During May through September Grouse Mountain transforms into one of Vancouver’s hottest summer attractions for tourists from around the world!
What is it with me and heights lately?
I can’t seem to get away from them. From swaying bridges and glass-bottoned cliff walks at Capilano Suspension Bridge to my most recent trip to Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver where I rode a gondola straight up a mountain face, these high adventures seem to keep finding me.
When we stepped onto the Skyride (gondola), the kids were quite excited to ride this bus/elevator and quickly chose a spot at the front to get the best view as we traveled up the mountain. It’s hard to believe this gorgeous mountain experience is only 15 minutes from the heart of downtown Vancouver.
The kids pointed out all sorts of beautiful city sites out one window and the mountains and lake out the other. They enjoyed themselves immensely, but the fun had only just begun.
After a picnic lunch at the top, we made our way to the World Famous Lumberjack show.
This show transported us back in time to when lumberjacks duelled it out with crazy games to determine who was the best, strongest, and fastest lumberjack around. Our kids were so excited about this show that they promptly (and quite decisively) changed their “when I grow up ” jobs from firemen to lumberjacks.
We were laughing, learning, and having a rootin’-tootin’ good time. In fact, we loved it so much, the kids asked to see it again before we left the mountain.
From this fantastic show, we headed over to meet the two resident grizzly bears who were enjoying the day in the sun.
These immense bears are stunning to see so close and gave us a laugh or two as they walked around looking for a place to cool down.
We enjoyed a birds of prey show and were reminded how wonderful these owls, hawks, eagles and even vultures really are.
And you’ll have to understand our joy when we learned that the raptors come from our Vancouver Island’s own Birds of Prey in the Cowichan Valley.
If you want to see the massive (and I mean massive) wind turbine at the absolute top, you’ll want to be sure and purchase the proper ticket to ride the next chair lift when you’re at the bottom of the hill.
We headed up the lift just like if we were skiing on the mountain, only for us there was no snow.
The kids enjoyed this first-time experience with their feet dangling over the ground and nothing but a bar protecting them from sudden death. Once again my height fears joined me, but as I was alone with Kaia on the chair, I thought it better to help her enjoy the moment instead of keeping her mom under control. Personally I think I did a pretty good job.
At the top of this lift sits the world’s only wind turbine that allows you 360-degree clear glass view at the top of the tower.
The Eye of the Wind, as it’s called, is a spectacular sight and most impressive when standing at it’s base.
The blades themselves are 122 feet long and each one weighs over a whopping 12,000 pounds.
As if we weren’t high enough, we stepped into its elevator and ascended to over 4,100 feet above the city of Vancouver and experienced the Eye of the Wind in all its glory.
It was stunning and pretty amazing being up so high in a piece of equipment designed to generate electricity and pass it off to the mountain resort below.
Believe it or not it can provide power to 400 homes for a full year!
After a good 6 hours on the mountain, we treated ourselves to Canada’s famous beavertails which horrified my daughter.
Jay, oh bless him, convinced Kaia we were going to eat real tails of beavers.
I was a bit surprised she believed him, but then after looking around at everything we had experienced that day, I can see why her mind was running wild with possibilities. If you haven’t ever had a beavertail before, go for the basic cinnamon/sugar combo.
It’s the purest way to go.
Grouse Mountain is bursting with Canadian themed attractions and full of family fun whether you are a visitor from around the world or an island next door.
We didn’t even go zip lining, paragliding, or on a helicopter tour, nor did we play Mountain Disc Golf or have Breakfast With The Bears, we also didn’t mention how we enjoyed the wolves, the bee hive tour or the on-site theatre. There just wasn’t enough time to do everything in one visit.
Finally, after a fun-filled day, we jumped back onto our shuttle provided by Vancouver Shuttle and headed out to Horseshoe Bay to catch our ferry back to Vancouver Island. The direct shuttle helped us maximize our day at Grouse Mountain and kept us from having to pay the huge price tag for vehicles on BC Ferries.
It was one AMAZING day trip for these Islanders and we’d happily do it all over again.
Traveling Islander Tips
Brought to you by Jay, my dear husband, who is forever making sure that those who follow in our footsteps have an even better experience than we did.
1. A little pre-planning goes a long way at Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is perfect for a day trip or two, but you’ll need to do a little pre-planning to get the most out of your visit. Thankfully their website has a very helpful “plan your day” app. We scheduled our day and kept a screen shot of it on our iPhone. Give a quick study of the interactive Grouse Mountain map and that’ll give you the lay of the land.
2. Don’t miss the wolves
I know it’s obvious to most, but I couldn’t tell where the wolves were on the map. They are located across the parking lot at the base of the mountain before going up the Skyride (gondola).
3. Don’t let the two chairlifts confuse you
First, you take the Skyride (gondola) directly from the parking lot to the attractions at the midway point. Second, if you bought the right ticket, you can enjoy a second scenic chairlift ride (Peak Chairlift) to the very top of the mountain to the location of the “Eye Of The Wind.”
4. Admission to Grouse Mountain, you’ve got three choices.
All “Experience” admission tickets include access to the mountain via round-trip Skyride (gondola), the Lumberjack Show, Birds Of Prey, Ranger Talks at the Grizzly Bear Habitat, and other summer activities (May long weekend-October long weekend).
Alpine Experience Admission Ticket is the standard ticket.
Want to add on the second chairlift ride (Peak Chairlift) to the very top of the mountain? Then you’ll need to purchase the Peak Experience admissions ticket.
If you want the second chairlift (Peak Chairlift) ride PLUS the thrill of unbelievable views in the world’s only glass viewPOD attached to a working turbine, then purchase the Ultimate Experience admission ticket.
5. Save some money…pack a lunch.
We were surprised at the diversity of dining options on Grouse Mountain – from fine dining or cafeteria style, to outdoor BBQ or quaint cafe. We, however, chose to bring our lunch on our backs and eat at one of the outdoor tables and save paying mountain top prices.
6. With a little sweat you can save yourself A LOT of money.
There are hiking trails all around the mountain and we saw many sweaty, fit people at the top who had just completed the mountain’s own famous Grouse Grind. This trail is a 1.8 mile trek almost completely straight up with 2,830 steps and an elevation gain of 2,800 feet. The record believe it or not is 23 minutes and 48 seconds, but for the average person you’re looking at three times that. Around 100,000 (crazy) people complete The Grind each year. You can hike your way up for FREE to all the mid-level mountain top attractions… but you’ll still need to buy a Skyride Gondola $10 ticket for the way down because the hiking trail is so steep it’s only a one way trail, UP.
A WARNING to all cheapskates out there, I mean value driven people… Don’t even think about it! It’s not worth dragging your pre-schoolers up this way with grandma in tow. Although you may make the news and save some money… the carnage is just not worth it in the end my friend.
Summer At Grouse Mountain
Address: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Location & Hours: grousemountain.com/location-hours
Free Summer Shuttle: There is a complimentary shuttle from downtown Vancouver with the purchase of any Experience ticket throughout the summer. Pickup/drop-off point is Canada Place. Available from late May through September. See Schedule.
While our summer visit to Grouse Mountain was complimentary, you can rest assured that our thoughts, opinions, and findings are our own as always.