When we think of a suspension bridge we often think about the traffic of cities or some San Francisco helicopter panoramic.
But this is Vancouver.
We grew up in a forest and we’re not about to let architects take centre stage.
If you’ve ever wanted to walk on a bridge that floats through a forest that’s as wobbly as it is stunning, then you can’t miss North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
Over 800,000 people a year seek out this thrill and here’s how you can do it.
How to Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
- The Suspension Bridge
- Capilano Suspension Bridge Park + things to do
- Price and tickets
- 13 visiting tips
Capilano is an anglicized version of the indigenous word kia’palano (beautiful river).
It was Scottish developer George Grant Mackay that bought property on both sides of the river canyon who built the first bridge with hemp rope and ceder planks.
After Mackay’s death the bridge changed hands multiple times and the newest wire-cable version was built in 1903.
In the 1920’s locals began calling it the 8th Wonder of the World.
It was only in 1983 though that Capilano Suspension bridge went from a casual stop-off to a destination attraction – under the guidance of owner Nancy Stibbard.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The modern version is a 460 foot (140 m) long simple suspension bridge.
This type of swing bridge, built entirely without towers or piers, dangles 230 feet (70 m) above the Capilano River in the middle of Vancouver’s coastal rain forest.
And you can walk on it!
The subtle sway and vivid view really gets the heart rate up, resulting in one of the most unique tourist experiences you’ll ever have.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is also home to the world’s largest private collection of totem poles, hosts many seasonal events, and is a history lesson with exhibitions explaining the area’s history and First Nations past.
Stay tuned for my 13 visiting tips at the bottom of the article, though I’ll give you my first here if you’re feeling a little woozy at the idea of crossing:
Holding onto the handrails of the bridge actually increases the sensation of swaying so if you’re looking to feel a bit more secure, let go!
Sounds crazy, I know 😉
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
In addition to walking across Capilano Bridge you’ll also have a ton of extras included in your ticket that make the visit totally worthwhile.
The Cliff Walk
The opening of the Cliff Walk gave the area a second great attraction in June of 2011.
What you get here is the chance to meander your way through the heights of the forest on 20 inch wide platforms, bridges, and stairs protruding directly out the side of a granite cliff face.
Your heart will skip a beat in the teeth-grinding glass floor portion.
With just 16 anchor points along the entire route (an engineering marvel and an environmental necessity) you’ll swear you’re seconds from death.
Let’s start with eight 60,000 pound old forest Douglas Fir trees that are old enough to remember the 1750’s, shall we?
Now, what we want to do is connect them with seven suspension bridges and give the average person an adventurous walk with an eagle-eye view of the forest without inducing full-on panic-mode like our previous two tremble-inducers.
You’ll walk 110 feet (33.5 m) over the forest floor and take in that cedar-scented air.
The best part of all?
At no point have the old-growth trees been penetrated with bolts or nails meaning they’ll remain healthy for years to come. And furthermore, the attraction accommodates future tree growth.
The Story Centre
The good folks at the Capilano Suspension Bridge wouldn’t let you get away with some local education would they?
You’ll see the area as it was a hundred years ago through the eyes of the Capilano Tramps, the early pioneers who made the harrowing trip up to the bridge not for photo opportunities but for life’s necessities.
Take a photo with one of them and their turn of the century dress, check out some flip books on the bridge’s construction and the history of Vancouver, and experience artifacts and photo murals that bring the area to life!
The area’s earliest human connection goes back thousands of years to the local indigenous populations. This history is marked by several captivating totem poles throughout the park.
This is where you’ll be educated on the deep connection of indigenous people with the natural world.
But what really gets my attention every time are the stunning displays of the unique Coastal First Nations art.
Complimentary guided tours are available for those looking for clarification of the area’s unique history. Learn tales from the area’s earliest settlers to the construction of todays world-class tourist spectacle from your knowledgeable local guide.
You’ll also receive a unique and interactive look into the area’s flora and fauna from a climate expert – so be sure to try and stump them with whatever question should come to mind!
The free tours are offered hourly.
The Cliff House Restaurant overlooks the entire canyon and fires out a casual West Coast menu of OceanWise seafood, craft beer, and BC wines.
There are no reservations: tables are first come first served (12:00 pm – 9:00 pm)
If you’re a bit more rushed but don’t want to skip on the quality there is also some great barbecue at Loggers Grill. The local, sustainable, and ethically-raised proteins here are top notch.
Try the sirloin burger or a Canadian classic: poutine.
Those not looking for a full meal can also find great locally roasted Moja coffee at Bridge House, small batch ice cream (try the maple walnut!) at Ice Cream Creamery, and quality baked goods and beverages at Dr. Wood’s Cabin.
The aptly named Trading Post takes gift shops to a whole new level. The store is known for its Vancouver-friendly variety of local specialty food products, wind and rain savvy clothing brands, and First Nations art and jewelry.
You’ll also get your fix of Canadian collectibles and souvenirs .
All the products here ship to anywhere in the world.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Price
The great thing about getting tickets for Capilano Suspension Bridge is that there are no hidden costs or annoying add-ons: what you see in this article is all included, minus the food and gifts of course!
