A Bird’s-Eye View of Vancouver’s Forests: Canopy Tours

greenheart canopy

The West Coast temperate rain forests around Vancouver are filled with towering Douglas Firs, western hemlocks and red cedars.  Surviving old growth trees, some nearly a thousand years old, rise hundreds of feet into the mountain air.  For travelers, one of the most unique – and hair-raising – ways to experience these forests is from above.

Canopy walkways – platforms and swinging bridges hung high in the forest – offer visitors a bird’s-eye view of Vancouver’s natural splendor.  Constructed out of steel cables, the wobbly walkways run from tree trunk to tree trunk, in some cases hanging 100 feet above the forest floor.  At those heights, you’re eye to eye with chattering squirrels and nesting birds and immersed in the majestic green canvas of the rain forest.

There are two options in the city for adventurers interested in exploring the canopy.  Both are completely safe, with safety rails and security netting, but nonetheless aren’t for the faint of heart.

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A Bird’s-Eye View of Vancouver’s Forests: Canopy Tours

Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Opens June 3, 2011

Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park—home to the eponymous suspension bridge that is one of B.C.’s top attractions—has just unveiled its newest, thrilling attraction: the 700-foot long (213 metres), 300-foot high (91 metres) Cliffwalk.

Cliffwalk is the brainchild of John Stibbard, Capilano Suspension Bridge’s VP of Operations. John knew that he wanted to create another exciting attraction—one that would bring visitors closer to the Capilano River—but it wasn’t until he was rappelling down the east face of Capilano Canyon that he had his epiphany: what if there was a way to build a walkway in that exact spot that would give visitors a chance to share these breathtaking views and heart-stopping sensations?

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Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Opens June 3, 2011

Halloween and Harvest Fun at Capilano Suspension Bridge

Photo: Capilano Suspension Bridge

For most people, Capilano Suspension Bridge is scary enough already.  The 137-meter-long bridge swings a lofty 70 meters above the Capilano River.  As you cross it, the bridge starts to sway violently from side to side.   Only a pair of steel cables and chain-link fencing keep you from plunging right over the side.   Even though it’s safe as can be – and strong enough to support the weight of a fully-loaded jet airliner – the bridge feels downright rickety.

Now, imagine a dose of Halloween horror on top of all this.   For Halloween weekend, Oct. 30 and 31, Capilano will be showing off its spooky side.  A massive display of carved and lit Jack-o-lanterns will be set up throughout the park.  And fortune tellers will be brought in to predict your future (like whether you’ll make it to the other side of the bridge or not).

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Halloween and Harvest Fun at Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge: Reconsidered

Photo: Remy Scalza

Talk to travelers who have visited Vancouver recently and chances are good they’ve been to Capilano Suspension Bridge, the iconic 100-year-old landmark on the city’s North Shore.   The bridge, swaying 230 feet above the Capilano River, is Vancouver’s tourist attraction par excellence – rooted in nature, rich in history, interactive and just a little bit scary.  700,000 people visited last year, making it one of the most popular attractions in the entire country.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge: Reconsidered

Vancouver’s Urban Powwow: July 9-11

Photo: Remy Scalza

During the Olympics, First Nations culture took the spotlight in Vancouver, with performances and dancing throughout the city and even an Aboriginal Pavilion dedicated to sharing values and legends.  But this isn’t always the case.  While there are museum exhibits devoted to First Nations history, as well as a wealth of galleries showcasing traditional carvings, finding vibrant displays of contemporary, authentic Aboriginal culture isn’t always easy.

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Vancouver’s Urban Powwow: July 9-11