From gnarly double diamond trails to mellow greens, the twin mountains that make famous Whistler Blackcomb ski resort have something for every level of skier and snowboarder.
This is North America’s largest ski resort, with an impressive 200 downhill runs, plus bowls and phenomenal backcountry terrain (check out the heli-ski options). You could spend weeks – no let’s make that months – skiing this whopping 3300-hectare resort and still not hit every run. To help you make a good effort of it though is the engineering marvel that is the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, spanning 4.4km across the valley.
If clicking on skis isn’t your thing, try one of the numerous other winter activities available. Dog sledding is a popular choice for families, while adrenalin junkies will love snowmobiling, and if you want to get your fitness fix, hire snowshoes and explore the forest trails around the village.
The ski season runs from November to May.
The warmer months are arguably the best time to visit Whistler, when the ski runs become awesome mountain-bike tracks. Whistler Mountain Bike Park has a huge following, with Summer Gravity Camps teaching keen riders how to shred like a pro, and an indoor facility called the Air Dome, complete with pump track and foam pit.
Summertime is also when you can explore the surrounding wilderness on horseback, go for a hike, fly through coastal rainforest via zipline or simply enjoy a refreshing swim in one of the lakes. If you want to see some of the black bears that call the area home, you can also sign up for a tour. Russet Lake is also a picturesque spot for a cooling dip when it gets really warm.
There is a huge range of dining options on the mountain, scattered throughout the pretty village and in the neighbouring suburb of Creekside. For mountain fare, head to Crystal Hut, a log cabin where you can feast on Belgian waffles all day. Re-fuel as you soak up the stunning views from this cosy café 1845 metres above sea level.
There is a legendary apres-ski scene here, too, meaning you’re spoilt for choice with cool bars, pubs with great patio dining, and clubs with dancefloors that thump into the wee hours.
One of the top spots is Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill, known as the GLC, above the Whistler Gondola building. Dine on a hearty pasta while enjoying a beer or cocktail, and continue into the evening with a mix of DJ tunes and live music.
Hostels, family hotels, stylish condos and luxury chains, Whistler welcomes all types of travellers no matter their budget. A short stroll from the lifts is The Westin Resort & Spa, while Whistler Peak Lodge is a comfortable choice in the heart of the village.
If you want to stay slightly away from the main hub, check out Legends, a ski-in ski-out option next to Creekside Express Gondola.
It’s easy to grab a seat on a shuttle bus as soon as you land at Vancouver International Airport and be whisked up the highway into the heart of Whistler village, about two hours’ drive north. Hiring a car is also an option, although you’ll want winter driving experience if you go during the ski season.
If you really want to arrive in style, though, book a seat on a seaplane departing downtown Vancouver and you’ll be there in 45 minutes.
Words by Jennifer Ennion.
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