The Capilano Park is one of the most popular attractions in Vancouver, Canada, and for a good reason!
When most people think of rainforests, they think palm trees and tropical weather. However, this pacific temperate rainforest is filled with evergreens in a mild climate. Visitors get to see the forest firsthand by visiting the park and walking along the suspension bridge. The bridge was built in 1889 and is 450 feet long and 230 feet above the Capilano River. There is so much to do in the park for both adults and families, so prepare to spend some time here!
What to Do
The first thing most visitors experience at the park is the suspension bridge. This rope bridge takes visitors right through the forest, among the cedars and firs. After walking along the bridge, visitors can check out the Story Centre to learn more about the early history of both the bridge and the city of Vancouver. At the end of the suspension bridge, travelers get a certificate stating they made it across, a great keepsake for your family.
Guided history and nature tours are given every hour. These tours provide visitors with the story of the creation of the bridge and provide details about flora and fauna of the forest. In fact, the guides explain why there is a rainforest on the West Coast in the first place!
The Cliffwalk is a newer attraction, having officially opened in 2011. This walk gives visitors access to otherwise inaccessible areas of the park through a series of walkways that wind through granite cliffs above the river. The Cliffwalk is high and narrow, and a part of the walk formed is a glass platform, which could get your blood pumping!
Another exciting attraction, the Treetops Adventure takes visitors among 1300-year-old Douglas firs across seven suspension bridges, some as high as 100 feet above the floor. This is a great option for those who might be a little afraid of the other bridges and is kid friendly. Kids will love exploring the treehouse at the beginning of the adventure!
The Kids Rainforest Explorer program is a self-guided, interactive tour for kids to help them get to know the rainforest better and collect research data at the same time!
Throughout the park, look for totem story poles that describe the lives of the First Nations native Canadians in British Columbia and their culture. Visitors can also see the owl exhibit and get right up close and personal to the local owls.
This park is located at 3735 Capilano Road in North Vancouver, Canada. Visitors can park in the car lot for five Canadian Dollars per car. They can also take a free shuttle directly to the suspension bridge from the Vancouver waterfront. The hours vary by the season, so be sure to check the park website ahead of time. Tickets range from $12 CD for children to $40 CD for adults, but they offer discounts for seniors, students, and BC residents.
Our kids wanted to see the suspension bridge most, and it didn’t disappoint. They had fun jumping up and down trying to sway the bridge enough for other patrons to feel unsteady. They were unsuccessful in this endeavor, a credit to the construction of the bridge.
The Cliffwalk was a little less successful. Both of our kids don’t appreciate heights and this Cliffwalk is akin to walking between the trees at a high level. The floor in some areas is just glass, so it was a little bit frightening. They did somewhat get used to the height and enjoyed the rest of their time.
They especially liked the different interactive stations where you meet rangers that tell you folk stories and trivia about the fauna and flora in the area.
All in all, the visit to the Capilano Park was a complete success. Families who like nature and outdoor activities will love exploring the various attractions of this rainforest while learning about the native wildlife.
Autism Travel Tips:
- The best time to visit is in the spring or summer. Around this period the weather is perfect, and the forest is exceptionally beautiful.
- Walking conditions are typical of a forest. If you want the best experience, you and your family need to stick to the paved path. Prepare your kid for a lot of walking on uneven territory.
- There are quite a number of stairs up to the Cliffwalk.
- Since your family will be outdoors, be sure to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and a poncho in case of rain. Wear long-sleeved shirts and closed toe shoes on this trip.
- Be especially aware if your child with autism happens to be an escape artist. Make sure your kid walks beside you at all times.
- The walks can get crowded midday. However, only the two main attractions, the suspension bridge, and the Cliffwalk, get especially crowded.
- Traversing the park takes anywhere between two to four hours to traverse, including the Cliffwalk and the suspension bridge.
- If you get hungry after exploring, there is a grill and a coffee shop. Do try the famous fudge at the Trading Post gift shop.
- Prepare your child for the fact that the suspension rope bridge does sway slightly and is pretty high. Parents should be aware it could be scary for some kids and adults. During crowded times it could be frightening for a child to get “stuck” in the middle.
- You can get free WiFi in the park.
- Parents and caregivers should understand no strollers, wheelchairs or crutches permitted into the main attractions of the park. However, patrons in wheelchairs or on crutches will receive complimentary admission to the park and can go on selected tours on the paved paths only.