The Winter Side of Whistler

The Winter Side of Whistler

Story by David Burke | Images By Joern Rohde

Whistler Olympic Plaza, summer concerts.
The fall’s first dusting of snow in the valley always brings a murmur of anticipation to Whistler Village and its surrounding region — a whisper that rises with each passing day to a crescendo, culminating in the opening of skiing and snowboarding season. And it’s not just gravity-fuelled sports that Whistler’s legion of wintertime enthusiasts hanker for. It’s also the crisp winter air, the muffled silence of a snow-laden forest, the cozy warmth of friends and family enjoying hot beverages around that après-ski (or other outdoor activity) gathering place. Whether you’re a downhill slider or not, there’s no better place to be in winter than here.

Alpine skiers and riders aren’t the only people readying their gear in anticipation of that first day sliding on snow. The sport of Nordic, a.k.a. cross-country skiing saw a marked increase in popularity during the pandemic, and that growth shows no signs of abating. Its cousin, backcountry skiing, has also enjoyed steady growth, affording those with the proper gear, knowledge and training the chance to enjoy quiet, powder-filled days along the famed Spearhead Traverse and other routes.
Snowshoeing is another way to enjoy the peaceful solitude of a snow-filled forest. The Lost Lake Nordic trails near Whistler Village and Ski Callaghan in the Callaghan Valley offer great Nordic skiing and extensive, marked trail networks dedicated exclusively to snowshoers.

Whistler’s lakes normally freeze hard enough in winter for locals and guests to enjoy the classic Canadian activity of ice skating — and, with a bit of snow clearing, a game of pond (or lake) hockey, sometimes called “shinny.” Be sure to check the conditions before heading out. Resort guests can also skate outdoors on the rink at Whistler Olympic Plaza (rentals available), enjoying the twinkling lights of the Village as you glide across the ice, or indoors at the Meadow Park Sports Centre rink.

Whistler Farmers Market, summer.
Whistler Black Bear.

Whistler’s best-known winter activity is, of course, skiing or snowboarding on Whistler or Blackcomb mountain. Those looking to step up their game can sign up for a snow-school lesson. Non-skiers can take the Whistler Village or Blackcomb gondola into the alpine and ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola that links the two mountains to experience the spectacular alpine environment of snow-covered peaks and forested valleys from up high.
For an activity requiring little experience, head up to Whistler Blackcomb’s Coca-Cola® Tube Park at the Base II Zone on Blackcomb, where the whole family can enjoy the thrill of sliding downhill on inflatable tubes — separately or together. The park is easily accessed from the Village at no cost via the Excalibur Gondola. Be sure to wear warm winter clothing and goggles.

ImageAlexander Falls. Callaghan Valley.

Ziplining is a year-round activity that’s both thrilling and safe. In winter, soar through the snow-filled cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir forest above a glacier-fed creek. Tours combine a thrilling experience with fascinating and educational insights into the Whistler area’s ecology.
Another authentically Canadian activity, dogsledding, is a unique way to experience the wilderness, allowing guests to learn to mush their own team or simply relax and enjoy the ride led by an expert guide. Snowmobiling is also a fun and exciting way to access Whistler’s backcountry on a guided tour or an adventure into high alpine bowls for the experienced, big-mountain enthusiast.

Whistler is justifiably famous as a winter destination — a great time to enjoy all the resort has to offer. Visit