Grouse Mountain, Vancouver BC
In addition to its picture perfect setting Vancouver has a stunning surprise for the visitor on its backdoor step, Grouse Mountain. In winter Grouse Mountain serves as a stunning winter playground and ski field within 20 minutes of the centre of the city, but in summer it is a great place to spend a day with a host of activities and stunning views down over downtown Vancouver and its harbour.
It is reached by the SkyRide Gondola a 12 minute ride taking you to the upper station at an elevation of 3,700 feet. To reach the lower station from Vancouver either:
Take the North Vancouver exit (right) to Marine Drive. Turn north (left) at the first intersection, Capilano Road. Stay on Capilano Road for 5km (3.1 miles) until the road ends at the Grouse Mountain parking lot. Disabled parking bays are provided in the front row of the parking area directly opposite the two ramps leading to Gondola loading station. The left hand ramp offers the shorter distance to the ticket office.
By public transportation, take the SeaBus to the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Take bus #236 to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. An alternative is to take bus #246 on West Georgia St across the Lions Gate Bridge to Edgemont Village. From there, transfer to bus #232 that will take you to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. The SeaBus is accessible with rollon rolloff access and offers superb views of the city on the trip across the harbour. The return trip is well worth doing on its own. Officially it is stated in some guides that 24 hours notice is required for a wheelchair passenger, however passage is on a first come first serve basis and unless there is a large group there doesn't seem to be an issue with just showing up (and nor should there be) Access to the and from the Gondola is easy and level and access to the amenities building adjacent to the top station is via gently sloping ramps.
Once on the top there is plenty to do and all of the attractions are included in the price of your SkyRide ticket, excluding the franchised operations such as the paragliding. The wood carvings are amazing, as is the Birds in Motion display. For a bit of fun the Lumberjack Show provides an action packed and humorous 45 minutes of entertainment.
The must see while you are on the mountain are the two orphaned Grizzly Bears, Grinda and Coola now living in the sanctuary at the top of the mountain. The best viewing area from a wheelchair is from the bridge over the river at the Grizzly Bear enclosure. Their respective stories are reprinted below.
Back at the main building the theatre in the sky offers two presentations. At the top of every hour is Born to Fly which takes visitors on a dramatic aerial adventure through an eagle’s perspective, exploring four-seasons of scenery, recreation, travel and the natural wonders of Canada’s pacific province, British Columbia. This presentation in particular will leave you breathless. At the bottom of the hour, watch Discovery Channel’s Animal Tracks: Baby Grizzlies. The feature tells the story of Grinder and Coola and follows their journey to the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. Smooth and well graded paths lead between all of these attractions, and ample room to view the Lumberjack Show and Birds in motion.
If you are in Vancouver and you strike a clear day a trip up Grouse Mountain is well worth the effort. Allow yourself plenty of time as time does get away if the weather is good. While nearly all of the activities are accessible the final chairlift to the top of the mountain is not nor is the ziplining. The BBQ cafe located near the Birds in Motion display does not have a ramped access to the BBQ deck.
The Story of Grinder and Coola - Courtesy Grouse Mountain
Grinder was found orphaned June 5, 2001 in Invermere, British Columbia. He was wandering alone on a logging road, dehydrated, thin, weak and weighing only 4.5 kg. His mother was never found so how he came to be alone is unknown.
Grinder is a very outgoing, high-spirited bear. He is usually the first to investigate anything new and explore the unknown. He has established himself as the dominant bear, despite his smaller size, and he often shows much more 'attitude' than Coola. He is usually the one to initiate the bouts of wrestling and play fighting.
Careful observation has revealed that Grinder predominantly favours the use of his right paw for grasping and manipulating objects. This would make him right-handed (or is it right-pawed?). Although he does enjoy swimming in the pond, he does this much less frequently than Coola. One of his favourite pastimes is people-watching and he can usually be seen scrutinizing our visitors.
Coola was found orphaned at the side of the highway on June 29, 2001 near Bella Coola, British Columbia. His mother had been hit and killed by a truck. Of her three cubs, Coola was the only one to survive. One cub was hit by a falling tree and the other ran away and was not seen again.
Coola is a very easy-going bear with a cautious and careful disposition. He is quite introverted and seems content to let Grinder take the lead in new discoveries.
He shows a definite preference for swimming and aquatic games and can most often be found submerged up to his neck in the large pond. He likes to keep his 'bath toys' on the bottom of the pond and can be seen carefully feeling around underwater for them. These usually consist of a large bone, a favourite rock and a log. He brings these up for playing and will hold, throw and balance them on the top of his head for entertainment. None of these toys are ever found away from the pond. We believe he may be keeping them underwater to hide them from Grinder.
He favours the use of his left paw for holding and manipulating objects. This indicates that he is most likely left-handed (pawed). His bed-making abilities are outstanding and the previous two year's hibernation beds were assembled entirely by Coola. He dragged in large branches and rearranged them until the den was lined with a comfy 2ft deep mattress.
His voice is a very deep baritone but he seldom vocalizes it. He can only be heard during the occasional argument with Grinder.