Coming from Seattle, it’s difficult not to feel a little envious that George Grant Mackay (the same responsible for the Capilano Bridge) didn’t settle here too and set aside such a large swathe of land for public use. Don’t get me wrong, Seattle has some beautiful parks, they’re just not on the same scale, or with the proximity to the downtown area as Stanley Park is.
Leaving the Sylvia Hotel, we turned right and in about a minute we were in Stanley Park: 1,000 acres of trees, grass, and foot and bike paths. One path follows the perimeter of the park, allowing you to walk, bike, or rollerblade along the waterfront the whole way round. Alternatively, well marked trails weave in and out of the park. Most of it is forested but areas on the eastside are set aside for attractions such as cricket, an aquarium, and a rose garden.
As we walked north towards Third Beach we could see signs of the damage left by the windstorms that swept through the park in December 2006. The park was closed to the public for a while but repair work must have been very swift as paths were clear and any areas of damage were clearly marked or fenced off.
Along the water we spotted herons fishing in the shallows. Closer to Siwash Rock we saw a cautious raccoon scampering through the ivy although he gathered up enough courage to investigate closer to the footpath. We turned back at Siwash Rock, stopping to admire the manmade, gravity-defying rock towers that have been constructed close to Second Beach.
The following day we drove over to the Totem Poles at Brockton Point, reportedly the most visited tourist attraction in all of British Columbia. Parking is easy to come by although there is a charge ($1.85US / hour or $6.48US / day) but to see the Totem Poles is free. The group of about eight poles are set at the edge of a lawn park, with a back drop of tall bright trees. Just to the north of them you get a wide view of Burrard Inlet and the Lion’s Gate Bridge.
Whichever route you follow through or around Stanley Park, one piece of advice I can offer is "don’t forget your camera", as the views from any side are quite phenomenal.