Welcome to Sea to Sky Country
Whistler is best known as a wintertime destination, renowned for its skiing and snowboarding and as the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. That fact is impossible to dispute, as it consistently ranks as North America’s top-ranked winter resort. But for decades, the consensus among many locals was that summer was their favourite time of year; and when you look at the opportunities for outdoor recreation — in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, on the resort community’s world-class trail network, along the lakes, in the coastal rainforest and in the alpine — that’s not at all surprising.
In fact, the entire Sea to Sky Corridor — from climbing the Stawamus Chief in the south to paragliding over the impressive Pemberton Valley to the north — is a magnet for adrenaline junkies, particularly in the summer. Where else, after all, can you get big hits in the bike park, kiteboard at the head of a fjord and go bungee jumping or fly over the forest on one of the world’s longest ziplines, all in the same day? From golf to outdoor summertime concerts to people watching in the Village to relaxing with friends and family on the patio, not to mention the world-class dining and vibrant arts scene, more and more visitors are learning that there is as much to love about Whistler in the summer as there is after the snow flies.
Historically, the Whistler Valley was prime hunting and berry-picking territory for the Squamish and Lil’wat peoples, long before the first European fur trappers, loggers and miners arrived. The first vestiges of a “resort” began in 1914, when Myrtle and Alex Philip bought 10 acres on the shore of Alta Lake and opened Rainbow Lodge — a summertime fishing establishment that quickly caught on with visitors from across Canada. It was not until after Franz Wilhelmsen and his team of Vancouver associates arrived in 1960 that the idea of a ski resort surfaced. Spurred on by the success of the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., Wilhelmsen and his colleagues envisioned the new ski venue as the host community for the 1968 Games — a vision that didn’t come to fruition until 2003, when Vancouver was chosen to host the 2010 Games, with Whistler hosting the sliding and most of the mountain events.
Summertime resort guests can take selfies next to the Olympic rings and read about all the medals awarded in Whistler at Whistler Olympic Plaza, which hosts an outdoor summer concert series and other cultural and sporting events. At the Whistler Sliding Centre, you can experience the “Rolling Thunder” of the world’s fastest track on a wheeled rollersled; and at Whistler Olympic Park, you can go hiking or mountain biking on the trails, or try shooting a biathlon rifle in the range that hosted the Nordic events in 2010.
Art is also a big part of the Whistler resort experience. In 2016, the Audain Museum, an impressive, 56,000-squarefoot gallery, opened its doors, featuring works by renowned Canadian artists including Emily Carr and E.J. Hughes as well as a fine collection of Northwest Coast First Nations masks. Visitors can also learn about the area’s First Nations peoples at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, and experience many of the fine art galleries throughout the Village that highlight local, Canadian, and internationally renowned artists. Whistler also has a dining experience for every palate and budget, with a vast array of restaurants, pubs, and nightspots to fuel your summertime adventures or quench your thirst. Then there are the world-class spa experiences ... the possibilities are endless.
Clearly, adrenaline junkies aren’t the only people who are attracted to this part of the world, as the spirit of the pioneers lives on in the can-do, adventurous mindset of both long-time locals and visitors alike.
For assistance in planning your trip, visit whistlertraveller.com.