Grouse Mountain is Vancouver’s hub for activities, adventure and that warm, fuzzy feeling you won’t find anywhere else!
Yet another great feature of living in Vancouver is that Jack Frost tends to leave us relatively unscathed yet all the best parts of winter are so readily available. Snow is magical, beautiful and incredibly fun in the right venue but it’s a pain in the ass when you’re trying to get home from work. Thanks to places like Grouse Mountain we can enjoy winter on our terms. What sets Grouse apart from the rest is the full gamut of activities and experiences they offer all year round.
Everyone knows that Grouse offers skiing and snowboarding less than 30 minutes away from downtown Vancouver so what I’m going to do is fill you in on everything else you can do up there.
First off is the Grouse Mountain Skyride which is a gondola ride up or down the mountain involving a jaw-dropping view of the city, the coast and the surrounding wilderness. This saves you having to drive up the mountain so you don’t need snow tires or chains.
Once you get to the top you can check out the Theatre in The Sky where there are a couple of cinematic options for nature and animal lovers. The mainstay Born to Fly is a documentary about the natural beauty of BC shot from the perspective of an eagle. The other option, Animal Tracks, is a documentary series focusing on endagered species. The Refuge for Endagered Wildlife is even better because you can see a couple of real live grizzlies and grey wolves rescused by this animal sanctuary. You can also take the tour up to the top of Grouse’s wind turbine, Eye of the Wind. This was built in an effort to become more self-sustained and environmentally friendly. The 20-story elevator takes you up to a 360 viewpoint where you can see as far as Mt. Baker and Vancouver Island from the same spot.
If you’re not into the nordic scene there are plenty of less thrilling but equally fun outdoor activities all included with your Skyride admission. First off, Grouse has Vancouver’s only outdoor skating pond. One of my fondest childhood memories is skating outdoors on a frozen pond and I think it’s something every Canadian child should experience growing up. Next up you can go snowshoeing which is actually a lot more fun that it sounds. Snowshoes allow you to prance atop the snow getting a great workout while you find places you’d normally never be able to access on foot. When everyone gets tuckered out you can meetup behind Santa’s Workshop for a sleigh ride and then hit the chalet for a hot drink.
The best time to hit up Grouse is right now. Up until Christmas Grouse will be hosting The Peak of Christmas where they turn everything into a festive, winter-wonderland. They go all out with lights, decorations and live entertainment from local choirs. Don’t just take your kids to see Santa in a mall when you can take them to see Santa in his workshop complete with live reindeer! Check the Grouse Mountain website for a number of other activities and workshops going on throughout the holiday season.
For those of you like myself who correlate fun with speed and height Grouse has three terrain parks for skiers and riders. The Paradise Jib Park was designed for keeners who couldn’t wait for the Quiksilver Terrain Park to get built up. This is one of the best terrain parks around packed with almost a kilometer of jumps and rails to perfect your lines and combos. If you’re still learning you can hit up the Rookie Terrain Park where things are not so daunting. Ziplining is another good way to kill a couple of hours and get in some thrills. Harness yourself to a cable and literally zip through the air a couple hundred feet off the ground at up to 80km/hr. Good times!
Sadly winter only lasts a few short months but the fun doesn’t stop at Grouse. Anything not dependent on snow stays open all year long and when the weather clears up you can take a more ambitious route up the mountain - walking up thousands of stairs! If you haven’t heard of The Grouse Grind I am shocked and excited to be the one to tell you about it. It’s a world-famous Vancouver hike that’s been around for over 100 years. I should warn you though that this is not for the feint of heart as you gain 853 metres in elevation in just under 3 km’s. Go up at a leisurely pace or do a timed trial to compare with other fitness junkies. My goal for next spring is to do the Grind in 35 minutes and then reward myself with yet another activity readily available at Grouse – tandem paragliding.
To me there’s nothing more exciting than hitting the slopes. I’m headed up for my first run of the year tomorrow and I am aquiver with delight. Combine the crisp mountain air and scenic views with the almost weightless sensation of gliding down the mountain and you truly do have something magical. Throw in some sick jumps and a few well maneuvered landings and I’m in cloud nine. Don’t forget to ask the powers that be to provide a little fresh powder for some freestyling after lunch. People spend their whole lives trying to achieve Nirvana but this is it. Pure, unadulterated bliss. There is no where else on earth I would rather be. It’s more than a sport or a past-time. It’s a love affair and a lifestyle!
There really is something for everyone to do at Grouse Mountain and it makes this city that much more appealing to someone like me. Their slogan is One Destination, Endless Experiences and I couldn’t agree more.