The 3-hour River of Golden Dreams Kayak & Canoe Tour is a great way for novices, intermediates, and experts to get acquainted with the beautiful stretch of slow-moving glacial water running between Green Lake and Alta Lake behind the village of Whistler. Contact the Whistler Visitor Information Centre (tel. 877/991-9988) for information. Packages begin at C$49 per person, unguided, and include all gear and return transportation to the village center. The information center can also assist with booking lessons and clinics, as well as windsurfing rentals.
There are four world-class golf courses in and around Whistler, making this Canada’s top golf resort. All the information you need regarding greens fees and tee times, plus golf packages and a passport, can be found through Golf Whistler (tel. 866/723-2747; www.golfwhistler.com).
Robert Trent Jones, Jr.’s, Fairmont Chateau Golf Club, at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, is an 18-hole, par-72 course that traverses mountain ledges and crosses cascading creeks. Nicklaus North at Whistler is a 5-minute drive north of the Village on the shores of Green Lake with spectacular mountain views. Whistler Golf Club, designed by Arnold Palmer, features nine lakes, two creeks, and magnificent vistas. And 20 minutes north of Whistler, Big Sky Golf & Country Club, designed by Robert Cupp, lies in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Currie.
A-1 Last Minute Golf Hotline (tel. 800/684-6344 or 604/878-1833) can arrange a next-day, last-minute tee time at Whistler golf courses and elsewhere in BC at more than 30 courses.
There’s every sort of hiking around Whistler, from an easy stroll along the Valley Trail to rugged, multi-day backcountry treks. You can also take a ski lift up to the alpine areas, or even hop aboard a helicopter to get into the true backcountry. Here are just a few of the best hikes:
Lost Lake Trail features 30km (20 miles) of marked trails that wind around creeks, beaver dams, blueberry patches, and lush cedar groves. The Valley Trail System is a well-marked, paved trail that connects parts of Whistler. Garibaldi Provincial Park’s Singing Pass Trail is a 4-hour hike of moderate difficulty. The fun way is to take the Whistler Mountain gondola to the top and walk down the well-marked path that ends on an access road in the Village. Nairn Falls Provincial Park, about 30km (20 miles) north of Whistler on Hwy. 99, features a 1.5km-long (1 mile) trail that leads you to a stupendous view of the glacial Green River and Mount Currie.
On Hwy. 99 north of Mount Currie, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has an intermediate-level hike that leads past several brilliant blue glacial lakes up to the very foot of a glacier. The Ancient Cedars area of Cougar Mountain, near the north end of Green Lake, is an awe-inspiring grove of towering cedars and Douglas firs, some of which are more than 1,000 years old.
Contact the Whistler Visitor Information Centre (tel. 877/991-9988 or 604/938-2769; www.tourismwhistler.com) for guided hikes and interpretive tours available through various Whistler operators.
Whistler Mountain Bike Park (tel. 866/218-9688; www.whistlerblackcomb.com/bike) offers some of the best mountain-biking trails, skill centers, and jump parks in the world. When the snow melts, the slope is reconfigured for biking—with more than 200km (125 miles) of marked trails, open mid-May to early October. The variety of trails can accommodate almost all ages and experience levels. Single-day ticket prices with gondola are C$55 to C$63 adults, C$49 to C$55 seniors and children 13 to 18, and C$33 to C$37 children 7 to 12. You can rent mountain bikes and body armor at Lost Lake Cross Country Connection (tel. 604/905-0071; www.crosscountryconnection.ca).
The Crankworx Whistler Freeride Mountain Bike Festival takes place in August, bringing hundreds of mountain bikers to town for some gnarly rides (tel. 800/944-7853; www.whistler.com/crankworx).
Adventure Ranch near Pemberton (tel. 604/894-5200; www.adventureranch.net) leads 2-hour horseback tours for C$69 from its Lillooet River-side ranch, 30 minutes from Whistler.
Whistler River Adventures (tel. 604/932-3532; www.whistlerriver.com) takes guests up the Lillooet River from near Pemberton. The tour surges past large rapids, spectacular glacier peaks, and traditional Native fishing camps. Deer, bear, osprey, and spawning salmon are frequently seen.
Wedge Rafting (tel. 888/932-5899 or 604/932-7171; www.wedgerafting.com) offers whitewater rafting tours that range from easy short trips to full-day adventures, and range in price from C$109 to C$169. Sun Wolf Outdoor Centre (tel. 877/806-8046 or 604/898-1537; www.sunwolf.net) leads family float trips as well as summer rafting trips and winter eagle-viewing trips on the Cheakamus and Squamish rivers. Full-day summer rafting trips cost C$165 per person, and the winter eagle trips cost C$100 per person.
