avoid the costs however, because it is still a beautiful park and whilst we were somewhat deterred by the pricey entrance fee, we actually really enjoyed our time in the park. If you’re unsure of which one to visit, or whether you should visit both, here’s a little breakdown of the two:
The word Capilano actually is a First Nations name, originally spelt Kia’palano, meaning ‘beautiful river’. Kia’palano was the name of a great Squamish chief who lived in this area in the early 1800s. Over time, the name Kia’palano has been anglicised to Capilano. It was in 1888 that Scottish engineer and land developer George Grant Mackay arrived in Vancouver and bought the land near the Capilano River. He built a cabin on the edge of the canyon wall, and erected a rope bridge to cross the water in order to access it. The cabin was a haven for adventurous folk who would go tramping through the woods and would use the property as a place to rest and recuperate weary bones. Over the years, the property changed hands many times and was developed and promoted as a tourist attraction, until it became the tourist park that it is today.
Entry to the park is quite steep at $42.95 for adults, however there is currently a deal on for 30% off the price if you arrive after 5pm. We decided to do this, as the park is open until 8pm, so we had 3 whole hours to explore still. The park opens at 8:30am and closes at 8pm, but we would recommend either getting there early, or arriving in the evening to avoid the crowds and to guarantee a parking space.
The great thing about coming in the evening was that the car park was virtually empty, and we had plenty of space to wander slowly around the park without feeling rushed along by bustling crowds. By around 7:30pm, there were only a small number of visitors still in the park, and we managed to get some shots of the bridge without a mass of people on it.
If you are lucky enough to visit from late November onwards, you will be able to see the spectacle of ‘Canyon Lights’, where the park is all lit up with fairy lights and there are various other Christmassy and magical goings-on. I’m sure the cheaper evening discount won’t apply during this time, but it will absolutely be worth it!
The suspension bridge isn’t the only attraction here however, there is a treetop walk which takes you up through the canopies of the towering woody giants, and is scattered with mini suspension bridges. You’ll find squirrels and several varieties of bird up here, and if you manage to come when it isn’t so busy, the walk is incredibly peaceful.
The Cliffwalk is another popular attraction at Capilano, with its spectacular feats of engineering (did you know that this curved platform is held up by just one anchor point?!), and its glass-bottom floors, it really is quite special. Again, if you can come during golden hour in the evening, this walk is incredibly scenic. As the golden rays gently pierce the treetops, it feels like you are in another world, or at least as if you have stumbled upon something secret and not-often encountered.
You can come for the whole day, and I would have thought that there is plenty to keep you going for a whole day, with a cafe and a little log cabin serving hot chocolate, tea and coffee, why not bring a small picnic and treat yourself to a nice warm drink?
Whether you bring the kids and spend the whole day here letting off steam, or just pop in for a few hours in the evening, there is plenty of magic to be enjoyed among the treetops.
If your budget’s a little tight, or perhaps just one suspension bridge isn’t enough (as it wasn’t for us!), do find time to visit Lynn Canyon Park. The website says that the park doesn’t open until 10am, however you can still come anytime after the car park gates open at 7am, and we would strongly recommend that you get here early to beat the crowds. We arrived just after 7am, and managed to easily find a parking space, as well as almost have the suspension bridge to ourselves.
We thought that the suspension bridge was just as good here as at Capilano, if anything, perhaps even slightly better as it has a slightly steeper curve, making for really beautiful photos. We also met plenty of gorgeous dogs coming through Lynn Canyon with their owners for their morning walk, so the atmosphere here was really lovely too.
The light this early in the morning was strikingly beautiful, and it isn’t too hot in the summer months for exploring the many walking trails the park has to offer. The park is a cornucopia of peaceful walkways under mossy tendrils, alongside thunderous rivers. With hidden side-tracks heading off to the water’s edge, and spectacular views down from bridges upon high, this place is a walker’s heaven.
I am always at my happiest exploring a deep, winding forest path, and with the moss dripping from the branches and the woody scent of earth and ferns, I absolutely fell in love with Lynn Canyon.
So in conclusion? Both bridges are epic and beautiful, and we would recommend visiting both if you can, however perhaps if you are on a budget or would rather avoid the bigger crowds, opt for Lynn Canyon.
If you would like to see more, have a little look at our vlog of our time at the two suspension bridges:
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