28 Dec Holidays in Vancouver: Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Located a short drive outside of downtown Vancouver, Canada, you will find a world of deep canyons, giant douglas-fir trees, and a series of suspension bridges and pathways that are sure to test your fear of heights. And, if you visit between late November and January, you have the special opportunity to see the twinkling Canyon Lights display—perfect for getting in the holiday spirit. Where might you find this magical world you ask? It’s a place called Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
On our way to Taiwan, we had a 24 hour layover in Vancouver, and I was excited to find out that our layover would be just a few days after the special Canyon Lights event opened for the season. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is open year-round during the day, but during the Canyon Lights, the park is open late into the evening. We wanted to see the park during both the day and night, so we timed our visit to arrive just before sunset.
When we arrived at the park, it was just starting to get dark enough for the lights to show. We had about 45 minutes of daylight, and enough time to make our way to the suspension bridge and treetop adventure before the sun officially went down for the day. As the skies became darker and the lights grew brighter, the more magical the atmosphere became. Soon enough, the skies were twinkling with lights in every direction we turned. Canyon Lights is surely a spectacular sight to behold.
The star attraction at the park is the suspension bridge that sways over the Capilano River 230 feet below. The bridge stretches 450 feet across the canyon, and it was originally built all the way back in 1889. If you are scared of heights and leery about crossing the bridge, just remember that it can hold the weight of 96 full grown elephants…aka, a lot.
The Treetops Adventure is a series of seven suspension bridges amongst the trees, and it offers a “squirrel’s eye view” of the coastal forest. These suspension bridges reach up to 110 feet above the forest floor and have an innovative design and they are the only ones of their kind in the world. Built in 2004, the bridges are attached to eight, 250 year old douglas-firs without any nails or bolts. The tree collar system is adjustable and moveable to allow for the continuous growth of the trees without damaging them.
The Cliffwalk is one of the newest additions to the park. It is a series of walkways that jut out from the granite cliffs and are suspended over the Capilano River. The high and narrow paths stretch 700 feet along the cliffs and some portions are even made out of glass. We didn’t make it over to this portion of the park until after dark, so it was hard to fully grasp our surroundings. But, this section of walkways offer views that will test anyone’s fear of heights—it was a long way down and felt even spookier than the suspension bridge!
In addition to the thrilling heighted adventures, the park also offers a story center, guided history and nature tours, kid activities, and more. During Canyon Lights, you can find carols by the holiday band, and you can decorate gingerbread cookies and holiday ornaments in the Winter Craft Tent.
There are several cafes where you can find treats to eat and drink, such as coffees, hot chocolate, pastries, fudge, sandwiches, burgers, and ice cream. We ate dinner in Vancouver, so we just ordered some coffee in the park to help us stay warm on a chilly evening.
The gift shops have lots of fun items for sale, as well. Normally, I don’t typically find anything of interest in these type of gift shops, but I really enjoyed the Trading Post. Inside the gift shop, you can find clothing, jewelry, toys, decorations, and First Nations designs. Specialty foods, such as maple syrup, smoked salmon, homemade fudge, and chocolates are for sale at the trading post, as well.
If you don’t have a car during your stay in Vancouver, no need to worry—you can hop on the free shuttle that runs between downtown Vancouver and the park. Check the online schedule at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park website for current shuttle stops and times.
The park is open varying hours depending on the season, but generally it opens between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and closes between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. During the Canyon Lights event the park hours are 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Adult admission to the park is $42.95 as of December 2017 (with discounts available for kids, seniors, students, families, etc.)—originally, this price seemed a bit steep to us, but it is such a beautiful park and we really enjoyed our experience. We would happily pay the admission fee again to visit during the summer, as well.
Our evening full of lights and swaying suspension bridges was such a great time. A visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park was a fun way to not only kick off our trip to Taiwan, but also our holiday season!