Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Kelly
One of the best things to see while you’re in Vancouver BC is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge is 450 feet long and is suspended across the Capilano River. The bridge hangs 230 foot drop down to the river below. In addition to the world-famous suspension bridge, the park also has a number of attractions including a cliff walk and treetop adventure. We created this post as a complete guide to visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge!
About the Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge was first built in 1889 with hemp ropes and cedar planks by a civil engineer. In 1903, it was upgraded to a wire bridge. It was rebuilt again in 1956.
Currently 1.2 million tourists visit the park each year. The name Capilano comes from the First Nation’s word Kia’palano, which means beautiful river.
The bridge has been featured in a number of media productions. You can see it in shows like MacGyver and Psych. I even learned about the bridge when it was featured in a famous social psychological experiment! The experiment was conducted by Dutton and Aron and was published in 1974. (I’m linking the scientific article that features the bridge if you’re interested!) If you’re a nerd like me, you might enjoy going to the bridge and thinking about this famous study!
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You can also book your tickets to Capilano Suspension Bridge on Viator.
6 Things to Do While at Capilano Suspension Bridge
1. Walk the Suspension Bridge
The highlight of the park is, of course, the suspension bridge. At 450 feet long, you have a nice long walk across the river. Feel free to stop and look at the river below. The cable bridge is strong enough to hold a 747 fully-loaded airliner!
The best time to see the bridge is either right when the park opens, or at the end of the day near sunset when the park closes. We’d recommend that you go toward the end of the day when the park starts to clear out. The lighting will be better and you’ll be more likely to get a photo without people on the bridge. The early morning is also a good time, but you’ll have to be one of the very first people in line to get a photo without other people.
We went in the late morning, though, and still managed to get a photo or two without people. We just had to be really patient and wait for a time when there was no one on the bridge. (That is a gamble though!)
You can take photos directly on the bridge, or have someone safely take a photo for a side shot.
If you have small children, keep a close eye on them. The bridge itself has wire fencing on each of the sides. The park advises that if you have a toddler or baby with you, make sure they are kept below the level of the railing or carried in a baby-carrier. Do not run on the bridge or intentionally shake it. There are no strollers, wheelchairs, or crutches allowed on the bridge itself.
2. Walk the Cliffwalk
One of our favorite parts about the park was the Cliffwalk! The Cliffwalk consists of suspended walkways along a granite cliff face high above the river. You’ll walk through rainforest vegetation and you’ll see the suspension bridge from a whole new angle.
3. Experience the Treetops Adventure
Go for a walk in the forest canopy! The Treetops Adventure is a series of seven suspension bridges that are attached to eight gigantic Douglas-Fir trees. (The trees are approximately 250 years old!) Don’t worry, though, the trees were not damaged when creating this treetop experience. They used an innovative system of tree collars that can be adjusted over time as the trees continue to grow. Thus, there are no nails or bolts in the trees themselves! The bridges and viewing platforms are fully fenced and safe for families. We really enjoyed walking through the forest canopy. It was a unique experience!
4. Check Out the Story Centre
The Story Centre is filled with artifacts and antiques that speak to Vancouver’s early history.
5. View the Totem Poles
Learn about the local indigenous cultures as you see the story poles. The park is located on the traditional territory of the Skwxwú7mesh Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation. In the mid-1930s, one of the park owners invited local native people to bring totem poles to the park. Since then, it has become the largest selection of privately owned totem poles in the world.
6. Learn About the Rainforest
The Living Forest is a self-guided interpretive trail along the forest floor. Signs placed throughout the walk will teach you about the forest floor, the trees, and the canopy above. Some of the trees in the rainforest are 1,500 years old!
How to Get to Capilano Suspension Bridge
Capilano Suspension Bridge is located about 15 minutes north of Vancouver BC. If you’re staying in downtown Vancouver, you’ll most likely drive right through Stanley Park on the way to the bridge, so it’s convenient to combine both activities in one day.
There is a paid parking lot located at the park. There is limited RV parking, although the park cannot accommodate Class A vehicles. You are not allowed to park overnight.
If you don’t want to drive, there is a free shuttle that can pick you up from several different locations in downtown Vancouver. The shuttle is free and you don’t need to make a reservation, but you do need to show proof that you purchased a park ticket. Pets are not allowed on the shuttle.
You can also bike to the park or take public transportation.
