Whistler Recreation Amps Up for Summer

The British Columbia hotspot is more than a ski town.

By Virginia Smyth June 6, 2017


This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Seattle Magazine.

The wildflowers were in bloom and the sky a crystal blue on a summer day last year on Blackcomb Mountain, part of the Whistler Blackcomb resort. We’d just finished hiking through a challenging field of boulders. Back on a level trail, we caught up with another hiker, who was pointing to the meadow above the trail. Grazing serenely among the wildflowers was a Big. Black. Bear. He didn’t seem to notice us—but we sure did notice him. For the next 15 minutes as we continued on the trail, talking loudly (you’re supposed to make noise when a bear is around, right?), he ambled slowly along on a parallel track, munching his way through the meadow. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we finally parted ways, the bear heading in one direction, our trail in another.

Image Credit: Michael Allen 
Watch for black bears while hiking

Bear encounters are just one of the thrills of a summer sojourn to Whistler. Book a bear-watching tour, or just take to the trails. A summer sightseeing ticket lets you ride the Village Gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain, giving you access to alpine trails. Both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are open to hikers, and getting between them is easy on the spectacular Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Plan your visit on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday so you can end the day with a high-altitude barbecue dinner at Whistler’s Roundhouse Lodge. For a different experience, the new 3.5-mile Blackcomb Ascent Trails (phase one opened last year; phase two is scheduled to open this summer) start near the Blackcomb base area and climb around 4,000 feet taking hikers through impressive old-growth rain forest. 


Of course, not everyone comes to Whistler for hiking. Play a few rounds on one of four golf courses, jump in a lake (there are five in the area), rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, or cycle or walk on the paved Valley Trail (25 miles). Thrill seekers can book a bobsled-on-wheels ride at the Whistler Sliding Centre, take a treetop zip line tour or go bungee jumping. And, of course, thousands flock to Whistler each year to test their skills on the Whistler Mountain Bike Park trails. 

Whistler has a huge variety of accommodations—from condos to high-end hotels. Start by considering where you want to stay: the main Village area (in the heart of things, but sometimes noisy), the Village North (a short distance from the Village and near Whistler Olympic Plaza, which hosts concerts and events), Upper Village (at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and close to the summer farmers market) or Creekside (a smaller, quieter location about a five-minute drive from the main Village). Explore specific options in these areas at

Image Credit: Andrew Doran
Whistler’s shop-lined Village Stroll

And when it’s time to dine? You could spend a couple of weeks at Whistler and never eat at the same place twice. For casual dining, the MJG Brewhouse offers a wide selection of beer, and standards such as ribs, rotisserie chicken and pizza—and a large outdoor patio. For a special evening out, head to Rimrock Cafe, near Creekside, for exquisitely prepared fish and game. 

Insider Tip: Go off the beaten path to Nita Lake Lodge’s Cure Lounge and Patio ( for happy hour, 3–6 p.m. daily. The large patio, accessible from the Valley Trail, overlooks charming Nita Lake.


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