Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but Whistler, British Columbia, may not be far behind if you are an outdoor enthusiast. Year-round outdoor activities, a pedestrian-only village with shops, restaurants and abundant options for lodging make Whistler a Disney-like destination for everyone.
“Located in the spectacular Coast Mountains of British Columbia just two hours north of Vancouver, Whistler is Canada’s favorite year-round destination,” said Bree Eagles, Coordinator, Travel Media for Whistler Tourism. “There are two majestic mountains with a vibrant base village, and every season has a range of possibilities for outdoor enthusiasts, including epic skiing and snowboarding, four championship golf courses, hiking, cycling and running trails, and arguably the best mountain bike park in the world.”
In addition to non-competitive activities at Whistler, the trail running, mountain biking, cycling, Ironman competition and other races enhance Whistler’s attractiveness as a destination for competitive athletes.
The Whistler Half Marathon on June 1, 2019, offers something for everyone, including four-legged furry friends. The weekend slate of races features the Half Marathon, 30K, 10K, 5K, Kids Run, Dog Run, Recoverun (a coached restorative run on trails), along with non-competitive “Choose Your Adventure” guided trail runs. All of the courses start and end in Olympic Plaza so finishers of all abilities can feel like Olympians as they complete their event. The World’s Trail Running Film Festival also takes place in conjunction with the weekend of running and features a collection of international running films.
Later in the summer, Ironman Canada and Ironman Canada 70.3 (Half Ironman) comes to Whistler. On July 28, 2019, swimmers dive into Alta Lake steps away from Whistler Village to begin their respective race. The full Ironman bike course takes participants on a three-loop ride through Whistler Valley with an elevation gain of 2,579 meters. The marathon portion includes two loops on the Valley Trail past Lost Lake and Green Lake with a run through the Olympic Village before starting the second loop.
The corridor between Vancouver, British Columbia and Whistler is known as “Sea to Sky,” and is the venue for the epic RBC GranFondo Whistler. On Saturday, September 7, 2019, cyclists will start in the lush forest of Stanley Park in Vancouver, cross the Lions Gate Bridge and ride 76 miles from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to rugged inland mountains where they cross the finish at Whistler Village. Participants can also choose a more ambitious route, The Forte, a 97 mile ride that includes a climb up Cypress Mountain before heading out the Sea To Sky Highway to Whistler. For those with less saddle experience, the Medio is a great 34 mile loop option that starts and finishes in Whistler Village.
“The cycling culture is very prominent in the area, making it a motivating and fun environment to ride in,” said Tennessee Mayer, of Liv Vancouver, an independently owned store in Vancouver dedicated to increasing female participation in sports. “As for Whistler, for one, it’s easy to get to by bike along the Sea To Sky highway (although a big ride) and provides stunning views of the local mountain ranges. It’s a challenging ride with the elevation gain, but well worth it.”
The Sea-To-Sky Trail from Squamish in the south to D’Arcy in the north, links the Pacific Ocean to the snow capped Coast Mountains. It runs through Whistler and is a multi-use trail for year-round activities.
“You could ride it with a mountain bike but it’s a little more interesting on a cross bike, especially when taking into account the few paved sections,” Tennessee said. “It has wonderful views all along and allows one to link up two beautiful towns, truly a great challenge on the way to Whistler with some significant elevation gain.”
In Whistler itself, the mountain biking options are endless. Once the snow melts, skis are traded for knobby tires and the ski runs become a mountain biker’s dream. The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is a lift-accessed downhill adrenaline zone complete with 70 trails over four areas. Much like winter ski options, there are trails for all ability levels on the bike.
Additionally, easily accessed gravel trails and paved paths throughout Whistler Valley offer family fun on two wheels (or three!) and epic scenery.
Whistler has continued to expand its offerings with the 2019 opening of their 10-person Blackcomb Gondola for a more efficient and weather-protected ride for skiers, snowboarders and sightseers. The addition of the gondola creates a three-gondola connection between the Village, Peak 2 Peak and the Upper Village on Blackcomb.
During the summer of 2018, Whistler Mountain also debuted the 130 meter Cloudraker Sky Bridge, offering a “thrilling experience and 360-degree sightline of the surrounding Coast Mountains,” said Eagles.
When visitors get tired of running, biking, skiing, racing, hiking or golfing, Whistler Village has dining options across the culinary spectrum and plenty of watering holes for beverages.
Whistler and neighboring peak and resort, Blackcomb, are located approximately two hours north of Vancouver. There are regular shuttles from Vancouver International Airport to Whistler.
“Regardless of whether you prefer to chase the snow, sun, or the seasons in between, Whistler is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground at any time of year,” said Eagles.