The Whistler Racquet Club (4500 Northlands Blvd.; tel. 604/932-1991; www.whistlertennis.com) has three covered courts, seven outdoor courts, and a practice cage. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort (Fairmont Chateau Whistler Hotel, Upper Village, tel. 604/938-8000; www.fairmont.com/whistler) also offers courts to drop-in players. Free public courts (tel. 604/935-7529) are located at Alpha Lake, Meadow, Millar's Pond, Brio, Balsam, and White Gold parks.
One of Whistler’s most exciting year-round adventures is offered by Ziptrek Ecotours (tel. 866/935-0001 or 604/935-0001; www.ziptrek.com). On guided 3-hour tours, you’re taken through Whistler’s ancient temperate rainforest on a network of up to 10 zipline rides joined by canopy bridges, boardwalks, and trails. Along the way, you’re harnessed into a safety contraption that lets you whiz out on cables suspended hundreds of feet above glacier-fed Fitzsimmons Creek. It sounds hair-raising, but it’s completely safe for all ages and abilities, and you’ll never forget the experience. Tours cost C$89 to C$119 adults, C$79 to C$99 for seniors 65 and older and children 14 and under.
Activities for Kids
Whistler Village and the Upper Village sponsor daily activities for kids of all ages near the base of the mountains. Mountain-bike races; an in-line skating park; trapeze, trampoline, and wall-climbing lessons; summer skiing; snowboarding; snowshoeing; bungee jumping; and a first-run multiplex movie theater are just a few of the options.
Based at Blackcomb Mountain, the Dave Murray Summer Ski and Snowboard Camp (tel. 604/902-2600; www.skiandsnowboard.com) is North America’s longest-running summer ski camp. Junior programs cost C$2,300 for 8 days or C$1,250 for a 5-day package; both are available from mid-June to mid-July. Packages include food, lodging (day-camp packages without the hotel are also available), lift passes, and tennis, trapeze, and mountain biking options. Days are spent skiing, boarding, or free-riding on the excellent terrain parks and half-pipes. Camps accommodate a range of abilities, from beginners to champion-level skiers and riders; the age group is 7 to 18 years. The comprehensive instruction and adult supervision at this activity-oriented camp are excellent.
Dog Sledding -- Explore the old-growth forests of the Soo Valley Wildlife Preserve while mushing a team of eager Huskies. Soo Valley Quest offers a choice of dog-sledding trips, and if the weather and terrain permit, you may even get to drive the dogs yourself. A 2 1/2-hour Woof Pack tour costs C$280 for two people sharing a sled; book through the central booking agency tel. 888/403-4727; www.whistlerblackcomb.com.
Ice Climbing -- Climb a frozen waterfall with Coast Mountain Guides (tel. 604/932-7711; www.coastmountainguides.com). Guides provide all equipment; beginners welcome. Climbs start at C$347 per person.
Sleigh Riding -- For a horse-drawn sleigh ride, contact Blackcomb Horsedrawn Sleigh Rides (tel. 604/932-7631; www.blackcombsleighrides.com). In winter, tours go out every evening from the base of Blackcomb Mountain and cost C$65 adults, C$39 children 3 to 12, free for children 2 and under. Other options include daylight, romantic, and dinner sleigh rides.
Snowmobiling -- The year-round ATV/snowmobile tours offered by Canadian Snowmobile Adventures Ltd., Carleton Lodge (tel. 604/938-1616; www.canadiansnowmobile.com), are a unique way to take to the Whistler Mountain trails. Exploring the Fitzsimmons Creek watershed, a 2-hour tour costs C$125 for a driver and C$99 for a passenger. If you're up for more adventure, consider a nighttime snowmobile tour to a remote mountain cabin, where a fondue dinner awaits, for C$225 driver, C$189 passenger.
Snowshoeing -- Snowshoeing is the world's easiest and most enivronmentally friendly form of snow-commotion; it requires none of the training and motor skills of skiing or boarding, and it's quiet, so it truly lets you appreciate nature. You can wear your own shoes or boots, provided they're warm and waterproof, strap on your snowhoes, and off you go. One of the best rental and trail companies is Lost Lake Cross Country Connection (tel. 604/905-0071; www.crosscountryconnection.ca). Whistler Olympic Park (tel. 877/764-2455 or 604/964-0060; www.whistlerolympicpark.com) in the Callaghan Valley also maintains snowshoeing trails and rents equipment. A day pass costs C$10 to C$14 and renting a piar of snowshoes costs C$22.