The Benefits of Staying Around for the Spring
‘Is there still snow?’ and ‘Can you ski?’, are usually the first questions we get about Whistler in the spring. Understandable given the more than 200 marked trails, 3 glaciers and over 8100 acres of snow covered terrain that surround Whistler Village. And you’ll be excited to hear that Whistler is one of the few resorts that maintains a good 3 metres right through spring, so you can ski in Whistler until the end of May.
While we definitely agree that skiing and/or snowboarding should be on your shoulder season to-do list, there are also a whole host of other exciting options that open up in Whistler as the spring thaw begins. So don’t even think about leaving yet!
Early season Spring hikes
Spring temperatures in Whistler range between 36 degrees, at its coldest, up to the high sixties in May, which makes this mild season perfect for early hikes. Before you set off on a hike, we recommend stopping by the Whistler Visitor Centre which is staffed by passionate hikers who know the area inside out. They can give you up to date information about which trails are open and suggest a hike that fits your needs. Once the snow is gone, we love the trail through the interpretive forest and Cheakamus river. The three hour loop out to the suspension bridge is popular and a great hike to ease you into the season.
If you’re looking for an easy going walk, try the Valley Trail, a pedestrian paved path and boardwalk that meanders through all of Whistler’s neighbourhoods. The trail is open all year round, but is particularly lovely in the spring with the new leaves and blossoms. There are over 40 kilometres of clearly marked paths that are safe for walking, running and even roller blading. Dogs welcome!
Besides winter sports, Whistler is also one of Canada’s best golfing destinations. There are four championship golf courses within easy reach of Whistler Village. Each of the four courses has been designed by some of the world’s best golfers including Nicklaus North Golf Course designed by Jack Nicklaus and Whistler Golf Club designed by Arnold Palmer. And you’d be hard pushed to find golf courses with more beautiful views- surrounded by mountains and pine forests.
Canoe, Kayak and Paddleboarding on the River of Golden Dreams
If you’re looking for something adventurous that also allows you to learn more about Whistler’s native flora and fauna, we couldn’t recommend canoeing or kayaking down the River of Golden Dreams more. Book at 3 hour canoe or kayak trip with one of the knowledgeable guides from Whistler Eco Tours where you can choose between a canoe, a single or a double kayak. Or if you prefer an unguided tour, you can rent a boat from Backroads Whistler. Both options will allow you to discover the River of Golden Dreams as well as beautiful Alta Lake, which is also a great place to rent paddle boards, if you want a more chilled water sport.
Family and Group Activities
Whilst staying and living in Whistler, you will probably have family and friends who come and visit you. Of course you’ll want to take them to Cows for ice cream and Merlin’s for beer and nachos, but, if you want them to have a really memorable visit, add ziplining through mountain valleys to your list.
We like Super Fly and Ziptrek Ecotours who both offer mind- blowing zipline experiences through forest canopy and down into mountain valleys. Superfly has tandem ziplines so that you can share your experience with a friend or family member, as well as a Treetop adventure- a fun obstacle course through treetops with 70 different challenges including rope swings and balance beams. Whereas Ziptrek Ecotours boasts The Sasquatch, the longest zipline in Canada and the US! Their epic zipline covers 2 kilometres with awesome views and over an hour’s worth of ziplining fun.
Forged Axe is a Whistler institution and, as they say, one of Whistler’s ‘favourite things to do!’ For a group and family activity that really captures the Whistler spirit, axe throwing is a no brainer. At Forged Axe you can book an hour session in a shared lane or private lane, or, if you want to really hone your swing, you can book a two and a half hour party for between 21 and 60 people. And if you think you’ll get bored with just axe throwing…. think again. There are axe throwing tournaments, competitions, trick shots and a bullseye derby to sharpen your skills.
Dog sledding is an incredible way to discover the forest and landscape surrounding Whistler. The experience of sledding with a team of professional dogs is unforgettable and an excellent way to see some Canadian wildlife and more remote areas. Canadian Wilderness organise dog sledding trips through Callaghan Valley, south west of Whistler towards Brandywine Mountain. The valley was home to the 2010 Whistler Olympic Park and is one of the best places to see ancient forests and Totem Lake. A dog sledding experience lasts about three hours and you can choose between one person in a sled, two people in a sled and two people and a small child in a sled.
Whistler’s surrounding forest is home to around one hundred black bears, making it one of the best places in Canada to bear watch. As the weather gets warmer, the local bear community starts to reappear in the forest and often, even closer to civilisation. In fact, one of the best places to spot bears is down on the Whistler golf courses because the bears are drawn to the dandelions that bloom around the courses in the spring.
For more bear spotting, it’s also worth renting or borrowing a mountain bike and heading out to the Mountain Bike Park for a few laps, as there are often bear sightings around that area. Or head out to the lower mountain biking trails, which have already started thawing and turning green with new leaves. We recommend the trails around Alpine or even down in Squamish.
Plus, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for furry foragers when you’re up on Blackcomb Mountain, you may be lucky enough to see a bear from your gondola on your way up or down. Finally, if you want a sure thing, then you can book a bear viewing tour with a qualified guide at Whistler Discovery Tours.
And don’t forget to be Bear Smart, not just when out looking to spot bears but at all times during your stay in Whistler.
Special Spring Events
World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF), April 10-14 2019
It’s too late for this year, but if you’re planning on coming for a longer term stay in Whistler then you should put the 2020 World Ski and Snowboard Festival in your calendar now. WSSF regularly attracts some of the world’s best ski and snowboard athletes competing in amazing events right in the centre of Whistler Village. The event, similar to Go Fest below, takes over the town creating a party atmosphere for the whole four days with incredible sports, art showcases, live music and DJs.
Some WSSF highlights are: the Mums’ (and Friends) Mountain Classic opening event, which is open to skiing and snowboarding Mums, Step-Mums and, of course, Grand-Mums; the Ski and Snowboard Big Air event, which draws some of the sport’s top competitors tackling a huge jump at the base of Whistler Mountain and, of course, the Saudan Couloir Race Extreme, which is considered the world’s steepest ski race.
Go Fest, May 17-20 May 2019
Go Fest or Great Outdoor Festival is one of the absolute highlights of the year in Whistler. For four days, over the Victoria Day long weekend towards the end of May, the whole town is filled with events and a huge range of fun outdoor activities for every age. The activities are grouped into four categories- art, music, sports, and education. Pretty much every activity that we’ve recommended above will be happening at the festival from paddle boarding, canoeing, axe throwing, golfing, cycling, as well as skateboarding, yoga and scavenger hunts. There are classes and workshops throughout the town so that you can jump in and learn about everything from mountain skills to DJing, and, to top it all off, there is always an excellent series of live concerts featuring lots of Canadian artists.
This is Go Fest’s sixth year and their aiming to run the whole festival as zero waste this time round, which is a great goal and fits with the fun, community ethos of the whole event. The schedule of events and activities will be up on the official website soon, so check back soon!
To book your accommodation for this Summer season in Whistler, have a look through our long term rental properties. For more information about Whistler, check out our locals guide full of practical tips and recommendations for where to go in Whistler Village. And if you’re looking even further ahead, then we also have a great guide to fun events in Whistler in the fall.