Picture this: You're standing on the edge of North Vancouver, gazing at the imposing Cleveland Dam. It's a clear day, the sun dances on the water of Capilano Lake below, and towering mountains frame the scene, their peaks still dusted with snow in the spring.
Cleveland Dam isn’t your typical landmark. So, let’s dive into what makes this place so captivating and why it's a must-visit on your list.
What does the Cleveland Dam do?
The Cleveland Dam, standing at almost 300 ft (91 metres) high, holds back the 670-acre Capilano Lake (also known as Capilano reservoir), which supplies drinking water to the Lower Mainland. It is situated in the scenic Capilano River Regional Park in North Vancouver.
While the dam itself may not be massive in size, it effectively fulfills its role of capturing and preserving the pristine lake water. The dam can provide up to a third of Metro Vancouver's water supply.
As an attraction, Cleveland Dam has gained popularity because of the breathtaking views of iconic landmarks such as Grouse Mountain, Crown Mountain, and the renowned Lions, and the lake flowing into the dam.
The walk across the Cleveland Dam is relatively short and can be completed in just a few minutes. However, many visitors choose to savor the moment to take photographs of the breathtaking views from the top.
The Cleveland Dam derives its name from Ernest Albert Cleveland, who served as the inaugural chief commissioner of the Greater Vancouver Water District from 1926 to 1952.
He’s also the engineer who recognized the imperative for maintaining a pure and efficient water supply and promoting sustainable water resource management.
Best Time to Go
The best times to visit the Cleveland Dam are during the spring and fall months.
In late spring, you can enjoy the breathtaking sight of distant mountain peaks still adorned with snow, and the increased water flow resulting from snowmelt. In the fall, you can get a unique natural experience as salmon spawn at the hatchery.
For those who prefer fewer crowds, visiting during the off-seasons of summer and winter is a great option.
The winter season also provides unique photography opportunities with the snow-covered mountains and the frozen lake, while summer offers a lush green landscape.
Additionally, summer and winter are favorable for engaging in various outdoor activities in the vicinity of the Cleveland Dam, including hiking and snowshoeing in the nearby mountains and parks.
Another great time to visit the Cleveland Dam is when the gates are opened to release water, which creates a spectacular sight as water spills out. This adds an extra element of fascination to your visit.
How to Get There
Car: If you’re driving from Vancouver to the Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver, it should take you approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Start by heading west on Marine Drive (BC-1A W) and keep to the left when you approach Capilano Road.
Turn left onto Prospect Avenue and continue on until you reach the Cleveland Dam parking lot on your right, just north of Montroyal Boulevard.
Public transit: If you prefer public transportation, you can take the 232, 236, or 247 bus routes to reach the Cleveland Dam.
The nearest bus stops to the dam are NB Nancy Greene Way @ Prospect Ave and EB Clements Ave @ Capilano Rd, both of which are just a short six-minute walk away from the dam.
You can also take the SeaBus from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay. Exit the SeaBus walk to Bay 8 of the bus stop, catch the 236 bus to Grouse Mountain, and get off at NB Nancy Greene Way.
What to Do near Cleveland Dam
Visit Capilano Salmon Hatchery
Close to the Cleveland Dam, the Capilano Salmon Hatchery offers a unique natural experience. It’s a peaceful retreat within the lush Pacific Northwest rainforest, ideal for nature lovers and those interested in preserving British Columbia’s natural beauty.
The hatchery’s main attraction is the mesmerizing salmon life cycle. From observation decks, you can witness salmon returning to their birthplace to spawn, a remarkable display of nature’s resilience.
Educational programs and informative displays at the hatchery shed light on salmon’s crucial role in local ecosystems and conservation efforts. Friendly staff are available to answer your questions.
Before you leave, browse the gift shop for eco-friendly souvenirs that support conservation efforts.
Hike the Trails around the Dam
Around Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver, the trails beckon nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. These trails offer diverse hiking experiences for those who want to connect with nature.
Begin with the 6.5-kilometer Capilano Pacific Trail. It winds through lush forests along the Capilano River, providing stunning canyon and forest views.
Opt for the shorter 2-kilometer Cleveland Dam Loop Trail for an easy hike with panoramic views of Capilano Lake and the mountains.
For a tougher challenge, try the Baden-Powell Trail, which intersects with the Capilano Pacific Trail. This trail offers rugged terrain and steep climbs, rewarding hikers with sweeping views of the North Shore Mountains and Burrard Inlet.
Keep an eye out for local wildlife and plant life, including eagles, salmon during spawning season, and various forest flora.
Remember to wear appropriate footwear, carry water, and bring snacks if you’re exploring longer trails. Always practice Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment.
Cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge
The highlight of your visit is undoubtedly the breathtaking suspension bridge itself, stretching 137 meters across the Capilano River and dangling 70 meters above the canyon floor.
As you step onto this swaying, wooden bridge, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the lush rainforest, the rushing river below, and the stunning backdrop of the North Shore Mountains.
But the bridge is just the beginning. The park offers a network of treetop walkways known as the Treetops Adventure and Cliffwalk, a suspended walkway that clings to the granite cliffs of the Capilano Canyon.
Both are thrilling experiences, which make for a perfect complement to your visit to the Cleveland Dam, providing excitement, natural beauty, and unforgettable memories in the heart of North Vancouver’s wilderness.
Where to Stay near Cleveland Dam
Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier
Address: 138 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver, BC V7L 0B1, Canada
Phone: +1 604-986-7437
The Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier is an excellent choice for visitors planning to explore the Cleveland Dam and the beautiful North Vancouver area.
For those looking to use public transportation to reach destinations like the Cleveland Dam or other parts of North Vancouver, the hotel’s proximity to North Vancouver Station, only a four-minute drive away, provides a convenient and efficient transit option.
Located just a short two-minute walk from the Lonsdale Quay Market, this hotel offers easy access to the vibrant waterfront and its many attractions.
Back at the hotel, you’ll find a range of amenities to enhance your stay. Unwind in the five-lane swimming pool or savor exquisite seafood dishes at The Lobby, the hotel’s restaurant known for its culinary delights.
Times Square Suites Hotel Vancouver
Address: 1821 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E4, Canada
Phone: +1 604-684-2223
Times Square Suites Hotel Vancouver boasts a central location, making it an ideal choice for guests planning to explore the Cleveland Dam and its environs.
For those headed to the Cleveland Dam, a short 15 to 20-minute drive from the hotel provides quick access.
Alternatively, nearby bus stops offer a public transportation option, although the travel time may double, offering a scenic but lengthier journey.
Fairmont Pacific Rim
Address: 1038 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B9, Canada
Phone: +1 604-695-5300
The Fairmont Pacific Rim is conveniently located just 20 minutes away by car or a 40-minute public transit ride from the Cleveland Dam, making it a convenient base for exploring this interesting attraction.
This modern downtown hotel offers fantastic mountain and harbor views, with a design influenced by the Pacific Rim, which matches the exclusive art, music, and fashion events that are hosted here.
Guests at this hotel can savor their stay with three dining options, indulge in spa treatments, take in the rooftop pool, and relax in lavish guestrooms.
Seaside Hotel Vancouver
Address: 125 Victory Ship Way #130, North Vancouver, BC V7L 0G5, Canada
Phone: +1 604-973-1473
Situated in the Shipyards District, the Seaside Hotel Vancouver is just minutes from the Cleveland Dam and conveniently close to other attractions like the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
This upscale property offers chic rooms and a range of world-class amenities for an exceptional stay.
Auberge Vancouver Hotel
Address: 837 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1B6, Canada
Phone: +1 855-678-8998
This hotel in downtown Vancouver boasts proximity to various attractions, including Stanley Park, Granville Island, and the Vancouver Aquarium. The Cleveland Dam is reachable within 27 minutes by car or nearly an hour via public transit.
Furthermore, Auberge Hotel provides luxurious accommodations, featuring spacious suites, a well-equipped fitness center, and a restaurant for your convenience and comfort.
Where to Eat near Cleveland Dam
Address: 3270 Edgemont Blvd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 2P2, Canada
Phone: +1 604-971-5288
Kokomo offers a diverse menu with breakfast and lunch servings, bowls, baked goods, and smoothies. It’s known for its unique vegetarian options, such as the power melt smoothie and hemp Caesar salad.
Address: 3246 Connaught Crescent #108, North Vancouver, BC V7R 0A7, Canada
Phone: +1 604-670-8226
Voted as the Favorite Mexican Restaurant in the 2023 Readers Choice Awards given by North Shore News, Cantina Norte sports some of the best food and beverages worth trying in the area.
Get their Nachos Norte if you’re sharing with friends, or their Barbacoa. We bet there’s more great food waiting on their menu to be tried.
Angry Otter Tap and Forno
Address: 1015 Marine Dr, North Vancouver, BC V7P 1S6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-984-1842
The drive from the Cleveland Dam to Angry Otter takes just around 12 minutes. As a happening place, Angry Otter can enhance your outing with delicious food and a welcoming atmosphere.
The standout feature at Angry Otter is undoubtedly their double forno oven, which adds rustic charm to their dishes. Their selection of craft beers also elevates the dining experience.