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Home / Vancouver Coast and Mountains / Sea to Sky Country / Whistler

Whistler

History

Whistler got its name from the trappers and prospectors who settled in the area in the early 1900s and who were intrigued by the shrill whistle made by the western hoary marmots that lived among the rocks. Prior to being named Whistler the area was called Alta Lake.

In 1914 the Great Pacific Eastern Railway was built to Alta Lake and Whistler became a base for logging and mining. Lodges built up throughout the valley and the abundance of fish in the lakes made Whistler a summer destination resort long before it became a winter resort.

The ski area started to develop in the 1960s and a road was extended to Whistler from Squamish and later that year on to Pemberton.

In 1965 Whistler Mountain was named Garibaldi Whistler Mountain. A four-person gondola, double chairlift, two T-bars, and a day lodge were built. In 1966 Whistler officially opened for skiing.

The town centre was started in 1978 which is now Whistler Village and Blackcomb Mountain was opened in 1980, creating one of the largest ski complexes in North America.

Today, Whistler is consistently rated as the number one ski resort in North America.

Location

Whistler is 123 km (76 mi) north of Vancouver via Trans Canada Highway 1 and Highway 99 - the scenic Sea to Sky Highway. From the north-east of BC, Whistler is reached via Highway 99 south-west from Lillooet and through Pemberton. A frequent daily direct shuttle bus service is available from Vancouver Airport (YVR) and Downtown Vancouver via Pacific Coach Lines. A daily return service is also available.

Things to See & Do
  • Whistler Village

Whistler Village is the heart of Whistler and located at the base of the lifts. A vibrant pedestrian-only village with unique west-coast architecture and surrounded by rugged mountains. Specialty shops, hotels and places to eat are open year-round.

  • Squamish Lil-wat Cultural Centre

The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre showcases and celebrates the joint history of the local Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations, past and present, by offering a unique glimpse into their histories, creative works and cultures.

  • Brandywine Falls

Located 16 km (10 mi) south of Whistler on Highway 99, it is an easy 10-minute walk to the spectacular 66 metre (215 feet) Brandywine Falls. A viewing platform perched on the edge of the volcanic escarpment and a picnic area provide for an enjoyable day out and stunning views of Daisy Lake and Black Tusk.

  • Skiing & Snowboarding

With more than 200 marked trails, the longest ski season in Canada, and more than 8,100 acres of snow-covered slopes, it's easy to see why Whistler frequently ranks as the number one ski resort in North America. It also has the greatest vertical rise of any mountains in North America, and one of the most advanced high-speed lift systems in the world. Whistler - Snow Tubing in the Coca-Cola Tube Park - Randy Lincks

  • Peak 2 Peak

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is an engineering marvel that links Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains together at their peaks. Boasting the longest unsupported lift span in the world (3.024 km or 1.88 mi), it is also the highest lift of its kind with an elevation of 436 metres (1,427 feet). Foot passengers may board the gondola to gain an entirely new perspective on sightseeing from 6,000 feet.

  • Snowmobiling & Dog Sledding

Snowmobiling is fun for all ages and abilities. Professional tour guides take you through backcountry areas, along hidden snow-covered trails, and into beautiful winter landscapes. Choose from early morning fresh tracks tours or daytime and evening dinner excursions complete with a gourmet meal served in a private, backcountry yurt. Tours are designed for beginner to experienced riders.

Dog sledding originated approximately 4,000 years ago. The Arctic dogs have been bred over centuries to withstand cold temperatures and endure pulling sleds over distances of up to 130 km (80 mi) a day and reaching speeds of up to 32 kmph (20 mph). Sledding is fun for the whole family.

  • Snowshoeing, Skating & Sleigh Rides

Whistler is the ideal setting for snowshoeing. Rent your own and take a self-guided tour around Green Lake or let a guide take you on a nature tour through unforgettable and beautiful wilderness.

Each winter part of the Whistler Olympic Plaza is transformed into skating rinks. These outdoor rinks are festooned with festive lights and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. For skating on local lakes the best spots include Green Lake and Alta Lake.

Can there be anything more romantic than a sleigh ride through Whistler's magical winter wonderland? Gentle, giant Percheron horses lead the way, and cozy blankets and hot chocolate keep you warm.  

  • Aerial Sightseeing

Aerial sightseeing is one of Whistler's most spectacular and magical experiences. Summer floatplane tours leave every day and qualified, experienced pilots know just where to take you to see the amazing vistas. You'll see every mountain range, glaciers, valleys, rivers and lakes and have a better understanding of this stunning landscape.  

  • Biking

With trails to suit both mountain bikers and recreational cyclists you can get your pulse racing as you make your way through rocky, twisting singletrack in the Whistler valley. Feel like a kid again as you pedal along paved pathways. If you're a high-flying gravity seeker, test your bike-handling skills at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

  • Hiking & Walking

Covered by snow in winter, ski trails on Whistler Mountain become superb hiking trails in summer. Take in the colours, breathtaking views, and fresh mountain air as you hike past fields laced with brilliant alpine flowers. You can access the high alpine wih a short gondola ride or go even higher, right to the top of Whistler Mountain, on the Peak Chair. Or stay in Whistler's valley and saunter along hiking trails that meander up mountains, through forests, and past crystal-clear lakes. 

  • Golfing

Four stunning golf courses grace the hills and valleys surrounding Whistler. All were designed by pre-eminent architects in the golfing world - Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Bob Cupp and Robert Trent Jones Jr. These 18-hole courses provide for some challenging rounds of golf amid snow-capped mountains, lakes, waterfalls and often shared with the area's wildlife. For the avid golfer check out Big Sky Golf Club, Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club, Whistler Golf Club and Nicklaus North Golf Course.

  • Whistler Pride & Ski Festival

Whistler is host to an annual 8-day event that brings over 3,000 people from countries around the world. The event includes a significant skiing and snow activity program, followed by apres ski evenings, pool party and a snowball dance.

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    Contact Information

    Whistler Visitor Centre
    Web: www.tourismwhistler.com  

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    Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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