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Dog sledding, ice cave exploring and glamping in the snow – Whistler isn’t just about skiing, you know
If you’re a skiier, then you certainly would have heard of Whistler, if you haven’t already traversed its sensational slopes or, at the very least, fantasised about it. Located in the spectacular Coast Mountains of Canada’s British Columbia, Whistler is widely considered the number one ski resort in the world thanks to its sensational terrain, sophisticated mountain lifestyle and long list of activities suitable for both soft and hard-adventure junkies alike.
Located just a scenic two-hour drive or short helicopter flight north of Vancouver, Whistler has over 200 runs and receives an average of 11.7 meters of coastal snow each year across its 8171 acres of alpine terrain, making it a mecca for skiiers.
But what if you’re not a skiier? Lucky for you, Whistler is also known for its luxurious boutique lodges, spas, shops and art galleries, all of which cater to those who prefer to relax and unwind, and the charming pedestrian-only village provides endless opportunities for sumptuous meals at award-winning restaurants, late-night fireside chats and gentle strolls through the twinkling lights and snow-covered streets.
Not to mention, skiing isn’t the only activity you can do in the snow. From breathtaking helicopter sightseeing trips to hidden ice caves, remote glacier snowmobile tours and bobsleigh rides, here are some of our favourite winter activities to dive into in Whistler. Don’t forget your thermals.
For the kind of Canadian winter experience that will spark your inner child, embark on 3-hour dog sledding journey through the magnificent old growth forest of the Callaghan Valley. To start, a professional musher (dog sled driver) will harness and stage a team of dogs for you, before you learn the commands and get to take over the driving of your own canine team. You’ll get to experience a mix of open and tighter, winding trails for an unforgettable winter journey, not to mention the photo opportunities are priceless.
Heli Hot Springs
Is there anything more serene than a dip in scenic hot springs while surrounded by picturesque falling snow? On this heli hot springs adventure you’ll take off from Whistler in an A-star helicopter and fly over Canada’s largest, southernmost ice cap. You’ll soar through hanging valleys, remote fjords and cascading waterfalls thousands of feet tall and witness an evolving world of ice and snow in a glorious ice cave, before landing just a short hike away from a natural hot spring. As if the warmth of the thermal pools wasn’t enough, you’ll also have a view of an emerald green river meandering in front of you, and a mountain lunch will be provided riverside before you fly back to Whistler. For a spa-like experience in a remote mountain setting, we think this wilderness adventure is hard to beat.
Ever been on a snowmobile? Now’s your chance, in one of the world’s most spectacular winter settings. After gearing up at Whistler Heliport base, you’ll board the helicopter for a spectacular flight to an exclusive “Heli-Dome” located on the Ice Cap – a vast terrain that has to be seen to be believed, its ice flows, volcanic peaks and wildlife creating an other-worldly experience. A professional mountain guide will then lead you on a state-of-the-art mountain snowmobile on an expedition across various terrains from 8,000 foot ice fields and mountain tops and through a complex, labyrinthine network of secret, 15,000 year-old ice caves. It’s in these aqua blue chambers that you’ll get to indulge in a mountain-style artisan lunch. An unforgettable experience you’ll want to share, so gather a group of friends or take the whole family.
Backcountry Ski Tour
This one’s for the adrenaline junkies. Backcountry skiing/snowboarding takes place outside of the ski resort boundaries, so skiers can get a taste of Whistler and Blackcomb’s vast untracked backcountry that stretches to the horizon in every direction. You’ll get to skip the line-ups, chairlifts and trail markers and then ski at your own pace, all the while taking in the awe-inspiring Coast Mountains on a full day of mind-blowing backcountry skiing, telemarking or snowboarding.
ACMG Guides will share techniques and tactics to hone your skiing, boost your safety knowledge, and heighten your awareness in big mountain terrain, but you will need touring skis or splitboard, skins and avalanche safety gear to participate (all of which you can also rent). A word of warning, though: this experience is for intermediate to advanced skiers.
How about breakfast with a view to round our your Whistler adventure? On this quirky experience, snowmobile riders make their way through the remote backcountry of the Callaghan Valley to a rustic cabin on Sproatt Mountain, where they will dig into a full Canadian Yukon breakfast. Cooked on an old fashioned wood stove, this skillet style mountain feast includes Canadian back bacon, Yukon gold potatoes, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, sautéed onions and bell peppers along with pancakes, real maple syrup and cowboy coffee. Skip the dessert, though – there’s a frozen lake and magnificent alpine surrounds waiting to be explored.
Winter Glamping in a Snow Fortress
This winter glamping experience is probably as close to realising a winter wonderland fantasy as you’re ever likely to get. Snow bunnies can spend the night in a ‘snow fortress’ that has been decked out in stylish winter comfort and tailored to a layout of your choosing.
Spend the evening looking deep into space through a telescope, and relish being in a destination as beautiful as it is rare and unique. Every aspect of this once-in-a-lifetime experience can be tailored to your own desires, from creating custom ice bars, projection mapping and branded ice sculptures, to arranging expert fire-side Indigenous story tellers, ice cave explorations, glacier walks, astronomy sessions and yoga classes.