The Top Things to Do and See on Grouse Mountain, Vancouver

Enjoy the view of Coal Harbour by cable car from the top of Grouse Mountain
Enjoy the view of Coal Harbour by cable car from the top of Grouse Mountain | © Ross Barker / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer31 August 2020

Grouse Mountain, in North Vancouver, has plenty of activities to enjoy all year round. Tackle the famous Grouse Grind, take up snowshoeing, or catch an unforgettable lumberjack show. Keep reading to discover the top things to see and do.

Enjoy the Peak of Christmas

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At Christmastime, Grouse Mountain transforms into Vancouver’s North Pole. Activities at the Peak of Christmas include the magical Light Walk at Blue Grouse Lake, ice skating on the pond, and visiting the Gingerbread Village. Kids can have their photo taken with Santa, or enjoy breakfast in his cosy log cabin. If you want to write out your gift list, head to the Elf Headquarters where you’ll find a range of fun craft activities.

Take to the Sky

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To get to the top of Grouse Mountain, hop on the Skyride — North America’s largest aerial tramway system — or hike up the Grouse Grind. Adrenaline junkies can try paragliding, tackle the Mountain Ropes Adventure, or feel the wind on their face as they “surf” the roof of the Skyride, with sensational views of coastal mountains and the lower mainland. During summer, chairlifts take you higher up the mountain for panoramic views of Vancouver.

Tackle the Grouse Grind

Hiking Trail
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Grouse Grind snakes up the mountain for 1.8mi (2.9km), earning it the nickname Mother Nature’s Stairmaster. Every year, more than 100,000 people tackle this challenging hike, which takes roughly 90 minutes to complete. If you have the stamina to climb the 2,830 stairs, the Grind is open from May to October, but it’s compulsory to take the Skyride back down. Trail hours are subject to change, so check the website before visiting.

Mountaintop Dining

Restaurant, Canadian, $$$
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There are several dining options on top of Grouse Mountain. The Observatory five-star restaurant comes complete with prix fixe tasting menu and amazing views of Vancouver, while Altitudes Bistro serves local dishes, including Grouse Mountain nachos. Rusty Rail Patio and the impressive Altitudes Sky Deck are pleasant alternatives. For hot drinks and snacks, there’s the Grouse Grind Coffee Bar, Starbucks, and the Grizzly Lookout Cafe. If you want an authentic Canadian experience, indulge in a BeaverTail pastry, served piping hot with your choice of toppings.

Get Close to Wildlife

Bistro, Canadian, $$$
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For a truly memorable experience, visit Grouse Mountain’s resident grizzly bears. Grinder and Coola, in their Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. In summertime, enjoy Breakfast with the Bears, which includes a private ranger talk, a bite to eat in Altitudes Bistro, and the opportunity to watch the bears having their own meal. Other options include learning about bald eagles and peregrine falcons at a Birds in Motion demonstration, or visit Pollinator’s Garden — a specially crafted home for bees and butterflies.

The Eye of the Wind

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Eye of the Wind, Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
© Theo Moye / Alamy Stock Photo

Towering 190ft (57m) above Grouse Mountain peak, the Eye of the Wind is the first wind turbine in North America to be built at high altitude. It’s also the world’s first (and only) wind turbine with a glass viewing platform 10ft (3m) from its large rotating blades. Take in the 360-degree views of Vancouver from inside the viewpod, while learning about the wonders of renewable energy.

Shop for Souvenirs

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Don’t leave Grouse Mountain without picking up some souvenirs of your trip. Popular stores include Spirit Gallery, home to unique gifts by local artisans, crafted from British Columbia jade, and Essentials, with its Grouse Mountain branded socks, jackets, and keychains. You can pick up any last-minute essentials at Outfitters, which carries a wide range of outdoor activewear. Opening hours vary, so check the website before visiting.

The Lumberjack Show

The Lumberjack Show is a daily performance during the summer on Grouse Mountain — and a highlight among visitors. The website description captures it best: “An impressive outdoor set features two logging camps from the early 1900s, where Johnny Nelson from the Green River logging camp prepares to battle Willie McGee from Blue Mountain to determine the top lumberjack.” The 45-minute show includes log rolling, tree climbing, axe throwing, and two-man peg and raker-saw demonstrations. If you’re feeling brave, you can even pick up an axe yourself.

Theatre in the Sky

Get comfortable at Grouse Mountain’s Theatre in the Sky, and learn about the local wildlife. The high-definition cinema features the Discovery Channel documentary Extremely Wild about the mountain’s adorable resident grizzlies, Coola and Grinder. Other films include The Wild Within, about British Columbia’s untamed natural surroundings, and Exposed, the fascinating story of the protected Great Bear Rainforest. The theatre is open all year and films are rotated regularly.

Hit the Slopes

All of North Vancouver’s mountains are great for skiing and snowboarding in winter, but Grouse has the definitive snowmaking system. You’ll find 33 ski and snowboard runs waiting for your pleasure, including The Cut — a terrain park for expert riders and skiers to hone their tricks. For a magical experience, try night skiing or snowshoeing on the dedicated trails. If you need a bit of coaching, lessons and rental services are available.

Play Disc Golf

An increasingly popular summertime activity around the world, take your disc golf game to new heights (literally) on Grouse Mountain. With rules similar to golf, disc golf involves throwing Frisbee-like discs at targets. There’s an 18-hole course on the mountaintop that makes good use of the rugged terrain. Purchase discs at the top, and pick up a scorecard from the Outpost. Access to the course is free with your mountain admission ticket.

Mountain Ropes Adventure

Adventurous visitors can take on the Mountain Ropes Adventure — a series of four aerial ropes courses, in which you swing, jump, and balance your way to the finish. If you’re eight or over, and wearing closed-toe shoes, get ready to swing like Tarzan. For younger children, the Kids Tree Canopy Adventure is a play area full of treehouses, slides, and games. Children aged 3-8 can enjoy it for free.

Additional reporting by Emma Gibbins

These recommendations were updated on August 31, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.