Whistler

Whistler is near Vancouver in British Columbia. Boasting the largest ski area in North America, Whistler is a popular winter skiing and outdoor sports destination. The official name for the municipality is the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

Understand

Before the skiers and snowboarders came, Whistler was a logging town called Alta Lake. The area was known for its snow and a group of investors hatched a plan to build a ski resort in the hopes of attracting the 1968 Winter Olympics. The Olympic dream didn't come through immediately, but the first ski resort opened in what is now the Creekside area in 1967 and a second resort opened on Blackcomb mountain in 1980. The two merged in 1988 and full-scale development of Whistler Village began shortly after.

Whistler got its Olympic wishes in 2010, as it hosted most of the ski and sliding events for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 0 3 7 12 16 19 23 24 19 11 3 0
Nightly lows (°C) -6 -4 -2 0 4 7 9 9 5 1 -2 -6
Precipitation (mm) 157 120 96 75 66 58 48 48 64 147 188 162

See the Whistler 7 day forecast at Environment Canada

Not surprisingly for a ski resort, Whistler gets its fair share of snow and cold weather. Winter temperatures average about 0°C during the day and -6°C overnight in the village with snow typically on the ground from December into April. Summer days can be quite warm, with temperatures reaching the high Celsius 20s, but nights tend to be cool. As with the rest of the Lower Mainland, there is significantly more precipitation from November through April than other times of the year.

Get in

By car

Whistler is connected to the rest of British Columbia by the Sea To Sky Highway (Highway 99), a beautiful but windy and, at times narrow, road. The highway was significantly upgraded and widened prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics and is now much safer compared to the past, when it had a slightly dangerous reputation, but care should still be taken when driving, especially in winter conditions. The section along Howe Sound between Vancouver and Squamish is probably one of the most scenic routes to be found anywhere. Typical driving time from Vancouver is about 2-2.5 hours. There are a number of rideshare sites available where you can find people to share the journey and costs. If you have time go back the long way to Vancouver by the Dufffey Lake Road through Lillooet & Fraser Canyon: Fantastic Alpine Lakes the small "Marble Canyon", Semi-Arid Lillooet - long needle pines & sage brush: an extension of the Sonorian Desert, and the down the Fraser River back to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver's west coast marine Rain Forest.

By bus

Greyhound Canada provides bus service several times daily, connecting Vancouver to the communities along Hwy 99 as far as Pemberton. There is an additional daily express service that stops only at Squamish and Whistler.

During the winter, additional companies offer bus service connecting the Vancouver region to Whistler.

By taxi

Whistler Resort Cabs, +1 604-938-1515, , provides taxi service from Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport to Whistler for $255.

RideBooker.com operates shuttles between between Vancouver International Airport and Whistler.

If a number of people are travelling together it is possible to go by Limo for $350-400 with room for between 6 and 10 people.

By air

The nearest large airport is 'Vancouver International Airport (IATA: YVR). There are bus and limousine companies that provide direct shuttle service from the airport to Whistler. Tickets for Snowbus (Tourism BC Visitor Centre) and Pacific Coach Lines (SkyLynx counter) can be purchased in the arrivals hall. Car rental is also available at the airport (in winter, always request snow tires and inspect to confirm they were installed).

Visitors arriving from the United States may find flying domestically to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEA) or Bellingham International Airport (IATA: BLI) and taking bus services across the border to be a cheaper option. The bus journey will be upwards of 5 hours. Quick Shuttle offers bus services.

Whistler does have two small air facilities — a heliport and a seaplane base. They're mainly used for sightseeing but do have a few regional chartered flights.

Pemberton, 45 minutes north of Whistler, also has a small (international) airport with charters service.

By train

Get around

The town of Whistler sprawls out around the valley, but the heart of the Whistler experience focuses on the European-style villages built around the base of the gondolas. Most of the accommodation, restaurants, bars, shops and the Blackcomb and Whistler gondolas are in Whistler Village and the Upper Village, at the foot of Whistler and Blackcomb. Village North (Blackcomb Village), built around the old base of Blackcomb, is smaller but still has a number of restaurants and hotels. Whistler Creekside is built around the original gondola on the south side of Whistler Mountain.

The easiest way to get around most of Whistler is by foot. Whistler Village and the Upper Village are mostly pedestrian walkways and small enough that you can walk anywhere. A short trail (5-10 minutes) links it with Village North and there is also an extensive system of trails that links Whistler Village with many of the parks, golf courses and beaches in other parts of the valley. Cars are best used if you're trying to reach some of the outlying areas. If you do use a car, the main road through town is Highway 99.

