Grouse Mountain view of Cleveland Dam

High on the list of must-do activities for visitors to Vancouver is a trip to the top of Grouse Mountain, the city’s popular mountaintop playground where summer hiking and great views are only an 8-minute gondola ride away. There are plenty of activities and adventures to do here, starting with how you get to the top, and once there you can try everything from mountain biking to zip lining to paragliding. Even for people who suffer from a fear of heights like Henk does, these 3 Grouse Mountain Vancouver adventures are worth doing for the views you’ll get and the bragging rights that come with them.

1. The Skyride Surf Adventure

Why just ride inside a gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain, when you can ride on TOP of the gondola in the open air instead? That was my thinking when I found out about a recent addition to the selection of Grouse Mountain Adventures available: the SkyRide Surf Adventure. This thrilling option allows a small group of people to climb onto the roof of the gondola and ride it to the top of the mountain.

SkyRide Surf Grouse Mountarin Vancouver Adventures

Jane climbing up to ride on the top of the gondola for the Skyride Surf Adventure

Six guests is the maximum number of riders on The SkyRide Surf Adventure and all you need to ride is a helmet (provided for you) and a good set of nerves. There are no safety lines, no seat belts, just a secure railing around the viewing platform so you can walk around while the gondola ascends 2800 feet to the top. There is a staff member along for the ride ‘just in case’, but the only thing you really need to worry about is keeping a good grip on your camera.

Henk on Skyride Surf Adventure Grouse Mountain Vancouver

Henk on the top of the gondola with a death grip on camera AND railing

Even though Henk is not a fan of heights, I knew he would be tempted to do this for the opportunity to take photographs without the nuisance of having to shoot through windows. Obviously I was right, because he showed little hesitation and we were lucky enough to be the only riders with the views all to ourselves. Even Henk walked around pretty comfortably capturing shots of the Capilano River, the Cleveland Dam and the snow-capped mountains around Vancouver.

view from top of Gondola Grouse Mountain Vancouver

Open-air views of Grouse Mountain and Capilano River

TIP: The SkyRide Surf adventure is only available in the mornings during the summer, and costs $25 over and above the admission to Grouse Mountain. It’s a good idea to reserve if you really want to ensure a spot, especially during peak season (pun intended!)

There’s More at the Top Than Meets the EYE…

Grouse Mountain Vancouver top of Gondola

The gondola drops you off near the chalet (on left) which has its own amazing views

The SkyRide Surf Adventure up Grouse Mountain is spectacular, and leaves you off near the Peak Chalet which has an exterior deck offering its own amazing views of Vancouver below. And of course visitors can walk around and explore other attractions here, like the Lumberjack Show, the Grizzly Habitat and more.

Grizzly in water at Grouse Mountain

Even in late May there was snow in the Grizzly habitat area on Grouse

Owl Presentation Grouse Mountain

Barn Owl presentation at the top of Grouse Mountain

But to really get the highest view from the top of mountain, you’ll want to visit The Eye of the Wind, a wind turbine perched on the top of Grouse and the only one in the world with an observation deck located at the top. Getting there meant pushing Henk’s fear of heights even further on the second leg of our journey to the top…

2. The Scenic Peak Chairlift: Pushing Henk to the Peak

Peak Chairlift Grouse Mountain Vancouver

The Peak Chairlift takes you to the Peak of Vancouver

To get to the Eye of the Wind meant Henk would have to suffer more vertigo-inducing heights as we hopped onto the scenic Peak Chairlift. The 14-minute ride climbs to the Peak of Vancouver (at 4100 feet above sea level), and offers its own views down the mountain as the chair sways above the treetops while it traverses steep drops in the terrain. (Strangely, the chairlift made Henk more nervous than the gondola ride, especially when we dangled over some of the steepest gullies.)

dangling feet Peak Chairlift Grouse Mountain

Looking down from the chairlift was a little freaky

3. The One-of-a-Kind Eye of the Wind

Eye of the Wind Grouse Mountain Vancouver

The Eye of the Wind’s observation pod is unique in the world.

Once disembarking from the Peak Chairlift, it was a short walk past a few still-impressive snowbanks to get to our next Grouse Mountain adventure: ascending the Eye of the Wind.

Jane and snowbank Grouse Mountain

Late May and these were the snowbanks!

At 200 feet tall, the Eye of the Wind may not be the largest wind turbine in the world, but it is the only one where you can take an elevator up its narrow shaft and step out onto a 360-degree glass observation viewPOD, suspended 3 metres below the turbine’s blades.

Eye of the Wind Closeup Grouse Mountain Vancouver

This observation pod actually moves as the blades rotate in front of it

Unfortunately, what followed Henk and I up to the top of the mountain was a bank of thick cloud and when we stepped out onto the platform all we saw was white mist.

Jane in the Eye of the Wind

Nothing but cloud surrounding the Eye of the Wind

It did however, make for a very surreal sensation when occasionally, a bit of wind would cause the blades to rotate slowly past the windows of our glass bubble, adding to the feeling that we were suspended in the clouds.

Eye of the Wind Blade seeing from observation pod

Blades would slowly move right in front of our pod

Patience and perseverance paid off, however, and after about 45 minutes the clouds finally cleared enough to reward us with a view of the surrounding peaks and Vancouver harbour sparkling below.

Inside Eye of the Wind Observation Pod

The clouds cleared to reveal the view.

View from Eye of the Wind to Vancouver

View all the way to Vancouver from the Eye of the Wind

Looking out onto green valleys and the Pacific beyond, it was easy to see why so may people fall in love with this part of Canada. But standing at the top of Grouse mountain on the top of a wind turbine and enjoying that view? That was a whole different level.

TIP: The Eye of the Wind costs $15 in addition to the admission ticket but is worth it for the views and to be able to go to the top of a wind turbine!

Passion Trumps Fear Every Time

I wouldn’t say that I have a passion for adventure (travel yes, but adrenaline-packed adventure, no). But when there is something that I think is just too cool to miss, I go all in. Apparently, Henk feels the same way about his passion for photography, too, because his own fear of heights didn’t hold him back when it came to getting the kind of photos you can only get when you take some of Grouse Mountain’s adventures ‘up” a notch.

Grouse Mountain Peak Chairlift view

View from the Peak chairlift

Getting to Grouse Mountain: There are free shuttles that take visitors directly to Grouse Mountain from Canada Square near Vancouver’s cruise terminal. Adult admission to Grouse Mountain costs $56 which includes a return gondola trip and plenty of other included activities. For a full list of Grouse Mountain attractions and activities, check their website.

Pinterest_GrouseMountain Adventures

Special thanks to Vancouver Tourism who provided Henk and I with complimentary adult admission tickets to Grouse Mountain.

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