The resort town of Whistler is about a two hour drive away from Vancouver along one of the most scenic drives you'll ever take, the Sea to Sky Highway. Whistler is most famous as a ski destination—one of the best in the world—and this is thanks to two spectacular mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, that loom a mile above the village and provide over 8000 acres of skiable terrain.
Year-round, Whistler offers visitors fine food, spas, and plenty of opportunity for adventure, all in a breathtaking locale.
Whistler is in the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia, Canada's most westerly province. It is located a two-hour drive north of Vancouver, or four to five hours from Seattle, on the province's west coast.
Weather and Climate
Whistler's ski season is famously long, from the end of Nov. to April on Whistler Mountain and into June on Blackcomb. During the winter, storms off the coast cover the mountains with an average of 30 feet of snow a year. Temperatures don't get too low though, even in Jan/Feb, when temps average around 0ºC, but winds can make this feel much colder.
Spring in Whistler is unpredictable, with weather ranging from cold and wet to overcast to warm and sunny. By May, snow is melting and in June lower elevation hiking/biking trails are open and snow-free. Although you can't count on the weather, you can count on plenty of travel bargains in spring.
July/Aug. is warm; late summer into fall is pleasant with less rain and more stable conditions.
Whistler offers accommodation to suit a variety of visitors, from money-strapped students to travellers who care intensely about thread count. Staying right in Whistler Village tends to expensive as it affords the easiest access to both Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas. Accommodation farther away from the mountains (Creekside and Whistler Valley for example) tend to be less expensive. Other options include staying outside of Whistler in Pemberton, which is a 30 min drive, but a lovely community of its own, or Squamish—a 45 minute drive, but convenient if you're only planning on a day of skiing.
Whistler also has a hostel, offering probably the cheapest accommodation.
There are almost 100 Whistler restaurants, bars and lounges and fine dining options in Whistler. Choose from Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Indian, Mexican, Korean, priced to suit a variety of budgets too.
Before you book, check out the Whistler Blackcomb restaurant site where you can see the latest reviews, restaurant openings, check out menus online and even download coupons.
Skiing at Whistler
Skiing in Whistler means access to two massive mountains: Whistler and Blackcomb (the ski resort is known as Whistler-Blackcomb). At the base of the two mountains is Whistler Village, a highly developed, posh Intrawest development full of restaurants, boutiques and other amenities. Several hotels are located in the village, including Chateau Whistler, a Hilton and a Best Western. Condos both in the village and in the surrounding area are available for rent as well.
There are three main options for getting to Whistler: car, bus, or train. Weight your budget and comfort requirements and choose the option that is right for you.
Travel by Car: The major gateway to Whistler is through the city of Vancouver, 115 kms or 70 miles away. Whistler is a two-hour drive on the portion of Highway 99 known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway. The drive to Whistler is one of the Canada's most scenic drives. However; weather may also result in bad driving conditions, so you may want to have an experienced driver at the wheel. Numerous other options including taxi, bus and even helicopter are available to get you to Whistler.
Another option is to fly into Seattle and drive 4-5 hours to Whistler.
Travel by Bus: Pacific Coach's YVR-Whistler SkyLynx is the only bus transportation company with ticket counters located at the airport. The SkyLynx will also stop at downtown Vancouver hotels.
Snowbus is a relatively inexpensive way to get to Whistler during the ski season from Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver and West Vancouver. Greyhound Canada also offers non-stop seasonal Ski Express between Vancouver and Whistler Village.
Travel by Train: Rocky Mountaineer Vacations offers a classic Canadian train ride from Vancouver to Whistler. The Whistler Mountaineer train ride is three hours of stunning deep valleys, snow-capped mountain peaks, seascapes and mountain views. Upgrade to Glacier Dome Coach class for panoramic views through full length dome windows.
There's always something going on in Whistler, no matter what time of year you visit. Even in the winter, there's so much more to do than just ski or snowboard.
Two of the biggest Whistler festivals: The World Ski & Snowboard Festival bids a celebratory farewell to the ski season with 10 nights of music, arts and sports and Cornucopia—on the other end of the ski season—ushers in winter with a wine and food celebration each November.