Grouse Mountain is easily accessible, a 25-minute drive over the Lions Gate Bridge from the city centre, or a short bus ride from Lonsdale Quay. There's a car park at the foot of the mountain, where you'll also find a Starbucks, the Guest Services office, and the Skyride (pictured), a giant gondola which departs every 15 minutes, 9am-10pm, seven days a week.
The Skyride transports a maximum of 100 passengers to the top in less than ten minutes. The Alpine Station, located 1,100 metres (3,700 feet) above sea level, is a large stone complex that houses a ski and hiking store, tourist bits and bobs, and several dining options, ranging from fast food buffets to the Observatory, a fine dining establishment open 5-10pm (phone 604 980 9311 to reserve). Your Skyride ticket ($32.95 for adults) covers entrance to the Theatre in the Sky, an IMAX cinema which shows a couple of short BC travelogues on the half hour, and the wildlife refuge, a five-acre habitat that is home to a pack of grey wolves (retired film stars who were born and raised in captivity) and orphan grizzly bears Grinder and Coola - the only grizzlies you'll meet in this neck of the woods (though it's possible you'll see black bears in the wild in spring and summer). Two resident peregrine falcons, Caliph and Emir, participate in flying demonstrations three times a day. From May to September, admission also includes a lumberjack show (at noon, 2.30pm and 4.30pm) and a guided eco walk (reservations advised). In winter, there are complimentary sleigh rides, and possible sightings of Santa and his reindeer. The pond becomes a skating rink - there is a small fee for skate rentals - and queues snake down the hill outside the ski and snowboard rental shop. Grouse can't compete with Whistler-Blackcomb for the length or breadth of its ski runs, but on a clear day the views over Vancouver are breathtaking. (The price of a lift pass includes the Skyride trip: currently $47 for an adult.) Floodlights allow night skiing on 13 runs until 10pm.
In the summer, a surprising number of visitors eschew the Skyride and pit themselves against the Grouse Grind, locally known as 'Mother Nature's Stairmaster'. Built largely of big wooden steps, the Grind gains about 850 metres (2,800 feet) in 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles), with a gradient steeper than 50 degrees in parts. Signs caution that the 'extremely difficult and strenuous climb' is open May to October, but closes due to weather, erosion, 'or search and rescue'. Still confident? You can buy a Summit Seeker card (at Guest Services) for $20 and 'swipe in' to the timer at the bottom and the top. Inside the lodge, a computer spews out results. The average climber takes 1.5 hours. The computer will also let you know what you've achieved over the season - for example, 24 grinds equals Kilimanjaro, 54 equals Everest. Just don't expect to beat the record times, set in the annual Grouse Grind Mountain Run in September (26 minutes 19 seconds for men, 31 minutes 4 seconds for women). Check the website for current weather conditions and information regarding special paragliding and helicopter tours.
Grouse Mountain's attractions include a 300ft half-pipe for snowboarders, snowshoe trails, a mountain top ice rink, and the Observatory restaurant for fine dining with a fabulous view of the city. Head up via the Skyride cable car.