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Visiting Vancouver, British Columbia: A Skyline Dominated by the North Shore Mountains

Updated on October 10, 2020
Provincial flag of British Columbia
Provincial flag of British Columbia | Source
Aerial view of Vancouver and the Coast Mountains taken from a flight leaving the Vancouver Int'l Airport.
Aerial view of Vancouver and the Coast Mountains taken from a flight leaving the Vancouver Int'l Airport. | Source
Queen Elizabeth Park, North Shore Mountains dusted in snow.
Queen Elizabeth Park, North Shore Mountains dusted in snow. | Source

Numerous peaks visibly juxtaposed with Vancouver's Downtown

Boasting and exaggerating are easy.

But it is also true to say that probably few other cities anywhere in the world have a skyline as spectacular as that of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Vancouver's situation on the North Pacific's Strait of Georgia, overlooked by the North Shore Mountains — as many of the closer peaks of the Rockies's Pacific Ranges are collectively called — is what gives the City an arguably almost unrivalled skyline.

Among these peaks are included:

The Lions, comprised of West Lion, at 1,646 m and East Lion, at 1,606 m; the small community of Lions Bay is named for these extinct volcanic peaks. To the Squamish First Nation the peaks are called: 'Ch'ich'iyúy Elxwíkn'.

Crown Mountain, at 1,504 m, is topped by a granite pyramid.

Grouse Mountain, at 1,231 m, is situated close to North Vancouver, and is noted for its cable car access, known as the Garaventa Red Skyride. Seasonally, at nearby Grouse Mountain Resort, guided hikes, helicopter tours and many activities are available.

Mount Fromme, at 1,185 m, which is highly forested, is sometimes confused with nearby Grouse Mountain; mountain biking is a noted, popular activity on its slopes.

Mount Seymour, at 1,449 m, is set within Mount Seymour Provincial Park; it is named for a former Governor of British Columbia, and has a number of peaks.

A general comment about the North Shore Mountains is that their deceptive proximity to Vancouver should not cause would be hikers and skiing enthusiasts and mountaineers to ignore weather forecasts or to omit to make preparations (1) and obtain suitable equipment: severe weather conditions can arise year round, despite the visible proximity of Greater Vancouver, with its sometimes mild weather.

While other cities are on scenic coastlines and not a few cities have mountain peaks as backdrops, it is perhaps Vancouver's combination of Pacific waters and mountain peaks that makes its skyline so spectacular. It may not be particularly healthy for visitors to Downtown Vancouver to restrict themselves to engaging in 'armchair mountaineering', but the City's scenic resources make this at least possible.

March 3, 2020


(1) Some resources for hikers include: ;

Vancouver horizon
Vancouver horizon | Source

Also worth seeing

Among the numerous, outstanding visitor attractions in Vancouver, a very few of these include: The Lookout, with excellent views of the city, the surrounding Rockies and Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park and Lions Gate Bridge, Gastown; False Creek and Science World; the Vancouver Art Gallery; the 1907 Dominion Building; the 1911 Sun Tower; the 1914 Waterfront Station; Granville Island; and many others.

Vancouver is also ideally situated for day trips to British Columbian mountain destinations such as Whistler (distance: 123.8 kilometres / 76.9 miles) and Peace Arch Park (Peace Arch Provincial Park in Canada and Peace Arch Historical State Park in the United States), shared between the Province of British Columbia at Surrey and the US State of Washington, at Blaine (distance: 48.9 kilometers / 30.4 miles).


How to get there

WestJet and Air Canada fly to Vancouver International Airport, Richmond (distance from Downtown Vancouver: 10.8 kilometres / 6.7 miles), with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of Vancouver, British Columbia
Map location of Vancouver, British Columbia | Source

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