Magazine article Sunset

Vancouver's Other Grand Park

Magazine article Sunset

Vancouver's Other Grand Park

Article excerpt

Vancouver's other grand park

Moody forests, wild beaches, manicured gardens ... plenty to explore in new Pacific Spirit Park with the university campus next door Renowed for its bustling Chinatown, thriving Granville Market, and thousand-acre Stanley Park--all near downtown--Vancouver has even more diversions just 7 miles west of the city center. On Point Grey, overlooking the Strait of Georgia, moody forests and wild beach contrast with manicured public gardens and a striking museum of Coast Indian art. Newly created Pacific Spirit Regional Park adjoins University of British Columbia, this year celebrating its 75th anniversary with special events. Together, park and campus play a tranquil counterpoint to the busy pace downtown. Explore 40 miles of trails and beach, bicycle broad boulevards, or enjoy a drive (and perhaps a picnic) on a bluff above the sea. Spring, with its profusion of bloom, can be the best time to visit. Nitobe Memorial Garden is especially noteworthy, as are the rhododendrons that splash color through woodlands of the Asian Garden. April weather darts from blustery to summery (average rainfall is about 3 inches).

Walk through a Coast Indian village

In any weather, star attraction of the 995-acre UBC campus is its Museum of Anthropology. Designed by internationally known Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, it displays a superb collection of Haida and Kwagiutl carvings. Exhibits make you feel as if you are walking through an Indian village. Grimacing bears, giant ravens, and other carvings face you as you stroll from the entry down ramps to the Great Hall. There, against a 45-foot-tall wall of glass, upright totem poles look out to Burrard Inlet and more carvings. Allow at least 2 hours to visit the museum, open 11 to 5 Wednesdays through Sundays (until 9 Tuesdays); $2.50 U.S. Schedule tours a week ahead: (604) 228-4643. Ceramics wing opens in September.

A wealth of gardens, UBC celebrations

Largest and most diverse is the 60-acre UBC Botanical Garden. Among its delights are 8 shady acres of native plants, a Physick Garden with 16th-century herbs, an alpine rock garden, and a rambling Asian garden (a new observation platform overlooks forests and Georgia Strait). Hours are 10 to 5 daily; $2.50 U.S. Nitobe Memorial Garden is a consummate Japanese landscape circling a lake. Don't miss azaleas and other plantings surrounding the nearby Asian Centre. Hours are 10 to 5 daily; $1.25 U.S. The Rose Garden contains more than 350 varieties; bloom begins in June.

Campus fun, May 1 through August 31

Among anniversary offerings (many free) are campus and garden tours, children's theater, a music fest, and concerts. Pick up a calendar at the Student Union, at Gate 2 on Wesbrook Mall, 9 to 5 daily, or call 228-3131.

Visit new park on foot or by bike

Once part of provincial lands set aside for the university, for decades the park property lay untouched except for logging. In late 1988, nearly 1,900 acres were deeded to the Greater Vancouver Regional District, which put signs at entrances and opened a visitor center. For maps, stop by the center, open 1 to 4 daily May through August (check kiosk in April) on W. 16th Avenue, or call 432-6350. Managers are contending with an upsurge in mountain bikes, which have rutted and muddied many hiking trails, even where bikes are off limits. For now, wear ankle-high boots or rubber boots, or stick to garden paths or the beach. Use the map on to follow the walks we suggest--mostly on drier trails or the beach. Use the park's map to chart a route among dozens of intersecting paths. …

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