Last week we took a trip from the Seattle area to Vancouver to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and found that it is well worth the drive.
The idea to take his trip actually originated from a friends bucket list (hat tip to Tamera Yoachum). It was so much fun I decided to make a new category of bucket list items… the “Retrospective Addition”…. i.e. in retrospect, this adventure wasn’t on my list but it should have been.
The park is located outside of Vancouver, Canada which is 3 hours north of Seattle. Even if it is raining, which I suspect is often, a visit to the park is worth the drive. Here is the best part: time your trip right and you will find the whole place lit up with Christmas lights.
The lights aren’t too shabby and I loved them, but even more fascinating is the engineering used to establish the swings, platforms and walkways. The design uses lots of iron, cable, lumber, natural anchors and provides an elegant way for lots of people to interact with a woodland ecosystem.
Map of the Park
The park consists of three areas: the bridge, the treetop adventure, and the cliff walk.
Our adventure took place after dark in the rain so the photo conditions were tricky. As a result, they don’t even come close to representing the real thing, but I’m posting them here anyhow to celebrate the first “retrospective bucket list” item “checked off”.
For some really good shots, check out the Capilano Instagram Feed.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a 450 foot bridge suspended by cables. It was constructed in the late 1800s and is the focal point of the park. Crossing the bridge gives you a view of waterfalls and a raging river at the bottom of the canyon. As people cross the bridge swings and sways making low light photography difficult, but fun nonetheless.
Tree Top Tour
Once you cross the bridge you can climb some stairs into a series of smaller bridges. These allow you to climb about 100 feet above the forest floor. And this is where the engineering gets really cool.
The tree top tour is designed with cables and collars that wrap around the tree. There are no nails, screws, or penetrations into any of the trees that anchor the bridges or platforms. Just considering the logistics of moving and placing all of this equipment by hand without damaging the environment is mind boggling.
Of the three areas in the park, the tree top tour was my favorite because it reminded me of the Swiss Family Robinson.
Cliff Walk and Visitor Area
The final stop for us was the cliff walk. Since we did it at night we couldn’t really see the bottom of the canyon from some parts. I didn’t get any good pictures of this because there wasn’t much to see except a dark abyss…. But I suppose if you are afraid of heights this may be a good thing.
The cliff walk drops you off into a visitors area with a really cool gift store. You can pick up shirts, coffee mugs, art, smoked salmon, and locally produced honey and fudge. I really liked that the gift shop focused on things that were made locally.
This was a really fun, family friendly experience. We will likely turn this into an annual trek and Christmas and new year tradition.