By bus

Operated by BC Transit, the WAVE, +1 604 932-4020, is Whistler's public transit system and is considered very good for a city of its size. It runs regularly from 5:30AM to 3AM all year. Commuter services are also offered to Pemberton and Squamish. Flat fares are $2.50 for adults and $1.50 for seniors over 65 and students up to grade 12, although there are some routes which are free services. A book of ten adult tickets can be purchased for $15, or a day pass for $5, from the visitor centre and other authorised outlets. A transfer is available on request from the driver for connecting buses.

By bike

In the summer months there are many bike rental outfits. A valley trail connects 99% of all areas within and around Whistler. This is a paved 2- lane trail system that is very pleasant and fast to get around on. More advanced trails head north to Pemberton and south to Squamish for those who may be more adventurous.

By taxi

See

Do

Whistler-Blackcomb

Excellent skiing

If skiing or boarding is your thing, it's hard to be disappointed with Whistler-Blackcomb, 1-800-766-0449 (toll-free) or +1 604-904-8134, . With 37 lifts servicing over 200 runs on two mountains and a vertical drop of over 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), Whistler-Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America and consistently ranks as one of the top three ski destinations in North America. The variety of terrain is huge ranging from beginner areas to chutes and trees and groomed cruising runs to alpine bowls heaped with powder after a fresh snow fall so there should be something to suit everyone. On the freestyle side of things, it has four terrain parks, a snow cross track and a superpipe.

If you are staying in Whistler Village or are parked in the day lots, the closest access point for both mountains is the two gondolas from Skiers Plaza in Whistler Village. The ride up takes 20-25 minutes and lineups can be long during the morning. Whistler Creekside has a gondola that accesses the southwest side of Whistler Mountain. This is a long walk from the Village so it is only useful if you are staying in the Creekside area or have a car. Village North has a couple of lifts that access Blackcomb Mountain and a beginners area. The gondolas start operation at 8:30AM and stop between 3PM and 4PM, depending on the time of the year. Snow conditions are available from the Snow Phone at +1-800-766-0449.

Both mountains open the fourth weekend of November and the main season runs until late April. Conditions permitting, the resort will keep one of the mountains open until early June for spring skiing. An adult lift ticket costs $89 at peak times of the year (typically over Christmas and during March), with slightly cheaper rates at other times. Spring skiing tickets are cheaper at $47. Lift tickets are also available at the 7-Eleven convenience store in Squamish (on the drive up from Vancouver), where they are sold at a small discount.

The Blackcomb Glacier opens for a few hours a day from mid-June to early August, but there are only a few runs as most of it is used by summer ski and snowboard camps.

Other activities

Alpine hiking delights

Learn

Buy

As is common to tourist-centric villages and towns, Whistler village has a number of shops. In general, the shopping is better and you'll find more variety in nearby Vancouver, so if you're on a budget, your money is likely to go farther in Vancouver. On the other hand, many of the stores in Whistler village are a pleasure to visit and the outdoor setting makes browsing (or shopping) more enjoyable than the large malls found in Vancouver.

Eat

Whistler village has a variety of restaurants ranging from very cheap fast food to expensive, and covering a number of styles. Regardless of what type of food you're looking for, the best way to find good food in Whistler is to take a walk around the village.

Whistler's on-slope food is surprisingly good and varied. Though you'll pay a small premium for the high altitude service, your udon bowl ($10) or salmon steak ($12) is similarly priced to the village below and though the seating arrangements may be less comfortable than what you'll find in the village, the dining views can't be beat. One special on-hill treat is the enormous waffles topped with berries, cream, and chocolate at the Crystal Hut on Blackcomb Mountain.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

One of the true joys of Whistler is to go to one of the many bars after a long day of skiing or outdoor activities. The bars are where many of the visitors gather and the atmosphere is laid back and easygoing.

You'll find almost any type of drink at the many bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs in Whistler. If you like beer, try a local "micro-brewery" beer at one of the pubs in the village.

Sleep

Pemberton is located 20 minutes north of Whistler and offers additional lodging options.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Apartments

Camping

Whistler is surprisingly short of organized places to camp. Most of those that exist are outside of town:

Connect

Go next

Routes through Whistler

Cache Creek Pemberton  N  S  Squamish Vancouver


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, October 19, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.