When you’re in the District Municipality of North Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is one place you want to visit. This is one of the North Shore Mountains of British Columbia.
Grouse Mountain’s peak elevation is at 1,200 meters (or 4,100 ft), with the ski resort overlooking Metro Vancouver. It has four elevated passenger ropeways that lead to some 33 runs.
Brief History of Grouse Mountain Resort
This famous landmark is filled with a certain game bird species (the sooty blue grouse), which is where it got its name. A group of hikers reached its peak in October 1894 and decided that’s the best-suited title.
By the end of the ’20s, Scandinavians had already taken the first step to what we now call the Grouse Grind. They debuted with a hand-built lodge – pulling pieces of timber up the hiking trail.
Less than a decade later, they built a toll road through the “Cut” (i.e., the main ski run of Grouse Mountain and the whole of Canada). This houses the mountain’s first lodge and rope tow.
Locals dub the Cut’s base “the Village” because of the trees surrounding the area. While most of these cabins are non-existent, you’ll still find some in the resort today.
For instance, the Old Grouse Mountain Highway is still a functional gravel road that leads to the base, though only utilized for maintaining the area.
The management built the elevation’s first double chairlift in 1949, making it the third to be built in the country. The lift lets you ski from the ridgetop to the Cut’s base.
Longer and better lifts have been constructed since then, with the Village Chair opening in ’51. This chairlift features two seats, wooden towers, and a metal roof – all to give skiers a smooth experience.
In 1962, a fire dismantled the lodge, which led to the removal of the first two chairlifts.
Seeing this, the BC government funded a replacement to further boost the tourism industry. The Blue Tram was also added, which opened in 1966.
This aerial tramway travels from the valley to the mountaintop, courtesy of Austria-based firm Voestalpine. These days, its sole purpose is to move supplies to the lodge structure.
In 1976, the McLaughlin family bought the area and immediately added another aerial tramway – the Super Skyride or Red Tram.
This one can hold close to 100 passengers and ends at the top terminal building.
Since the family acquired the mountain, the ski area has received major makeovers. This separates it from the initial atmosphere, with three new chairlifts being built throughout the ’60s and ’70s.
Full ownership came in 1989 and a year later, the McLaughlin’s constructed the Theatre in the Sky – the country’s very first HD theatre.
Three chairlifts–the Peak, Inferno, and Blueberry Chairs–were removed in the early 2000s.
Their replacement came through in 2005 as a high-speed quad lift with detachable chairs. This was for the 2010 Winter Games, dubbed the Olympic Express.
Eventually, the plan didn’t push through. The Olympic games weren’t held here but NBC Today recorded the event live from the mountain.
2008 saw the management building two more quad lifts. Their speed is slower and more beginner-friendly than the Olympic Express.
What Features Does Grouse Mountain Resort Offer?
Grouse Mountain Resort has a wildlife area called the Wildlife Refuge, where you can see animals like the Grizzly bear, owls, and hummingbirds. During the summer season, you can have talks with experts on these animals.
Activities and exhibitions
There are exhibitions and activities for everyone, including tree canopy adventures (for kids), chairlift rides, shows with lumberjacks, helicopter tours, and a Birds of Prey exhibition.
The mountain has a 100-seater mountaintop theatre, as well as two aerial tramways known as Skyride. Theater in the Sky is available for those keen to have an awe-inspiring lookout.
The Grouse Mountain Skyride is a popular attraction that offers views of the North Shore and the entire area of Vancouver. It operates year-round.
The resort also features zip-lining, a disc golf course, and mountain biking. You can also indulge in guided eco-walks or pair paragliding.
The Grouse Grind hike, with a total of 2,830 stairs, can be both difficult and steep – but the effort is worth it! It’s open for summer hiking from May to October.
This 2.9km long trail is on steep and rugged terrain as it runs from the North Vancouver plateau to the Grouse Mountain peak. The trail gains 853 metres (2,800 feet) in elevation.
You can see why natives enjoy the Grind as it’s a great place to improve their fitness. The hike averagely takes an hour and a half, so it’s good for all sorts of hikers. Those with less experience should allow up to two hours.
The arrival of snow means you have plenty of winter activities to choose from. You can ski, snowboard, snowshoe, and skate on the ice.
There is a total of 33 skiing/snowboarding runs, 4 chairlifts, 15 night runs, and 6 terrain parks available for snowboarding.
Snowshoes are available to all guests at the resort, giving them access to 9km of snowshoe trails. Guests can also enjoy an ice skating rink – this is the only mountaintop, outdoor pond for skaters in the lower mainland of Vancouver.
There are two lanes for sledding. You can reach speeds as high as 80km/hr by ziplining across the mountain.
Dining and shopping
Grouse Mountain Resort is a great alpine attraction with lots of dining and shopping spots.
You can shop for souvenirs, cultural items, athletic wear, etc., at Essentials, the Spirit Gallery, Outfitters, and more. Visitors with the Annual Locals or Y2Play pass receive 20% off all retail products, excluding some selected brands.
Dining options include Grouse Grind’s Coffee Bar, Starbucks, Beavertails, the Observatory, Peak Juice Bar, Altitudes Bistro, Lupins Café, and Rusty Rail BBQ.
Lessons and rentals
Whether a kid, teen, or adult, you can learn new skiing and snowboarding skills at the Resort’s camps. These lessons are classified by age: 3-6, 7-12, 13-18, and 19+. You can also opt for private or single-day lessons.
Improve your skiing technique in the Adult Clinics with 4 days of focused instruction on different types of skiing.
If you’re interested in being an instructor, the Ski Instructor Certification would be a great next step. To learn more about avalanche safety, you can also take Avalanche Skills Training at Grouse Mountain.
As for rentals, let the ski/snowboard team outfit you with gear. They’ll work with you to determine what’s appropriate for how much experience you have.
How Do You Access The Mountain?
Tickets, passes, and memberships are available for sale, all depending on your needs and the time of visit. The plans are as follows:
- Mountain Admission Ticket: Excluding skiing and snowboarding, you gain access to most attractions for a flexible price. The cost depends on when you plan to visit – follow here for more info.
- Skyride Download Ticket: For $20, hikers who reach the top of the mountain can enjoy a one-way, downhill ride on the Skyride.
- Full-Service Parking Permit: $40 to park for a whole year – this is always free if you’re driving a Volvo.
- Annual Locals Pass: $219 for visitors aged 17-64, $189 for those 65 or above, $109 for minors aged 5-16, and $10 for kids below 5. A family pass for local visitors (an adult with a child or infant, or 2 adults) activates a 50% discount. Check here for more info on the benefits.
- Corporate Annual Pass: Get 15% off with this year-round pass for 15 or more employees.
- 3-Day Plus Pass: Get 20% off for 3-day access instead of just a day.
- Day Lift Tickets: For a ride up and down the Skyride, you pay $75 (ages 19-64), $55 (ages 13-18 or 65+), or $29 (ages 5-12). The prices change to $79, $59, or $31 during the weekends or holidays.
- Night Lift Tickets: The same principles apply here but the prices change to $55/59, $47/49, or $27/29.
- Winter Season Pass: For the 2021/22 winter season, you can enjoy all-season access for $869 (ages 19-64), $729 (students 19 or above), $679 (ages 13-18 or 65+), $419 (ages 5-12), or $49 (4 years or younger). The family pass triggers 10% off.
Points to Note
Starting in the 2021/22 winter season, Grouse Mountain will only accept guests who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.