A feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.
Admittedly, trying to choose seven wonders in a place like Whistler is actually incredibly easy. The mountains and forests here are overflowing with beauty, most of the people here are remarkable, and almost everyone enjoys getting out amongst the world to explore the unfamiliar. There is enough wonder in Whistler to last a lifetime, but if you’re on a shorter timeline here are seven of our favourites this winter.
1. The Blackcomb Ice Cave
Peering into this cool blue chasm of awesomeness almost feels like staring into the eye of time and life itself. Accessible by skis on the Blackcomb Glacier, this cave opens differently from year to year but this winter it offers a gaping new perspective of geologic time and what the world looks like underneath the powder or perfect grooming. Whistler Blackcomb does not want people entering the cave (anything that awesome can’t be 100% safe) but anyone is welcome to slide over for a look and a photo.
Left:@hannahkeiver PHOTO. Right:@msutts PHOTO
2. Ancient Cedars
Mother Nature always provides the best wonders and these massive, 900+ year-old evergreen giants are some of the oldest living things in the area – they were already good-sized trees when Columbus bumped into the North American continent. They’re veritable monsters now.
Standing deep in the woods on the flanks of Cougar Mountain, the Ancient Cedars make for a leisurely hike in the summer months. This time of year they can still be found but you will want a sturdy 4×4 vehicle to access the trailhead and some snowshoes for the trail. Stop by the Whistler Visitor Centre for up-to-the-day trail and access information.
3. The PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience
The 360 in the name is not just a bunch of unchecked marketing, neither are the world records. The PEAK 2 PEAK actually is a full-on, mind-blowing experience in every direction (especially down). Riding the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains gets you incredible views of both ski hills as well as Fissile Mountain, the Overlord glacier, Whistler Village, Rainbow Mountain and more. Plus anyone of any age or ability can take the journey and kiss the sky. (Hint: one of the cabins has a glass bottom and is worth waiting for to get a cool glimpse of the snowy marshmallow trees below.)
4. Alexander Falls
Sure, Brandywine Falls is higher but it’s also closed in the winter. Alexander Falls, on the other hand, is just off the road leading to the nordic venues at Callaghan Country and Whistler Olympic Park and incredibly easy and safe to get a look at.
And what a look it is—glacial water cascading over a multi-tiered rock embankment mixes with cold winter air temperature and sunshine to create a sparkling, ice-coated winter wonder.
Left:Alexander Falls. @jaimestein PHOTO. Right: Whistler Alpenglow. PAUL MORRISON PHOTO.
There is a science behind the way the mountain tops light up with such rich and stunning colours at sunset this time of year. And the Insider has an entire post and two videos dedicated to it.
6. Whistler Peak
Beside the sense that you are literally on top of the world, the highest spot on Whistler Mountain is also significant for the variety of wonder to be found. There are views in every direction with the knobby stem of an ancient volcano punctuating the southern sky like some kind of giant, black tusk. (“The Black Tusk” is actually it’s proper name, although local First Nations called it t’ak’t’ak mu’yin tl’a in7in’a’xe7en — the Landing Place of the Thunderbird.”)
Left: Ice and rime. Right: A small part of the view from the top of the world. MIKE CRANE PHOTO.
Completed in 1986 the Peak Chair that brings you to Whistler Peak was considered a marvel of engineering in its time and the final approach over a sheer cliff can still put an edge on unsuspecting riders. Once atop the Peak however, it’s nothing but smiles, photos and occasional bouts of inclement weather, as the massive, snow-blown Inukshuk or wind-hammered, rime encrusted weather station and chairlift buildings can attest.
7. This Pow Turn (and every one like it, all winter long).
Wonder doesn’t need to be set in stone. Any great moment can be remarkable or amazing. The greatest wonders of the world will always be the ones you stumble upon yourself.
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Museum is full of historical wonder but as an indoor facility it didn’t seem winter-y enough to make this list. