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Whistler Resort and Village in British Columbia: Facts and Photos

Linda Crampton is a writer who lives in Greater Vancouver. She enjoys walking and likes to take photographs of her discoveries.

A view of Whistler (in the valley) and its surroundings from Whistler Mountain

A view of Whistler (in the valley) and its surroundings from Whistler Mountain

An Attractive Tourist Attraction

Whistler is a British Columbian town that has become a major tourist attraction. The town is located in a valley surrounded by mountains and includes a year-round resort. In winter, the resort is used for skiing and snowboarding. In summer, hiking and mountain biking are popular. Gondolas carry sports enthusiasts, explorers, and sightseers up mountains. The resort contains an attractive pedestrian village reminiscent of European ones as well as numerous restaurants, hotels, and other forms of lodging. It’s a lovely place to visit even if someone doesn’t participate in sports.

Whistler is located in southwestern British Columbia. I live in the Greater Vancouver area, which is just over a two-hour drive away from the town. I enjoy exploring Whistler Blackcomb (the area's official name) and taking photos of the village and the resort. Unless otherwise noted, the photos in this article were taken by me when I attended a conference in the area.

The road leading from the Vancouver area to Whistler is officially known as Highway 99, but it's more often called the Sea to Sky Highway.

History of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort

Whistler Mountain was originally named London Mountain by the British naval officers who surveyed the area. The mountain is often surrounded by fog, which reportedly reminded the officers of London. The name of the mountain and the community at its base was eventually changed to Whistler. The new name came from the whistling call of the hoary marmots that live in the area.

Nancy Greene Raine is well known in British Columbia. She won many national and international ski events in her sports career. Nancy and her husband Al Raine were instrumental in establishing the resort at the base of Whistler Mountain. The resort was created in an attempt to host the 1968 Winter Olympics (which failed) and opened in 1966.

In 1980, a different resort opened at the base of the nearby Blackcomb mountain. In 2003, the union between the Whistler and Blackcomb resorts was completed. In 2016, the combined operation was bought by a US company.

Today the resort is frequently referred to as Whistler Blackcomb and is internationally known. It's often considered to be the largest ski resort in North America. It's used for sports events, business conferences, and recreational activities and offers many attractions.

The Inukshuk

An inukshuk or inuksuk (as the term is used in much of Canada) is a statue made of stones that are stacked together so that they resemble a human being. There are two of these objects in Whistler–one at the entrance to the village and one on top of Whistler Mountain. They were created to mark the 2010 Olympics.

Inuksuit (the plural of inukshuk) are becoming popular welcome symbols in Canada. The name is not culturally correct, however. The Inuit people traditionally used stones or piles of stones called inuksuit to mark special places in the Arctic and for communication and navigation. The stones could convey suprisingly detailed information. The Inuit called a statue resembling a human, such as the one above, an inunnguaq, not an inukshuk. It was used to mark a place where humans met.

Villages in Whistler

There are three linked sections with the name "village" in them in the town of Whistler: Village Centre (or simply Whistler Village), Village North, and the Upper Village. All are interesting to explore. There always seems to be a place to buy food in sight during a walk through the area. The villages also contain stores selling clothing, jewelry, and art. In two of the villages, essentials like groceries and medicines can be bought.

The villages form a full-service community as well as a tourist attraction. Important services such as medical centres and dentists, a fire department, and an RCMP (police) station are located in the area. One of the medical centres is normally open at specific hours but is available at any time for an emergency.

Village North is connected to Whistler Village. The Upper Village is located a short distance away, however. To get there, a walker needs to cross Blackcomb Way and then travel along the Fitzsimmons Trail. The trip along the trail takes around ten minutes (or less, depending on walking speed). Gondola stations are located in both Whistler Village and the Upper Village.

Maps of the Whistler area are available at the Tourism Whistler website. The maps are useful not only for finding one's way but also for making sure that an attraction isn't missed. The branching routes through the villages are a bit confusing at first.

The Welcome Figure

The Welcome Figure

The Welcome Figure in Whistler Village

The Welcome Figure sculpture was carved in 2012 and placed in the Village Common area of Whistler Village in January, 2013. According to the information written on the plaque attached to the sculpture, a Welcome Figure was traditionally placed on the coastline by the Squamish Nation in order to welcome both friends and guests.

The Squamish Nation is a group of indigenous people. They are the descendants of the Coast Salish aboriginal people who once lived in the Greater Vancouver area and nearby locations. The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is located near the Upper Village and gives more information about the people and their traditions.

The sculpture shows a man with his arms raised and pressed against his chest. This posture represents agreement, gratitude, and hospitality. The man wears a copper hat, which represents a cedar one. Near the base of the sculpture is a depiction of a woven cedar root basket containing salmon. The sculpture itself is made of red cedar.

The lead carver of the Welcome Figure was Aaron Nelson-Moody from the Squamish Nation. He was assisted by Delmar Williams from both the Squamish Nation and the Lil'wat Nation and Todd Edmonds from the Lil'wat Nation.

A feat of engineering, the (Peak 2 Peak) gondola boasts the longest unsupported lift span in the world (3.024 kilometres or 1.88 miles). It is also the highest lift of its kind with an elevation of 436 metres (1,427 ft).

— Tourism Whistler

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The journey enables travellers to visit the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain and the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain. The trip is very enjoyable and the views are wonderful, as I discovered during my ride. The gondolas travel gently and quite slowly. They are also stable, or at least they were on the day that I rode on them, which is reassuring for anyone who is a little anxious about the journey.

Gondola travellers need to remember that the temperature at the top of the mountains may be much colder than at the base and that there may be snow on the ground in winter. Extra clothing is important in order to keep warm and dry. A camera is a great accessory to take on the trip. In summer, a ride on the gondola gives a traveller access to over 50 km of hiking and walking trails.

The Tourism Whistler website has lots of information about the ride. Buying a ticket gives a person more than just a ride in gondolas. The Peak 2 Peak ride by itself takes about eleven minutes. Another gondola ride (included in the ticket price) must be taken to get from the village to the Peak 2 Peak station. This ride takes around twenty-five minutes. These times also apply to the return journey, which needs to be kept in mind when planning a trip. Crowds at the stations can add to the travel time.

In 2015, the Peak 2 Peak Gondola was awarded two Guinness World Records: "highest cable car above ground" and "the longest unsupported span between two cable car towers".

A sculpture by the Fitzsimmons Trail

A sculpture by the Fitzsimmons Trail

Whistler Trails

The Whistler area has many trails and is an interesting place for nature lovers. The trails range from flat ones suitable for the whole family to steep ones that require a full-day hike. Safety needs to be kept in mind when hiking on the more isolated trails.

The Valley Trail is a nice path for people who want to do some relatively gentle exercise while they explore Whistler. It's the only trail in the area that I've used (apart from the Fitzsimmons Trail). The path is flat and is paved except for some boardwalk sections. It travels around Whistler's neighbourhoods and by some lakes. The complete Valley Trail is more than 40 km long. It connects to a trail that travels across Canada.

The Valley Trail is open to both walkers and cyclists. Dogs are welcome along the route, though they must be on a leash. Dog parks are located in some areas next to the trail, however. Here pets can run free. Whistler as a whole seems to be dog-friendly.

In winter, some sections of the trail are maintained for walkers and fat bikers while other sections are maintained for cross country skiers. Fat bikes have wide tires, which helps them to move over snow.

The sculpture and Fitzsimmons Creek in late winter

The sculpture and Fitzsimmons Creek in late winter

Sculpture Beside the Fitzsimmons Trail

Art and culture are given attention in Whistler, which adds another dimension to a visit to the area. The sculpture beside the Fitzsimmons Trail in my photo was created by James Stewart. It shows a capoeirista, or a participant in capoeira, in a brief moment of stillness. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that contains elements of acrobatics and dance and is performed to music. The practice has spread to other parts of the world, including Vancouver.

Stewart calls the character in his sculpture Jeri after Jericoacoara, a resort town in Brazil. He says that the character has just finished fighting, or performing. Stewart says that Jeri "is in a satiated, balanced posture before he springs alive again".

Jeri may no longer be in place if and when you visit Whistler, since he was supposed to be a temporary installation. Other works of art will almost certainly be visible, however. The Whistler website in the last link below has a virtual tour of the public art. The site contains lots of additional information about the area.

Getting to Whistler: The Sea to Sky Highway

The Sea to Sky Highway is kept in good condition and offers wonderful views of an ocean inlet, especially on a sunny day. Until quite recently, it wasn't in the fine state that exists today, however. It was once a winding road with a high accident rate. The road was rebuilt for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Bus companies offers multiple trips a day between Vancouver and Whistler for people who can't or don't want to drive. I went to and from the conference on a Greyhound bus and found the journey comfortable. The seats had an electrical outlet beside them to charge computers and similar devices. Unfortunately, Greyhound has ceased operations in many parts of British Columbia and the Whistler Blackcomb route has been discontinued. Other buses go to the area, but the Greyhound trip was the cheapest option.

Shuttle buses travel from Vancouver Airport to Whistler (and in the reverse direction). For those who can afford the high cost, a helicopter trip is an option. Whistler has a heliport.

I'm lucky that I live near enough to Whistler to take a day trip there. For people who travel to southern British Columbia for fun or business, spending a day (or longer) at Whistler is very worthwhile. It's an interesting area to explore.

References

  • Historical facts about Whistler and Nancy Greene Raine from the Whistler Museum
  • Inukshuk entry from the Canadian Encyclopedia
  • Public art information from the Resort Community of Whistler

© 2018 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 13, 2019:

Hi, Scott. I find the drive beautiful, too, as long as the weather is reasonably good. Whistler is an enjoyable place to visit. Thanks for the comment.

Scott S Bateman on July 13, 2019:

We loved visiting the Whistler sky resort when we lived in Seattle. The resort was beautiful as well as the mountains and even the drive there. Thanks for bringing back a good memory.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 26, 2018:

Hi, Karen. It's a lovely place to explore, especially in summer. I appreciate your comment.

Karen Hellier from Georgia on June 26, 2018:

Beautiful photos Linda. Thanks so much for sharing them. Just from the photos alone, it looks like a place I would love to visit!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 29, 2018:

Thank you, Nithya. I hope you're able to see the Welcome Figure in person one day.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 29, 2018:

Enjoyed the trip through your detailed and well presented article. The photos are great, the Welcome Figure is quite amazing. Hope to visit the Whistler Resort and Village someday.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 28, 2018:

Hi, Genna. The idea of fat bikes is quite a new discovery for me, too! Thank you very much for the visit and the kind comment.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 28, 2018:

What gorgeous county. And that sculpture by the Fitzsimmons Trail is so arresting... I've never heard of "fat bikes" before, but what a great idea. Beautifully written, enjoyable, and informative at the same time. Thank you.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 23, 2018:

Thanks for the comment, Nikki. London is definitely a long distance away from Whistler! I hope you're able to visit the area one day.

Nikki Khan from London on April 23, 2018:

Whistler seems an awesome place to visit, you’re very lucky though to live so close.I loved the pictures and history of this village, loved all.

Thanks for introducing a wonderful place to visit, London is quite far from there, would plan in coming year.

I’ve missed some of your hubs I was checking were new, would catch up to them.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 23, 2018:

Hi, Flourish. Yes, it was an interesting and enjoyable experience. I appreciated the opportunity to attend the conference.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 23, 2018:

This looks and sounds like a lovely place to visit. You’re fortunate to live so close and to be able to spend tim there all expenses paid by HP! Hope you enjoyed yourself and had fun as well.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 23, 2018:

Hi, Chitrangada. Thank you for the comment. Whistler is lovely. I think it's especially beautiful on a sunny day, but it's interesting to explore at any time.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 23, 2018:

Thank you for introducing us to this wonderful place! Whistler sounds beautiful by your detailed travel tour. Your pictures and videos are amazing.

You are fortunate to live close by. Interesting to know that you attended the Maven conference.

Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative article!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 22, 2018:

I hope you do visit the area and that you enjoy the trip, Suhail. It's a lovely place for both individuals and a family to explore.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on April 21, 2018:

Hi Linda,

Lovely place that I would like to be some day soon when my brother and his family visits their home back. I am sure that younger folks in the family will love to ski and board, while older people like me will mostly be hiking. We do want to drive down our RVs to Vancouver.

Our neighbours have a habit of visiting winter Olympics and they have visited Whistler, Sochi, and now PeyongChang. We have heard many good things about BC and our plan is because of their feedback.

Regards,

Suhail and my dog K2

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 21, 2018:

Hi, Donna. It was lovely to see Whistler, though I was only able to explore places quite near to the hotel on this trip. I managed to see a bit more while I was waiting for my bus to arrive. I've explored parts of the Valley Trail on my previous trips, though I've never travelled along the whole trail. I'm going to do this one day. There is still a lot that I want to see and do at Whistler! Thanks for the visit.

Donna Herron from USA on April 21, 2018:

Whistler is certainly very beautiful. Your photos bring back some fond memories. You certainly saw a lot of the surrounding area while you were there. Your article has given me a lot of background information and ideas for planning my next trip. Thanks for posting and sharing!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 20, 2018:

Hi, Peggy. Yes, it was a nice place for the conference. It's a shame that you didn't travel north to Whistler when you were in Squamish. You were so close!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 20, 2018:

Thanks for showing us what the town of Whistler looks like. You are lucky to live so close to it. I once visited Squamish on a day trip from Vancouver many years ago but did not go further north. That was surely a beautiful spot for the Maven conference!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 19, 2018:

Hi, Natalie. It was certainly an enjoyable and informative conference. I thought the gondola trip was amazing, too!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 19, 2018:

I appreciate your comment, Dora. The gondolas at Whistler Blackcomb definitely attract the attention!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 19, 2018:

Thank you for the visit and the comment, Heidi. I hope the upcoming weekend is a good one for you.

Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on April 19, 2018:

Your article brings back fond memories and thoughts of the conference and makes me want to visit again. It was a truly lovely place and the gondola trip was amazing! I had no idea it was the highest and longest unsupported span in the world. Thanks for writing this up.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 19, 2018:

Thanks for letting us tour Whistler with you. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola certainly gets my attention, but all the views are appealing. Good job!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 19, 2018:

Always love your personal photos, especially of the sculptures. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful region with us!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 19, 2018:

Thank you for commenting, rdsparrowriter. It is a beautiful place—especially when it's sunny. I always enjoy my visits there,

Rochelle Ann De Zoysa from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on April 19, 2018:

Wow! It seems like a very beautiful place :) I enjoyed reading this and thank you for sharing :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 19, 2018:

I have the same problem, Bill. There are so many lovely places that I'd like to visit, but I don't have the time (or the money) to do so. It's not as good, but I'm glad that I can at least explore places via computers.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 19, 2018:

Hi, Manatita. I think visiting Whistler should be on the to-do list of many people! The native people of British Columbia used to be called Indians, but that term is no longer used. The terms First Nations, indigenous people, or aboriginal people are used instead.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2018:

Oddly I've never been there. It is, for sure, a beautiful place. There are so many beautiful places in this area...and yours...and not enough time, I'm afraid, to see them all.

manatita44 from london on April 18, 2018:

Looks Like it should be on my 'to do list.' A beautiful place! I like the statures. The first reminded me of a totem pole and red Indians. But yes, it makes sense coming from the Aborigines. Perhaps Africa too.

