When you live in a city for a long time, it’s easy to assume you’ve done it all and look to destinations further afield for adventure (we’re guilty of doing this ourselves).
But the reality is there’s a lot more happening in our backyards that we don’t often consider. Grouse Mountain, we recently discovered, is much more than somewhere to go snowboarding in the winter or take on the challenging yet rewarding Grouse Grind trail.
The mountain (aka, The Peak of Vancouver) literally has something to offer everyone in the summertime, from wildlife enthusiasts to outdoor adventure aficionados, from self-confessed foodies to those who appreciate a magical view of the sunset.
During a day packed with incredible mountain activities — almost all of which are included in the cost of an admission ticket — we had the opportunity to rediscover a famed local destination and the hidden gems worth adding to any bucket list.
Our day at Grouse began with an unforgettable ascent in the Skyride. Although the year-round tram ride takes just 10 to 15 minutes, it’s the most idyllic journey with picturesque views of Vancouver, the Pacific Ocean, and the tall Douglas fir trees surrounding the Grind below.
We gushed at the scenes visible from 2,800 ft elevation as we prepared to unload at the Peak Chalet and wondered why we hadn’t taken this ride during summer sooner. (Also, did you know it’s the largest aerial tramway system in North America?)
On the mountain and feeling a little thirsty in the summer heat, we made our way to the Peak Juice Bar. This quaint, recently-opened spot is nestled right outside the entrance of the Peak Chalet, making it the ideal post-Skyride stop.
Every juice you’ll find on the menu is made fresh at Grouse every day, with each containing at least two pounds of fresh fruits and veggies (not bad, huh?). After asking the barista for their recommendation, we each ordered the Peak Sunrise. A fusion of pineapple, apple, coconut water, ginger, carrot, and turmeric, it was exactly what we needed for a day in the sun.
We’ve lived in Canada our whole lives, but we never had the chance to see grizzly bears up close and personal (safely), so this activity really gave us the warm fuzzies.
The Wildlife Refuge at Grouse is home to two beautiful bears: Grinder and Coola — both orphaned as cubs in 2001. When we arrived at their 5.5-acre sanctuary, we marvelled at the rangers feeding them before they roamed around in the sun. But if they’re ever asleep when you visit, you can take in the action on the mountain webcams here.
FYI, Coola and Grinder are celebrating their 20th birthdays this month with special public celebrations at Grouse on July 24 and 25.
Grouse Mountain has a world-famous lumberjack show? This was our initial reaction before we caught the last one of the day at 5 pm. Not long after we took our seats, we saw two lumberjacks competing against each other whimsically and hilariously, almost reminiscent of a family-friendly ’90s sitcom. Since it runs for just 30 minutes, the show is a great way to kick back and relax with plenty of laughter-inducing moments, including log rolling, a towering 60-ft tree pole climb, axe throwing, and more.
Fun fact: the outdoor set features two logging camps that date back to the early 1900s.
Full disclosure: this was the first time we’ve ever played disc golf so we weren’t exactly sure what the rules were (sorry). The team at Grouse was quick to assure us that the sport is basically like golf, except instead of sending a ball into a hole, you’re putting a disc into a basket (also referred to as a hole).
We’ll admit that it took a couple of trial runs and determination for us to get the hang of the activity, but once we did, it was such a fun way to work out. Plus, the 18-hole course is located atop The Cut on the mountain, so it takes full advantage of the terrain.
After a day full of new and exciting activities, we were ready to eat. While on the mountain, we decided to visit the patio at Altitudes Bistro, located on the upper floor of the Peak Chalet, for dinner with a view of the Lower Mainland. This foodie haven is renowned for its British Columbian fare and dishes that are ideal for sharing (looking at you, Mountain Nachos), in addition to options like the drool-worthy Peak Burger with onion rings, aged white cheddar, and chipotle bacon jam. It was tough to hold back from ordering everything on the menu.
Altitudes Bistro also hosts a wood-fire BBQ Thursday to Sunday from 3 pm to close and offers cheap eats and drinks on its happy hour menu (Monday to Friday, from 3 to 5 pm and again after 8 pm).
After departing from what we now know is our favourite patio in Vancouver, we headed to the final destination: the Peak of Vancouver Lookout. To get there, we took the Peak Chair — a mesmerizing ride that soars to 4,100 ft above sea level. The ride took just under 15 minutes, and to say we were blown away by the view at the summit would be an understatement. From here, you can see a panorama of Vancouver that encompasses the downtown skyline and stretches all the way to Mount Baker’s silhouette.
Standing on the apex of Grouse and taking it all in was a real pinch-me moment. Naturally, we stayed to catch the sunset and found ourselves awe-inspired by the fading orange sun and bright cotton candy skies. We couldn’t have imagined a more perfect end to a perfect day.
If you’re ready to rediscover Grouse Mountain and try the aforementioned activities for yourself this summer, you can purchase a Mountain Admission Ticket ($51 per adult for locals or $131 for a family of four) or an Annual Locals Pass (starting at $219 per adult, with 30% savings for families). Please note, food and drinks are not included with the purchase of a pass or a ticket.
To learn more and start planning your visit, head to grousemountain.com.