- Adults: $53.95
- Senior (65+): $48.95
- Student (17+ with id): $39.95
- Youth (13-16): $29.95
- Child (6-12): $16.95
- Under 6: free
Capilano Suspension bridge tickets are non-refundable and are valid for one year from the date of purchase. You can purchase your skip the line tickets through our partners online, which include a free downtown shuttle.
Unfortunately Capilano Suspension bridge discounts are only available for residents of BC (with valid identification). Locals are able to visit an unlimited number of times for one year with the purchase of a single ticket.
Tickets are also free for wheelchair visitors and people on crutches, however please note that due to the nature of the attractions these people won’t be granted access.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Hours 2020
- November 20th to January 24th: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
- January 25th to March 13th: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
- March 14th to April 10th: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
- April 11th to May 15th: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
- May 16th to September 7th: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
- September 8th to September 20th: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
- September 21st to October 11th: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
- October 12th to November 19th: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
How to Get There
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located in the suburb of North Vancouver. But don’t worry, it isn’t located hours down the highway. The bridge can be reached in as little as 15 minutes from downtown via three different means.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Shuttle
If you’ve booked one of the top Vancouver hotels downtown then your best option is to take the free shuttle service offered for paying customers at the following locations:
- Library Square (Homer and Robson)
- Blue Horizon Hotel (1225 Robson st.)
- Melville Street (Hyatt Hotel)
- Canada Place (info kiosk on Canada Place Way)
These shuttles are available year round and for guests on a first come first served basis. Keep in mind however that the shuttles are not available for groups of 15 or more.
Hours depend on the season but generally run between 8:35 am and 5:00 pm.
From downtown you can also take bus #246 from the North side of W. Georgia Street.
There is also the option to take the Seabus from Waterfront Station over to Lonsdale Quay – from here you can grab bus #236 from the Lonsdale Bus Loop.
For bus schedule and route info you can visit Translink.
Driving + Taxi
Expect about a 20-40 minute drive from downtown Vancouver depending on traffic. I’d highly recommend that you try to avoid rush hour all together due to the traffic on the Lion’s Gate Bridge.
As you can see, it’ll double your travel time.
You can also try ride sharing or grab a reasonable $35.00 Vancouver taxi from downtown.
13 Visiting Tips for Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Buy your tickets online to avoid long lines (especially in high season)
- Go as early as possible or after 5:00 pm to avoid the crowds
- Set aside about two hours to visit the entire area properly
- Pack your own lunch if you don’t want to pay premium prices for food
- Looking to save money? There is a 30% reduced ticket at twilight (after 5:00 pm)
- If rain is in the forecast bring shoes with grip for maximum comfort
- Those with mobility issues or vertigo are recommended against visiting
- Raining? Grab a complimentary yellow rain poncho from guest services
- Try to combine your visit with a day at Grouse Mountain or Lonsdale Quay
- Do the Cliff Walk first since it’s the ‘least scary’ scary attraction
- Leave your drones and selfie sticks at home as they are not permitted
- Take advantage of the free WiFi to make your friends jealous with pics!
- Stay on the designated walkways or you may be kicked out of the park
Where is Capilano Suspension Bridge?
Capilano Suspension Bridge is found in the mountainous area of North Vancouver, across the harbour to the north of downtown.
Is Capilano Suspension Bridge free?
Unfortunately the bridge is not free owing to its massive maintenance fees as well as the availability of many secondary attractions on the site. Those looking for a free suspension bridge in Vancouver should check out Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.
Is Capilano Suspension Bridge safe?
To date there have been no malfunctions with the bridge and the only fatalities have been the result of foul play and/or undue care and attention. Anybody taking standard precautions will not be in danger of any kind.
Is Capilano Suspension Bridge scary?
Some people are frightened by the gentle sway of the bridge and the dizzying effect of its height – but most report a pleasant feeling of being suspended in the air.
When is the best time to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge?
The best time to visit Capilano Bridge is early in the morning shortly after opening and later in the evening. It is suggested to avoid peak hours (between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm) especially on holidays and weekends.
How much time does it take to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge?
In order to see all of the attractions properly and fit in a coffee and some careful study of the information a visit should take about 2 hours. The minimum time to cross the bridge and come back for visitors in a rush would be about 30 minutes.
How long is Capilano Suspension Bridge?
Capilano Suspension bridge measures 140 meters (459 feet) long – about the size of some of Vancouver’s biggest skyscrapers.
How high is Capilano Suspension Bridge?
The bridge is 70 meters (229 feet) off the ground – about the height of a 21 story building.
Is Capilano Suspension Bridge kid friendly?
Yes, though it is naturally advised for any parents and/or guardians to pay great attention to any children during the visit – also, babies must be carried below the level of the railing when crossing the bridge.
Is Capilano Suspension Bridge stroller-friendly?
No, strollers are not allowed on the bridge, Treetops Adventure, or Cliff Walk.
Is Capilano Suspension Bridge dog-friendly?
Yes, dogs on a leash are allowed to cross the bridge.
Is there a Capilano Suspension Bridge discount code?
Unfortunately discount codes are a rarity at the bridge, as such I recommend buying via the official site.
Manage the Sway of Doubt By Writing Us
Yes, I’ve taken myself to task and written about all I could about the Capilano Suspension Bridge but there’s always something… what have I missed?
I’ll answer any comment or question as we try to (pardon the pun) bridge the gap between ignorance and Vancouver victory on your well-deserved holiday.