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We’re Going on A Bear Hunt

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver

Grouse Mountain is known for many things – alpine skiing, a great view over the downtown Vancouver, the strenuous Grouse grind – a hike or 2.9-kilometre trail up the face of Grouse Mountain – but there was only one reason I wanted to go there.

Bears,” I said being overly dramatic to my friends as I mock-crept along the walkway pretending to be on a bear hunt.

A carved wooden bear atop Vancouver's Grouse Mountain

At the base of the mountain one of our Vancouver guides told us about the wildlife on the mountain – peregrine falcons, golden eagles, owls, grey wolves, hummingbirds and grizzly bears… yes – grizzly bears.

Travelling to Canada I knew that I wanted to see the wildlife – moose, owls, birds of prey, wolves, beavers, bison, and of course, bears. Grizzly bears, brown bears – I wanted to see them all, but not get too close of course!
I was expecting to see them in the wild when travelling through Alberta but having the chance to see them up close and so close to a big city like Vancouver was a stroke of luck.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver

Leaning intently against the wooden barriers I thought that they must be hiding or asleep somewhere because I couldn’t see them on their mini mountain, but Sophie pointed them out to me with a screech of, “there!” and much finger waggling.

Grouse Mountain is the home of an endangered wildlife refuge; this includes Grinder and Coola – the two grizzly bears who call the mountain their home.
Both were orphaned at a young age after their parents were killed and the team at the refuge have adopted them, given them a home and helped them to lead a relatively normal life – perhaps with a few more people than usual watching them as they play in the pools or hibernate for the winters.

Grizzly bear behind a metal fence at Grouse Mountain, Vancouver

I had mixed feelings about Grinder and Coola. On one hand I was amazed at how close we could get to them, that we could see them feed and interact with each other but on the other I felt a remarkable sadness that they are in a small enclosure rather than roaming free, even though I know they wouldn’t have survived without the help of the caretakers.

I have no doubt that they are being looked after superbly by the team at the refuge but their enclosure is still small for animals who are designed to be able to roam free through a forest. When I first stood before the enclosure we saw nothing and assumed they’d trotted away to enjoy a meal but then one of them poked their head out from behind a small tree almost looking to see if the crowds had disappeared so he could come and relax in privacy. Whilst one bear quite happily ambled down the small hill in the centre of their enclosure the other – I think Coola – appeared shy or anxious and kept peering out from behind the tree; but without the refuge adopting Grinder and Coola and their efforts to help them, and many of the other animals that call Grouse home, they would most likely would have died in the wild.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver

Grizzly bear atop a hill at Grouse Mountain, Vancouver

I could have watched Coola and Grinder play and interact all day but other animals enclosures and lunch awaited me.

Wandering through the rest of the mountain I discovered that the grey timber wolves found around the lower part of the mountain are retirees from the movie industry, their is a hummingbird monitoring network atop the mountain and that Grouse Mountain has opened a program called ‘Remarkable Raptors’ to educated visitors further about birds of prey and understanding that some of these birds – especially the Northern Spotted Owl – are highly endangered and need just as much protection as the orphaned bears.

Through all of this there was only one song stuck in my head for the rest of the day; “we’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one. I’m not scared, I’m not scared.”

Have you seen bears?
Have you visited Grouse Mountain?
I want to hear your experiences below!

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Detailsgrouse_mountain

Grouse Mountain

Where:
Grouse Mountain
6400 Nancy Greene Way
North Vancouver District, BC

How Much?
Adults – CDN$39.95
Youth (13-18)
– CDN$23.95
Children (5-12) – CDN$13.95
Family – CDN$105.95 (2 adults and 2 children/youth under 19)

Children under 5 ride for free when sharing a seat with an adult.

This pricing is for the Alpine Experience tickets (round-trip Skyride and access to plateau activities, including the refuge). For additional prices check the Grouse Mountain website.

How to get there:

Free shuttle available from downtown Vancouver (Canada Place) every day during the summer months with the purhcase of a General Admission ticket throughout the summer. More information.

You can also use public transport to get to Grouse Mountain. Catch Bus 232 – Phibbs Exchange or Bus 236 – Lonsdale Quay.

Click here to see all of Grouse Mountains transport options.

