Named after the Blue Grouse birds hunted by hikers over a hundred years ago, Grouse Mountain is Vancouver‘s most popular attraction, with over a million visitors annually. It also hosts North America’s largest aerial tram system, the SkyRide (opened 1966), which takes you up to a summit altitude of just under 4,000 feet, giving you a panoramic view of the city, ocean, islands, and surrounding mountains.
The summit is also home to a five-acre conservation and research center called the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, where you’ll find a couple of orphaned Grizzly Bears, Grinder and Coola. A smaller Timber Wolf habitat – for retired wolf movie stars, no less – is at the base. Visitors are welcome to listen to an educational chat by a wildlife expert to learn about these animals and why it’s important to protect them.
Every hour, you can catch “Born to Fly” and “Animal Tracks: Baby Grizzlies,” short films shown at the Theatre in the Sky. The first film gives the viewers a glimpse of what it’s like to see from an eagle’s perspective, and the latter tells the story of how Grinder and Coola found their way to Grouse Mountain.
Only 15 minutes away from downtown Vancouver, the mountain has a large handful of activities for all seasons: in summer, try a half-hour tandem paragliding flight, ride an 80 km/hr zipline across to Dam Mountain, catch a lumberjack show, or ride in the Air Grouse Mountain Helijet for a helicopter tour. In winter, attack the terrain park on your skis or snowboard, or stay late for some night-skiing until 10pm. Get off the beaten tracks with your snowshoes, or take the kids to Grouse Mountain’s 8,000 square-foot outdoor ice-skating pond. You can even go for a real sleigh ride through the snow!
The world’s first double chairlift was built on Grouse Mountain in 1949. NBC broadcasted the 2010 Winter Olympics from the summit. Read more of the mountain’s history here.
The SkyRide departs every fifteen minutes daily from 9am to 10pm (it takes about eight minutes to get to the top). Tickets to the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife are included with General Admission to the mountain.