It’s a testament to Whistler, and the people who have long called this place home, that the town dreamt up as the ultimate winter playground is now just as busy in the summertime. Whistler was born of dreams in fresh powder. Today’s reality is a summer chock full of adventure fun. Read on to see what there is to do when the snow starts to melt and the sun begins to shine.
This is a must-do experience for everyone who visits Whistler in the summer. The River of Golden Dreams meanders from Alta Lake to Green Lake, alongside wetlands and past beaver dens. It’s roughly five kilometres of twists and turns so you have to bring your “A Game” to the water. You can navigate the river via canoe, kayak, paddle board or inner-tube. Check out Backroads Whistler, Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA) or The Adventure Group (TAG) for rentals and guided tours.
Once you get on the chairlift or gondola in the summer, you soon realize what it means to be trying your hand at the biggest bike park in the world. The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is extraordinary, to say the least. That said, being the biggest also means this park has something for everyone from the beginner (Easy Does It) to the intermediate (Crank It Up) to the advanced (A-Line) to the next level entirely (Crazy Train). A one-stop shop in the Village will get you kitted out from helmeted head to toe, with all the knee and elbow pads in between. If you’re not going to ride it yourself, settle in at the base and watch the scene unfold. It’s something to behold. Tickets at whistlerblackcomb.com
With four championship golf courses in the area, Whistler is a golfer’s paradise. There’s the Arnold Palmer-designed Whistler Golf Club, the uphill flow of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Nicklaus North Golf Course and the aptly-named Big Sky Golf Club in Pemberton. All four courses are named in SCORE golf’s Best Public Courses in Canada for 2021, a list which ranks the top 59 public courses across the country. Make your tee time and see why these courses make the grade.
As the snow starts to melt after the long winter season, Whistler’s black bears begin to shake off their long winter’s hibernation and re-emerge from their winter dens. No matter how many times you come across a bear, whether it’s at the side of the road or lumbering across the Valley Trail or spotted from the gondola, you can’t help but stare. Your best chance of spotting one, and learning more about these majestic animals, is through a bear-viewing tour on a 4×4 jeep. You may even spot some cubs if you’re lucky. Learn more at whistler.com and always follow Bear Smart rules.
While the Audain Art Museum is open year-round, this summer is your chance to see Wolves: The Art of Dempsey Bob. The special exhibit runs April 2 – August 14, the first-ever retrospective of this British Columbian First Nations carver’s career. Wolves features a selection of masks, panels, wall sculptures, vessels and regalia as well as Bob’s work in bronze casting, goldsmithing, printmaking and vestment production. This exhibit is yet one more reason to visit the Audain Art Museum.
Do you think you can work up the courage to jump off a 50-metre bridge over the Cheakamus River? Whistler Bungee is the ultimate adventure to level the playing field. Do you think you have the courage? If it helps at all in making a decision, Whistler Bungee has a perfect safety record! Check out whistlerbungee.com.
Don’t just dip your toes! Even though Whistler’s lakes may be chilly,there’s nothing quite as refreshing as taking a dip on a hot summer’s day. There are five lakes in the valley, each with something unique to recommend it. Whistler’s amazing Valley Trail network—45 kilometres of paved trail for biking or walking—will take you to every lake. And if you think the lakes aren’t cold enough, try to fully submerge in the cold plunges at the Scandinave Spa. They say the hot/cold experience is good for the body… if you can work up the nerve. Check out scandinave.com
Whistler ups its adventure playground to new heights with heli-tours. While heliskiing has a long history in this area, summer heli-exploring is getting bigger and better every year. Gone are the days of only considering a sightseeing helicopter tour for the bird’s eye view of the Coast Mountains. Now helicopters are just one part of the adventure. Consider heli hiking, heli golf, heli fishing, heli ice-cave tours, heli yoga. Or even a heli picnic and paddleboard, where you are whisked off to a remote backcountry lake that will be yours to explore. Enjoy a gourmet lunch at the water’s edge. It’s one more way to experience B.C.’s magnificent backcountry.
In 1972 a deadly avalanche on Whistler Mountain claimed the lives of four Vancouver skiers. The accident happened in Harmony Bowl during an early April snowstorm and rescue efforts were hampered by the weather and inexperience of the volunteers who turned up to help out. In the wake of that tragedy, five local community members—Dave Cathers, Cliff Jennings, Stefan Ples, Trudy Salmhofer and Paul Burrows—came together to create the Whistler Search & Rescue Society (WSAR). “(That accident) was a huge turning point in the Whistler community,” says WSAR manager Brad Sills, adding that today’s avalanche program also grew out of that incident. For the last 50 years WSAR has been a critical part of the community, responding to calls for help in the backcountry every year, summer and winter. Lost hikers, missing skiers, injured mountain bikers—WSAR rallies to the call every time. Last year, the volunteer organization responded to 83 calls for help. There are 27 team members with 14 members in training. WSAR’s budget last year was $320,000, two-thirds of which is from donations and fundraising, the remaining third from government funding.
Take the gondola to the alpine and spend the day exploring Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Nothing beats the view from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola as it travels between the mountains. But sightseeing is just one part of the adventure. Discover the hiking trails which are particularly stunning when the alpine flowers are in bloom. Then, take a deep breath and step onto the Cloudraker Skybridge suspension bridge to really get the heart pumping! Top off the day with a much-deserved drink at the Umbrella Bar at the Roundhouse Lodge. To learn more and to plan your day, go to whistlerblackcomb.com.
It doesn’t matter how you decide to spend your time here—zip lining, white water rafting, mountain biking, soaking in the decadent delights of the spa or simply enjoying the scenery. There are so many ways to have fun and get into nature. Check out whistler.com and GuidedBy.ca/Visit-Whistler for ideas and to book activities.
Whistler’s eclectic events calendar is starting to fill up once again! This summer sees the return of some long-running staples in the Whistler events lineup after a challenging two-year hiatus. There’s a little something for everyone in the festival lineup this year from the Whistler Children’s Festival, May 20-29, to the Whistler Village Beer Festival, Sept. 13-18. Don’t miss out on the Canada Day celebrations, July 1-3. And don’t forget the fall lineup too with the Whistler Writers Festival Oct. 13-16. For the full event calendar check out whistler.com and remember … there is always something happening in Whistler.
Explore the backcountry on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) tour. There are tours for all ability levels from beginner to more experienced. You can choose to stick to mountain trails with open roads or take it to the next level with a high alpine adventure, climbing high into the mountains for an unbeatable view. ATV tours are one more way to experience the natural beauty of the Sea to Sky region and a great adventure in the rain or sunshine. Check out canadianwilderness.com for more options.
GuidedBy is a community builder and part of the Glacier Media news network. This article originally appeared on a Glacier Media publication.