During our autumn road trip from Seattle to Tofino on Vancouver Island, we were eager to stop at many beautiful natural attractions and fall-focused activities along the way. Since it checked both of those boxes, we knew we had to make a stop at the iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in fall to explore this beautiful West Coast rainforest and enjoy their Halloween Canyon Frights event.
In addition to the well-known suspension bridge, the park also has a really cool treetop adventure with smaller swinging bridges, a suspended “cliff walk” with great views of the iconic bridge, and a winding boardwalk trail through the forest. Although we don’t have kids, I can see why this is such a popular option for families. The park even offers a scavenger hunt for the kiddos!
Here’s everything you need to know to prepare for a great visit …
A Quick History of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Located in North Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a popular attraction for locals and visitors. Of course, the namesake bridge is the main event since it is such a feat of engineering! A suspension bridge was first built across the Capilano River in 1889 by the landowner and civil engineer. It drew in adventurous locals who wanted to experience the bridge and dense forest environment.
As the property changed hands throughout the years, changes and additions were made. Most importantly for those concerned with safety: the bridge was upgraded from the original hemp rope to wire cable, First Nations were invited to place totem poles in the park, trails were made, and more attractions were added. In the 1980s, Nancy Stibbard took ownership and turned the park into the world-renowned destination it is today.
4 Must-See Sections of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
There are four main areas of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park as well as multiple other attractions. See the full list here.
1. The Iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge
This bridge, spanning 137 meters (450 feet), is the main highlight of the park and really is a wonder to wobble across. It also connects the two sections and is the only way across the river. At 70 meters (230 feet) above the river and with a lot of movement, it may be a bit of a scary experience for anyone with a fear of heights. However, it is strong enough to hold 75 adult elephants!
2. Treetops Adventure
One of our favorite parts of the park is the Treetops Adventure. It is like exploring a fairy-tale land, with bridges separated by treetop landings. It starts at a little treehouse and gives you great views of the park.
This semi-circular walkway is attached to the granite rock of the cliff and gives you great views of the bridge and river below.
4. The Living Forest Trail
If you are looking for the best place to take in this beautiful rainforest, the boardwalk trail in the Living Forest section is the best area for this!
Other great attractions to enjoy are:
- learning history at the story centre near the entry
- taking part in the kids’ Rainforest Explorer scavenger hunt ( with a reward at the end!)
- visiting the birds at Raptor’s Ridge
You can also catch a planned cultural or nature chat, stop for food, or shop at the trading post for unique souvenirs.
Why Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Fall?
British Columbia, Canada, is a well-known fall destination. The crisp air, abundance of wildlife, and colorful leaves make it an ideal location for leaf peeping and enjoying nature. It is also much less busy than the summer season since kids are back in school.
Planning a visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in fall during a trip to Vancouver is lovely because the weather is perfect for strolling along the trails and they also decorate for the season! Along with cute autumnal decor, the park hosts Canyon Frights for a few weeks in October. This Halloween event is a fun option for all ages and adds to the overall park experience! (See our video.)
About Canyon Frights: Annual October Halloween Event
I’m not into haunted houses or other scary Halloween activities. So, I was happy to learn that Canyon Frights is very family-friendly and just offers a fun vibe with some low-key jump scares. Plus, they encourage visitors to dress up which I’m always thrilled to do! (Even if we’re the only adults in costumes. haha!)
Canyon Frights takes place on the weeks leading up to Halloween. In 2023, the dates are October 13-31.
I love a good themed adventure (check out another Halloween fave). And they really go all out with decorating for Canyon Frights with cute and creepy skeleton scenes throughout the park, as well as spiders lurking in the corners and under the trails. Plus, plenty of cute pumpkin and fall decor as well. There are definitely some great spooky and adorable photo opportunities, in addition to the usual epic views!
Being dressed up made it way more fun and we got lots of laughs. It also meant our photos were way cuter! Since we are carry-on-only packers, I was happy to find a minimalist butterfly costume with foldable wings and an antennae headband. We lucked out and stumbled upon a kids’ dragon costume set that fit Buddy and it was hysterical on him! I highly suggest dressing up!!!
Important Notes for Planning Your Visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Never explored this park before? Here are our top tips …
Reconsider if You Are Really Afraid of Heights
Since you have to cross the suspension bridge to get to the main trail system, raptor ridge, and multiple other attractions, this really isn’t a good fit if that will be too scary for you. The bridge is suspended 230 feet above a river and it is open air. Since it is a suspension bridge, this means it bounces and sways as you and others walk on it.
We saw a few people basically crawling over the bridge because they were so afraid and I felt so bad for them. Especially because it is easy to get stuck in the middle on a busy day as visitors stop to take photos.
Look for Special Events
We loved the Canyon Frights event and really appreciate that Capilano Suspension Bridge Park goes all out for these seasonal events. They also light up the park at night, which offers another unique option!
Here are the annual seasonal events they currently have listed:
- Last Two Weeks of October: Canyon Frights
- Mid-November through late January: Canyon Lights in the evenings
- February: Love Lights
Dedicate a Few Hours
We planned for about 2.5 hours at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and that worked out great. It was plenty of time to not rush through and enjoy every trail. However, we did not stop for food or drinks or do much shopping.
If you plan to do so, I’d suggest committing to about 3 hours here. If you have kids who will want to do the scavenger hunt, you could easily spend an additional hour or so!
Plan for People
Although the park definitely immerses you in nature, the popular and family-friendly aspects of it mean it won’t necessarily be the quiet stroll in the woods you may be imagining. If you want a better chance to have the trails and bridges to yourself, go on a weekday outside of summer during non-peak times (early morning or late afternoon).
We went on the first Sunday of the Canyon Frights event and it was pretty busy. Walking over the swaying and bouncing bridge while it was crowded with other tourists was definitely not my favorite. BUT it did make me really appreciate the solid engineering! Visiting when kids are in school would help a lot with avoiding the crowds.
Dress for Weather & Walking
This area can have all sorts of weather, especially in fall. Plan for cold, windy, and rainy weather. Wearing layers, good walking shoes that won’t slip easily, and a raincoat are key.
We walked for about two hours straight while exploring the entire park. It is about 1.8 km (a little over one mile) of trails total with many stairs and bridges. Plan accordingly and take breaks as needed. Getting familiar with the layout before starting out can definitely help!
Budget Accordingly & Book Ahead
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is not a cheap attraction to visit. It is CAD$66.95 per adult for entry. They do have student, senior, and child discounts; children 5 years and under are free. Parking is also $8 for three hours and can be paid using the kiosk in the lot or an app.
Are you a British Columbia resident? You can get an annual pass for the cost of one day’s admission!
The park does encourage guests to book ahead, especially during seasonal events and popular times to ensure entry. You will need to select what time you will be arriving when booking your ticket, so keep that in mind.
Other Things to Do in Vancouver
Before or after visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, there are a TON of things to do in Vancouver. You are especially spoilt for choice if you are a fellow nature lover!
- Stanley Park is just across the Lion’s Gate Bridge and provides hours of walking trails. It is also home to Prospect Point, if you just want a quick stop to take in the views.
- Beach hopping around Stanley Park and beyond is also a must if the weather is nice.
- VanDusen Botanical Garden is another top choice for enjoying Vancouver’s outdoors.
- Granville Island and its market is a top choice for foodies.
- Boat tours and taxis are a go-to way for getting around and exploring the islands around Vancouver. It is also a wonderful way to spot orcas, seals, and other wildlife.
For more tips on visiting British Columbia, read our other articles about this stunning area – including Vancouver Island!
Thank you to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for hosting us on this trip. As always, all opinions are our own.