Dining at Capilano Suspension Bridge
There are several dining options within the park. Each of the restaurants focuses on locally-sourced ingredients, and the park participates in the Ocean Wise Seafood Program.
The Cliffhouse Restaurant is open from 11am to 5pm. The restaurant overlooks the canyon and they also have patio dining. The restaurant was named for the first Cliffhouse that was built on the edge of the canyon in 1889. The Cliffhouse Restaurant menu consists of craft beers, clam chowder, burgers, salmon, and much more. (They also serve mini donuts for dessert with chantily cream and maple syrup!)
Loggers’ Grill is open from 11:00am to 6:30pm. This is a quick service counter featuring things like burgers and hot dogs. (Beyond Meat options available here as well.)
The Bridgehouse Cafe is located across the street from the main entrance. The cafe sells coffee, espresso, baked goods, and sandwiches.
The Cabin is located on the other side of the suspension bridge. Once you cross the bridge, feel free to treat yourself to a beverage, hot chocolate, or some baked goods. Be sure to try their signature Beaver Balls. When you order the Beaver Balls, you’ll receive a cup full of mini pancakes that are drizzled with Canadian maple syrup and sprinkled with sugar.
(Outside food and drinks are not permitted within the park.)
Restaurants Near Capilano Suspension Bridge
If you’re looking for restaurants near Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, we recommend looking for restaurants in West Vancouver. Here are a few suggestions:
- Beach House Restaurant ($$$): This restaurant has views of the water and an extensive menu including seafood towers and platters.
- Mangia E Bevi Ristorante ($$$): This restaurant has traditional Italian courses.
- Zen Japanese Restaurant ($$$): This restaurant serves sushi, nigeri, sashimi, and more.
- Wooden Fish ($$): This restaurant serves modern Vietnamese cuisine.
Other Activities at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
If you have young children, they might enjoy the Kids’ Rainforest Explorers Program. This is a self-guided program which is essentially a scavenger hunt of the surrounding forest. Kids will learn all about the rainforest as they conduct their “research”, and they can get a prize when exiting after they have completed the program.
During the winter, the park hosts Canyon Lights. The suspension bridge and the surrounding park glows with stringed lights. The entire forest becomes a winter wonderland with the tallest Christmas trees you have ever seen! Along the Cliffwalk they also add a light tunnel called the “Arc de Lumina”, perfect for your Instagram account!
What to Bring to Capilano Suspension Bridge
When visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge, we recommend that you bring the following:
- A portable charger (so your phone doesn’t run out of battery)
- A good rain jacket (a lightweight shell)
- Comfortable walking shoes (you’ll be on your feet all day)
- Your camera (there are so many good photo spots)
- A water bottle (this one is insulated)
Looking for a place to stay? We recommend that you look into the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. This hotel has a rooftop hot tub with views of the city, a casino, and lots of dining options. We stayed there during our last trip to Vancouver, and the views from our room were absolutely spectacular!
What if it rains at Capilano Suspension Bridge?
Even if it rains, it’s still fun to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge has a nice moody feel when it rains, and there will likely be less crowds. Plus, the park even offers free biodegradable rain ponchos. It’s definitely worth a visit in the rain!
Can you bring dogs to Capilano Suspension Bridge?
The Capilano Suspension Bridge website states that “good leashed dogs welcome.”
Can you bring a drone or selfie stick to Capilano?
Drones are not permitted in Capilano Suspension Bridge park. Selfie sticks are not permitted on the attractions.
How far away is Capilano Suspension Bridge from Stanley Park?
Capilano Suspension Bridge is located about 15 minutes north of Stanley Park.
How much time should you spend at Capilano Suspension Bridge?
We would recommend that you spend two to three hours experiencing all of the attractions at Capilano Suspension Bridge park. You may wish to stay longer if you dine at the park.
Is Capilano Suspension Bridge worth it?
It’s definitely worth it to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge. I’ve visited the park several times throughout my life, and I have always enjoyed going. I’ve never once thought “that was a waste of time” or “that wasn’t worth it”. The attractions are a unique way of experiencing the rainforest, canyon, and river.
Summary: Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver
Visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of our favorite things to do in Vancouver BC. Whenever we take guests to Vancouver, we always make room for Capilano in our itinerary. We hope this post was helpful in planning your visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge!
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.