Erik’s Famous Capilano Tour Part Two: The Salmon Run

Using every ounce of energy remaining, thousands of determined Coho salmon fight their way back up from the ocean to the clear mountain waters of the Capilano River, North Vancouver, to lay their eggs where they were born.

Once this task has been completed, they die, unable to adapt to the change in water conditions.

This is one of nature’s great occurrences – the salmon run.

When the Cleveland Dam was built in 1954, this blocked the route and around 95 per cent of the spawning habitat was destroyed.

For the next couple of decades, many of the fish were manually moved past the dam, but a better solution came in 1971 with the founding of the Capilano Salmon Hatchery.

This was one of the stops on the day tour to Capilano Suspension Bridge and was both an attractive and interesting environment to be in.

As I explained in the first chapter about this trip, the bridge turned out to be a small element of the day compared to the other sights.

Millions of salmon hatch here and are reared and released into the wild.

After spending a few years at sea, they will instinctively find their way back to the river so that the cycle of life and death can begin all over again.

I struggle to find directions using a map within a two-mile radius and these fish are capable of making such a huge journey back to where their lives began years earlier.

The idea of this amazed me.

Along with discovering the incredible story of the salmon run, this was also the perfect peaceful spot to sit down on some rocks near the river and enjoy some lunch.

The mountain water is so clear and oxygen-rich – the perfect conditions for the salmon.

The best time of year to view the Coho adults on the salmon run is from June until November.

This was a beautiful and relaxing scene that allowed us to refuel before heading into the forest for a long trek…



  1. May 17, 2012 / 04:24

    Great photos. The salmon look like they have grown a bit since i was there. I was really impressed by their life cycle, as i have no sense of direction myself i admired their efforts.
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    • May 17, 2012 / 23:46

      Hey Michelle, their life cycle and sense of direction is incredible. Such a stunning place where the hatchery is located as well :-)