26 July 2011

Review: Grouse Mountain

This is my Travel Advisor review, plus some pictures. More about the Vancouver trip soon... (I had grand plans to pre-blog while I was away, but I basically carted my computer to Canada for random email and blog reading. D'oh.)

Still not sure if it was worth the money to go to Grouse Mountain ($40 CAN per person), although I'm glad to say I've done it so probably was. It certainly was a hassle to get there and back to downtown.

We bought our tickets at Canada Place to ride the free shuttle to the base of the mountain. The girl manning the queue -- I believe her name was "Bran" -- was very chatty and told us to walk around but be back 10 minutes before the next bus arrived. When we did, she said "where are your numbers?" and "has your receipt been stamped?" She was the only one who would have done that, and we didn't know that needed to happen. So we didn't make that bus, shortening our time on the mountain by about an hour (time we spent waiting around Canada Place). When we made the next bus there were additional issues -- at the hotel stops "Bran" hadn't held enough seats open so people who had been waiting there weren't able to make the bus. If catching the shuttle at Canada Place, be very specific and ask questions about what it takes to get on the bus -- don't just get on line and assume that's enough. Get the plastic number! And I guess you can only hope for no screw ups if you're picking up the shuttle at a hotel.

"Bran" was at the base of the mountain when we got off the sky ride, so I'm not sure if she did so poorly she was moved to somewhere with less chance for screwing up. But you still need to get plastic numbers to get on the shuttle returning. The park/mountain stays open until 10, but the last bus runs at 5, and if there are more people than can fit, you're SOL. There is public transportation, but that tacks on an additional $5 for each person and additional uncertainty as far as finding the stops, making the transfer to the Seabus, etc. They did say the boat ride across the inlet is nice, so maybe worth it.

The pictures on all the brochures show a semi-full gondola ride up the mountain. Perhaps because it was such a beautiful day (and a Saturday), we did not experience that and on the way up had no view at all, other than the other people around us complaining about no view. We were really packed in like sardines. I think each tram can hold 100 people plus the "driver," probably just there to try to quell a riot and explain the swaying that happens when the tram goes over the towers.

On the mountain itself we had a good time. Ate some too expensive food, saw snow in July and had really great views (although very few unobstructed by people, structures, etc.). There are two grizzlies who live there, a lumberjack show (v. corny but fun), a birds show and my favorite -- the chair lift to the peak of the mountain. It was scary but provided better views. And if you're a skier it probably wouldn't be any big deal at all.

Feet on a chair lift (as opposed to on a beach)
It was crowded and loads of kids, but that surely had to do with the weather and the summer Saturday. We had to wait for about 20 minutes to catch the tram going down the mountain. Because of the timing of the shuttle bus (and worrying we wouldn't be able to get back without additional hassle) we didn't end up seeing the movies or doing the eco-walk with a ranger. You can also walk/run up the mountain, which might save some money. But I'm not entirely sure/that was never clear. Be prepared for some hiking and walking around -- wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen.

Other things we didn't do because they cost extra were the wind turbine and the zip line. The "Eye of the Wind" takes you up even higher on the peak for better views and costs something like $20 per person. The zip line costs something like $120 and we heard from others who did it that it was too expensive and went too fast (i.e. not long duration) for what it cost. They also offer helicopter rides and tandem para-sailing, but I'm not sure how much those cost -- guessing a lot, like everything else.

Definitely something to do while in Vancouver, but not something we'll be doing twice.

View from chair lift going down the mountain

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What? No photo of the hockey player statue???

And the cloudly gloom in your pictures doesn't make for the best experience up there.

Ideally it is good strategy to time your arrival so that your visit straddles 'sunset', so you get some daylight, twilight, and night time views.

I understand about your transportation concerns which kept you from doing so, but it makes sense as a suggestion for others.