Whistler is best known as a world class ski resort in the winter months, and the impressive infrastructure they put in place ahead of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics certainly reflects this. I was fortunate to visit Whistler in September 2017, during the summer months, when it is transformed into a world class mountain biking destination. Anyone who’s enjoyed Christchurch’s new Adventure Park should definitely pay it’s big brother in Canada a visit! Mountain bikers in protective garb can be seen everywhere, and there are high-end bike shops offering bike & gear hire.
Only a 90 minute (125km) drive from Vancouver up the spectacular ‘Sea to Sky’ highway, Whistler is absolutely humming with younger visitors in the summer – think of it as an even more upscale version of Queenstown, with boutique shopping and great selection of very lively restaurants and bars for evening entertainment. Weekends are especially busy and you may have a wait for a table in popular hangouts, but this is an incredibly well organised resort town that copes well with the influx of visitors year-round. It’s well worth a visit for a night or two if your schedule permits.
Whistler also offers an extensive network of walking trails, both in the valley and also from the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. If you have a day to explore, I’d highly recommend the PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience Day Ticket at CAD$59 per person as this allows you to travel up either Whistler or Blackcomb lifts, between the two mountains on the truly amazing 4.4km long ‘Peak to Peak’ gondola that links Whistler Mountain’s Roundhouse Lodge with Blackcomb Mountain’s Rendezvous Lodge and also take the ‘Peak Express’ cable car to the highest points of 2182m on Whistler Mountain. This high point gives you access to the famous nukshuk viewpoint and some of the best views in Canada!
The network of walking trails is more extensive on the Blackcomb side of the two peaks, with trails graded like ski runs as ‘easy’, ‘moderate’ and ‘difficult’. There are short well graded walks of one hour or less, intermediate (2-3hr) hikes and also advanced steeper grade hikes (3-4hrs) for those with proper footwear and provisions. Signage is excellent, but take plenty of water as you’ll dehydrate quickly at altitude. The views down to the valley over the village and over to Cheakamus Lake are absolutely sensational, and once you’ve worked up an appetite or thirst, there’s a cafe on both peaks for refreshments!