360 Degrees of Vancouver
The most popular (and most touristed) spot from which to view Vancouver's skyline and surrounding topography is high atop the space needle observation deck at the Vancouver Lookout (555 W. Hastings St.; tel. 604/689-0421; www.vancouverlookout.com). It's a great place for first-time visitors who want a panorama of the city. The 360-degree view is remarkable (yes, that is Mt. Baker looming above the southeastern horizon), but the signage identifying points of interest could be a lot better.
The Other Suspension Bridge
Lynn Canyon Park—between Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour Provincial Park in North Vancouver—offers a free alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. True, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is both shorter and a little lower than Capilano, and it doesn’t have all the extra features like the Cliffwalk and Treetops Adventure, but the waterfall and swirling whirlpools in the canyon below add both beauty and a certain fear-inducing fascination. Plus, did I mention it’s free?
The park is located in a gorgeous 250-hectare (617-acre) rainforest of cedar and Douglas fir and is also home to an Ecology Centre (3663 Park Rd.; tel. 604/990-3755; www.dnv.org/ecology), which presents natural-history films, tours, and displays that explain the local ecology. Staff members lead frequent walking tours. The park is open daily from 7am to 7pm in spring and fall, 7am to 9pm in summer, and 7am to dusk in winter; it’s closed December 25 and 26, and January 1.
About 4km (2 1/2 miles) up Lynn Valley Road from the highway is Lynn Headwaters Regional Park (tel. 604/985-1690 for trail conditions), one of the best places close to the city where you can experience the breathtaking nature of the Northwest. Until the mid-1980s, this was inaccessible wilderness and bear habitat, but the park and the bears are now managed by the Greater Vancouver Regional Parks Department. Some of the 14 marked trails and scrambles of various levels of difficulty meander by the riverbank, while others climb steeply up to various North Shore peaks, and one trail leads to a series of cascading waterfalls.
To get to Lynn Canyon Park, take Hwy. 1 to the Lynn Valley Road exit, then follow Lynn Valley Road to Peters Road and turn right. For Lynn Headwaters Park, continue to the end of Lynn Valley Road. Or take bus no. 229 from Lonsdale Quay.