You live close, eh? Good on ya!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 18, 2018:

Thanks for the visit, Peg. Whistler is certainly an interesting place and an enjoyable area to explore. You might enjoy the gondola ride as well. It's not as scary as it looks.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 18, 2018:

Hi, Glenn. It was great to meet you at the conference, too! I l enjoyed the Peak 2 Peak Gondola rides as well. I'm sometimes uncomfortable with heights, but I had no problem at Whistler. The experience was very interesting as well as enjoyable. Thank you very much for the comment.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on April 18, 2018:

What an interesting place full of history and intrigue. I loved the inukshuk statue and the other monuments as well as your description of the resort. Not sure if I would ride the Gondola or not. It looks a bit scary.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on April 18, 2018:

Linda, We all got to know a little about Whistler during the Maven Conference, but your article gave me a much more meaningful appreciation for the area.

It was wonderful reading about Whistler and its history written by one who lives near to it. You wrote a detailed review that brings out the beauty of it all.

I didn’t get to notice much of the Upper Village since we walked back to the hotel in the dark late after that last night’s dinner, but your description and pictures were a great addition to the experience. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola rides were truly impressive.

It was great meeting you at the conference.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 18, 2018:

I appreciate your visit, Bede. British Columbia does have some beautiful scenery. I enjoy exploring the province.

Bede from Minnesota on April 18, 2018:

There are mountains…then there are Mountains! I feel dizzy just looking at the photos! Thanks for sharing, Linda. I had no idea that B.C. was so spectacularly beautiful.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 18, 2018:

Hi, Liz. I found the link amusing, too! Thanks for the visit and the comment.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 18, 2018:

I feel like I've learned a lot about Whistler from your article. I found the link between the fog and the English amusing. The photos are great.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 18, 2018:

Yes, Whistler is beautiful. Thank you for the comment, Devika.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 18, 2018:

Hi, Susan. Whistler is definitely worth visiting if you ever get the chance!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 18, 2018:

A beautiful place indeed! I like the photos and you shared with great interest.

Susan SJ on April 18, 2018:

WOW! This place looks absolutely amazing. I would love to visit.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 17, 2018:

Hi, Mary. I think the province is beautiful, too. I've lived in New Brunswick and Alberta and found some lovely areas there, but British Columbia is my favourite part of the country at the moment.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 17, 2018:

It is really lovely. I think B.C. is one of the most beautiful areas in Canada and you're lucky to live there.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 17, 2018:

Hi, Jackie. Yes, I do feel lucky living where I do. There are lots of lovely places that I can visit during day trips.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 17, 2018:

How lucky you are to live so close to this beautiful place! If it were me I am sure I would be shortening that distance all that I could!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 17, 2018:

Hi, Bill. I appreciate your comment. It's a shame that you couldn't attend the conference. I'm planning to go back to Whistler a bit later in the year and hope to explore some more trails and take some more photos. There's a lot to see beyond the village! I'm still thinking about what I learned at the conference. It was certainly an interesting event.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 17, 2018:

Hi Linda. Wonderful hub. This is my kind of area. Would love to ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola and hike the trails. I really wanted to attend the Maven Conference but just couldn’t manage the time off with a number of other commitments already scheduled for the remainder of this year. I read Glenn’s take on the conference and would be interested in your opinion of what took place and the future of the combined entity. Love the photos.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 17, 2018:

Hi, Glimmer. I appreciate being able to go to the conference as well. It gave me a lot of food for thought. Thanks for commenting.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 17, 2018:

Hi, Andrew. Thank you very much for the comment. I think it's important to remember the original and earlier inhabitants of an area, too.

Claudia Mitchell on April 17, 2018:

Hi Linda - What a treat this hub is, and what a treat it was to have been able to go. I'm going to read your other BC hubs because it is definitely an area I'd love to go to again.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 17, 2018:

Hi, Sally. I think you would enjoy Whistler very much. I hope you're able to visit the area one day.

Andrew Spacey from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on April 17, 2018:

What an interesting article. You provide great information and your photos really come through. For me the inukshuk is fascinating and connects the whole place back to the native which is important I think.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on April 17, 2018:

Whisler looks stunningly beautiful. Thanks for sharing. It would be lovely to visit should I ever be lucky enough to go to Canada.