Whistler Village Square, Photo Destination BC, Albert Normandin
Whistler is a resort town, located in the Sea to Sky region of the Coast Mountains. Over two million people visit Whistler annually, primarily for alpine skiing and snow boarding in the Winter. In the Summer, however, mountain biking becomes the sport of choice. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler was the location for most of the snow based events. The region is known for a very humid climate, with cold, wet winters, followed by warm, dry summers.
The natural beauty of the region is easy to see in the numerous natural formations in the surrounding area. Whistler frequently ranks as the number one ski resort in North American, and with more than 200 marked trails, the longest snow season in Canada, and more than 8,100 acres of snow-covered slopes, its easy to see why. While the primary draw is the skiing and snowboarding, all manner of outdoor recreation is vibrant here, from sled-riding to snowshoeing.
The heart of the community is Whistler village, located at the base of the lifts. A vibrant, pedestrian-only village with unique, west-coast architecture, surrounded by rugged mountains. Specialty shops, hotels, and eateries are open here year-round. Also found here is the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, which showcases and celebrates the joint history of the local Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations. The area is also 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 ski evenings, a pool party and a snowball dance.
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, it 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.
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. The previous name for the region was Alta Lake.
In 1914 the Great Pacific Eastern Railway was extended to Alta Lake and the community became a base for logging and mining. Lodges built up throughout the valley and the abundance of fish in the lakes made the area a summer destination resort long before it became a winter resort.
The ski area started to develop in the 1960s when a road was extended there from Squamish. 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.