Across the Lion’s Gate Bridge, crossing the Burrard Inlet from Stanley Park, is the scenic community of West Vancouver. It stretches between the rugged shores of Burrard Inlet up to the higher levels of the surrounding coast-hugging mountains, notably the 1,324 metre-high Hollyburn Mountain, and stretches west to the BC Ferries docks at Horseshoe Bay on Howe Sound.
Get to the Ferries with the Upper Levels Highway (the #1 Trans-Canada) to catch ferries to Vancouver Island (including Victoria) and the “Sunshine Coast.” The Upper Level Highway is also the fastest way to the Cypress Bowl Recreation Area.
Marine Drive takes you through the small villages of Ambleside, Hollyburn and Dundarave. West Vancouver has miles of seawalks that connect the beaches and short picturesque commercial stretches long the coast. Take lots of photos along Caulfield Cove, Lighthouse Park and Fisherman’s Cove. Budget travelers can catch the West Vancouver Blue Bus from downtown (985-7777).
West Vancouver not only has the highest per capita income in Canada, but with 61 parks covering almost 2,500 hectares (6,170 acres), it has one of the highest ratios of greenery per person. The bigger parks include Lighthouse Park, Cypress Provincial Park (with a ski hill) and Ambleside Park (with shoreside seawalk, pitch & putt golf, and tennis courts).
Annual festivals, events
Community Day (1st Saturday in June), Sail out Horseshoe Bay (Father’s Day, June), Coho Festival (weekend after Labour Day),
1150 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC V7T 1B1
(13th and Marine Drive)
This 24 hectare (61 acre) shore-side park has a view of Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver. The Seawalk provides a leisurely vista of passing sailboats, freighters and tugboats. There are duck ponds, a beach, playing fields, pitch & putt golf, tennis courts, and a pavilion and concessions at the park.
Drive up the mountain for sweeping views of Vancouver and the Islands. There’s a great network of trails for hiking, including some trails which turn into ski runs for both downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter.
6000 Cypress Bowl Rd, West Vancouver, BC V0N 1G0
Cypress Mountain is a popular destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities. In the summer, it offers hiking trails and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Beacon Ln, West Vancouver, BC V7W 1K5
(Beacon Lane & Marine Drive)
(604) 922-1211 Website
Lighthouse Park is a rugged 75 hectare park at the southwest “corner” of West Vancouver. More
than 60 bird species reside in one of the few remaining original forests in Greater Vancouver. The lighthouse on Point Atkinson has been in non-stop operation since 1875, though may soon become unmanned. The shoreline walk to the lighthouse is very pretty. This park is a great spot to enjoy the sunset, and the cliffs are popular with rock climbers.
6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9
Known as the “Peak of Vancouver,” Grouse Mountain offers a range of activities including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and wildlife encounters. It provides breathtaking views of the city and surrounding mountains.
The 240 hectare Crippen Regional Park is just a short ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, across Howe Sound. The park used to be an island resort in the early 1920s, developed by the Union Steamship Company, but faded by the mid 1940s. The Regional Park was established in 1983. The park has couple of well known features, including Snug Cove, surrounded by steep green hillsides, Killarney Lake, and Bridal Veil Falls with its adjacent salmon fish ladder.
This park is located at the northwest tip of the North Shore, a mile west of the BC Ferries docks at Horseshoe Bay. The park is generally though to be named for the white cliffs that border Howe Sound, but is really named for land developer Colonel Whyte in 1914. The park offers spectacular views up the Howe Sound fjord, which extends 42 kilometres northward up to Squamish, plus tennis courts, a beach, and BC’s only underwater reserve (accessible to scuba divers).
This 75 hectare park includes large stands of virgin rainforest, many 60 metres (200 feet) tall and 8 metres (25 feet) in diameter. Paths, covered with red cedar chips, criss-cross the park. The lighthouse at Point Atkinson guides ships into Vancouver harbour, and sits beside the Nature House interpretive centre. The Park was set up in 1881as a lighthouse reserve, and the lighthouse beacon was built in 1914.
Cypress Provincial Park
(Cypress Bowl Road, above teh Trans-Canada) website
This 3000 hectare park is bordered by Howe Sound, Mount Strachan, Hollyburn Mountain and West Vancouver. The road to this park winds up the mountain, with several spectacular photo opportunities to view Vancouver, and even Mount Baker, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island. Day-use picnic grounds are scattered throughout the park and wilderness camping is permitted. Cypress Ski Resort boasts the greatest vertical drop of the three North Shore resorts, and there are 27 kilometres of cross-country ski trails in winter, which are used for hiking in summer.
The park features a screscent beach and Dundarave Peir. Th epier has a restaurant with a view of the harbour. Dunadarave is a busy spot, beside the park is a two-block commercial strip, with a famous mural by Jim Mackenzie on the corner of 25th and Marine Drive, depicting early Vancouver in 1792 before the arrival of explorers. The park is the start of the seawall boardwalk that extends to Ambleside Beach, a length of about 15 blocks.
This 126 hectare grassy waterfront park lies beside the Park Royal shopping centre. The eastern end of the Park sits on Squamish Indian land, the Capilano Indian Reserve. There is a bird sanctuary in the Park, which in addition to view of wild life, offers spectacular views of Vancouver and Stanley Park. This park is the focal point of Wet Vancouver’s fitness crowd, with its six playing fields, the swimming pool, a running track with fitness stations, and a pitch & putt course.
Capilano River Regional Park
5077 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K4
(Capilano Park Road)
(604) 224-5739 website
This 160 hectare park, alongside the Capilano River straddles both North Vancouver a& West Vancouver. This is the most popular of the Regional Parks in the Vancouver area, because of its spectacular canyon trails, the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, and several viewpoints. There is a 7 kilometre walking trail from Cleveland Dam at the ‘top’ of park (holding back Lake Capilano) to mouth of the Capilano River at the First Narrows. The River is navagable by kayaks, and the park has plenty of picnic facilities and a Federal Government fish hatchery.