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Things to Do in Vancouver: The Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the Capilano River in North Vancouver. It’s 136 metres (446 feet) long and hangs 70 metres (230 feet) above the river. Or to put it another way: it’s long enough to accommodate two 747 planes lined up wingtip-to-wingtip (and strong enough to hold them!) and tall enough to come up to eye level on the Statue of Liberty.

The first incarnation of the bridge was a hemp rope model, built in 1889 and replaced in 1903 with a metal one. The metal wire bridge remained in place until 1953, when Rae Mitchell purchased the property and began promoting the bridge as an attraction.

In 1956, Mitchell rebuilt the entire bridge in a staggering five days and added trails on the west side, encouraging more people to come spend a day at the famous Capilano Bridge. Today, more than 800,000 people visit the bridge each year, coming not only to walk across the gently-swaying bridge, but also to explore the many trails on either side of the river, to learn about the native people who once lived there, and to play on the hanging walkways of the Treetops Adventure located within the park.

Guided eco-tours of the park are available and there are three dining options onsite. The Bridge House restaurant is located across the street in the former home of Bridge owner, Mac MacEachran, and offers lunch, afternoon tea and early dinner from May to October. The year-round Canyon Cafe offers small bites like soups and sandwiches, and the Loggers Grill (May to October) serves barbecue items and light fare like salmon burgers.

Hours and costs:

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is open year-round, except Christmas Day, and hours vary with the season (though it’s open from at least 9 am to 5 pm all year). All park attractions are included in the price of admission, which is $29.95 for adults, $18.75 for kids 13-16, and $10 for kids 6-12. Kids under 6 years old are free, and there are additional discounts for seniors and students with ID.

How to get there:

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located less then 10 kilometres from downtown Vancouver; the drive takes about 15-25 minutes depending on traffic. For those without a car, it’s still easy to reach, with a few different options available:

  • Take the free shuttle from Canada Place, the Marriott, Hyatt Regency, Blue Horizon Hotel or Westin Bayshore. The ride takes 15-30 minute depending on where you’ve been picked up, and costs nothing, even if you aren’t staying at one of the hotels. Additionally, the driver will fill you in on facts about the Bridge and Vancouver along the way. The hours vary with the bridge hours but generally the first pick-up is at 9am and the last return from the bridge leaves two hours before closing time.
  • Via public transportation from downtown, take bus #246 and then connect with bus #236 to Capilano Suspension Bridge, or take the Seabus from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay and then transfer to the #236 bus.

Tips for visiting:

Most tourists who go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge may also be thinking about a visit to Grouse Mountain. Doing both in the same day will save you time, money, and probably a bit of frustration. Start by taking the free shuttle to Capilano Bridge, then board the #236 bus for the 8 minute ride north to Grouse Mountain. Plan on arriving early and spending at least 3-5 hours there. When you’re done, take the bus back to the bridge. With your Grouse Mountain ticket, you’ll get a coupon good for $2 off admission to the bridge.

Plan on spending 2-3 hours at the bridge; at the very least, you’ll need about an hour to cross the bridge, explore the 650-feet of hanging bridges and treetop platforms of the Treetops Adventure, and make it back to the other side of the river. If you’re traveling with kids or plan to have a bite to eat while there, you could easily stretch your stay to 4-5 hours. Be aware though, if you plan on staying that long, you won’t be able to do both Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Bridge in one day.

For TBEX attendees:

The Capilano Suspension Bridge offers free admission to members of the media who email a request in advance.

Top photo by ***roham***