Travel north of Vancouver for about two hours along the epic Sea to Sky Highway and you’ll hit Whistler. Famous for its ski slopes that hosted the 2010 Olympics and its summer mountain biking scene, Whistler has more to offer than you could ever imagine. Forested illumination walks, fine dining, overnight hikes featuring sapphire-blue lakes and a jungle gym on the side of the mountain captivated my adventurous curiosity. I spent two nights and three days exploring what Whistler had to offer beyond the typical obligatory Cow’s ice cream pit-stop and photo-opt with the Olympic Rings. I’ll admit it—I was impressed.

 

Vallea Lumina

Vallea Lumina is a multimedia night walk that just launched in Whistler July 18th. The 1.5-km, hour-long trek through the forest is akin to waking in a dream.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Tied together by the story of two hikers lost in the woods, this ranger-inspired night adventure encourages you to use your imagination. But if you can't dream up a mystical land, the stunning light shows will do it for you. Holograms, glowing animals and transient music transport you to another realm, where bears appear in the sky in dazzling colour and trees come alive like a scene from Lord of the Rings. Expect to see the forest in a completely different light (pun intended).

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Note: While this activity is family friendly, there are some steep climbs, stairs and flashing lights. Tours are self-guided and depart every 20 minutes after sundown.

 

Via Ferrata

Hike, climb and scramble up the face of Whistler mountain on this alpine adventure. Using a series of ladders, metal cables and iron rings fused into the rock, Whistler's Via Ferrata is an incredibly unique experience.

photoMatt

Our group of four took the gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain. We were fitted with harnesses and helmets at Mountain Skills Academy and set off on a 40-minute hike. After slipping our way across tinted-pink snow, we arrived at the first set of ladders.

I clipped my carabiner onto the first cable and pulled myself up nervously. I continued to the next ladder, using shelves in the rock to climb when necessary.

photoMatt

Onto the iron rings, from which the activity derives its Italian name, and we were gaining some serious elevation. Dense white clouds folded over the mountain beneath us. My heart pounded; adrenaline spiked. By the time we made it to the summit, I was worn out—but I still wanted to go back and do it all again.

Note: Although it might be tempting to seek out the ladders for yourself, Via Ferrata adventures in Canada must be guided. Our guide, Matt, was an incredible asset on this adventure.

 

Overnight Hike to Garibaldi Lake & Taylor Meadows

Just over the peak of Whistler Mountain lies Garibaldi Provincial Park. The turquoise gem in this wilderness area is Garibaldi Lake, which we decided to hike to and spend the night camping near.

photo

It's an 8-km trek to Taylor Meadows. The trail is mainly packed dirt switchbacks. Although it's not a difficult hike, there is some serious elevation gain. Pair that with 50-odd pounds of overnight gear, and the climb shouldn't be underestimated.

We departed the parking lot around 11 a.m. and arrived at Taylor Meadows by 1:30 p.m. We picked our tent pad, clipped our previously purchased registration proof to the post and unpacked. After a two-hour power nap, the sun had burned through the clouds, so we decided to venture down to the lake for dinner.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

The shores of the lake were breathtakingly clear; the water colour impossibly blue. A half-submerged trail of rocks led us to an island, where we set up our burner and cooked dinner. Whiskey Jacks fluttered around us, hoping for crumbs. We joked with other hikers and brewed tea, stunned to silence by the majestic glacier-filled mountains and jumping trout.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

After a fitfully cold sleep, we descended the trail around 9 a.m. and arrived back at our car by 11 a.m., making this epic journey a full 12-hour trip. Unsurprisingly, we were tired, hungry and badly in need of a long, hot shower. We unlaced our boots and headed home.

Note: New this year, overnight hikers must register for a campsite in advance. While this does not guarantee a spot, it is required to have a copy of the registration payment on you at all times and one hanging at your tent. Find a campsite here.

 

If you go…

Sleep:

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

We stayed in a King Suite at Crystal Lodge & Suites. The location of the hotel is simply unbeatable: all of Whistler Village is at your doorstep. Plus, the outdoor pool and hot tub are ideal for soaking in after an epic adventure.

Eat: 

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

For a romantic dinner, order a charcuterie board at Basalt. If you're looking for a casual pub-setting to dine with friends, try the spicy, tangy burger at Beacon. Both spots offer heated patios, perfect for people-watching.

Drive:

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Chevrolet hooked us up with a 2018 Tahoe to drive from Burnaby to Whistler to the Squamish River to Rubble Creek (Garibaldi Lake trailhead). The parking lot gets extremely busy on weekends, so arrive early or be prepared to wait until the previous night's hikers descend. Luckily, this full-sized SUV is equipped with all the parking and driving assist you could dream of, so this wasn't an issue for us.

 

Disclaimer: This article includes activities provided by Crystal Lodge and Tourism Whistler. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Have you explored these activities around Whistler?

Tell us about your experience below!

 

 

P.S. Are you an avid adventurer?

Our Adventure Challenge Club is a private group where we host adventure experts, connect like-minded explorers and give away thousands of dollars worth of gear in outdoor challenges designed to get you outside and exploring!

photoPhoto by member Lawrence Carter 

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