Extra Information:

  • Most services – including the Skyride (gondola) – run from 8:45 til 10pm.
  • There are a number of cafes, restaurants and a bar at the top of the mountain.
  • For the more adventurous try the Grouse Grind, paragliding, mountain ziplines or skiing. (additional cost)
  • Parking at the mountain costs CDN$3 for two-hours of CDN$5 for a full-day.
  • Click here for all of the ski information at Grouse Mountain.

Website: www.grousemountain.com

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Angela
    July 17, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Bears are pretty awesome. I haven’t seen one in the wild but would love to.
    It’s a good thing there are place like this who help orphaned and endangered animals, but I understand your mixed feelings. Animals shouldn’t be in a cage.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 4, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      If you ever have the chance, take a trip to Banff or Jasper in the summer time (especially late May/early June). You’ll definitely have the chance to see bears around then but don’t get out of your car!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Angela!

  • Reply
    Hogga
    July 18, 2013 at 3:06 am

    ahhh they are soo cute!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      They are ridiculously cute! You should go visit Grouse Mountain when you’re in Vancouver next. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kate - Canuckiwikate
    July 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    We didn’t go up Grouse Mountain (therefore one of my many reasons to return to VanCity) but we did see plenty of bears in the wild, roaming free along the side of the road in BC, Alberta and Northern Ontario!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Oh wow! That would have been amazing.

      We saw one wild bear just outside of Jasper. Well, the cameras saw it, I could hardly see it because traffic was blocking it and people had their cameras glued to the windshield. Next time…

  • Reply
    Claire
    July 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I absolutely loved Grouse Mountain when I went there back in October. It’s such a magical place and the bears made the visit so special. To see them up close and personal was truly awesome and I would love to go and visit Grouse Mountain and Vancouver again sometime in the near future.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Hey Claire,

      Have you ever tried the zip-lining? That’s on my ‘to do’ list when I go back in August.

      I think it’s the bears that make it a truly special place, especially the story of how they adopted them.

      I hope you do get to go back to visit Grouse Mountain!

  • Reply
    Lydia C. Lee
    July 19, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Those bears are so majestic (and scary). You don’t really comprehend the strength and size until you see them – alas only in zoos for me (so far…)lovely photos by the way…

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      They are a little bit scary but pretty cute! Hope you get to see them up close (but not too close) soon.

      Thank you for your kind comment about my photos. I really appreciate it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelsey
    July 19, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I love bears! I can’t help but think how cute they are even though they are massive compared to the size of my own teddy bear haha.

    Kelsey

    x

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 4, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Haha, yes teddy bears are pretty deceptive about the size of real bears!

      Hope you get to see them up close soon. If you have the chance I highly recommend Grouse Mountain!

  • Reply
    Glenda
    July 27, 2013 at 6:25 am

    I was there just a couple of days prior….my daughter and I loved the bears. We saw the bears walking in the forested area towards their enclosure after the lumberjack show. . It was a huge area for them in the forest to roam. It was very well done. We were all gasping at the closeness. We were only separated by an electrified wire fence. It was an amazing experience. The bears are absolutely beautiful and were very relaxed from what I could see. There was also no snow in that area? Where was the snow? It was height of summer and so warm.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      I was there late May and there was plenty of snow around at the top of the mountain from the time you got off the gondola. You’re lucky you came when it was all melted. I bet it was so much more beautiful!

      Glad to hear you and your daughter had a great experience getting up-close to the bears!

  • Reply
    Lorna Sharp
    January 12, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Husband and I visited Grouse Mountain in July/August 2000. At the top, the air was thick with what the guide called Noseeums. As I am allergic to insect bites I did not leave the visitor centre, but my husband went to see the lumberjacks and bears etc. He said he felt he was being bitten but there was nothing to see on his skin. However next day I did not recognise him as his face was so swollen he couldn’t eat or speak or even see!! I used ice and antihistamines to counter the swelling and it went down in a couple of days. Not good for meeting relatives for the first time! I am writing this because he still occasionally gets random swelling on his trunk, hands and face to this day. Sometimes red patches also. Has to take Fexofenadine. That’s over 14 years ago now! Anyone heard of this and what bit him? It was obviously a hatching, as friends had been up the day before and saw zero flying insects. It must have happened to other people. My husband usually does not react to insect bites.

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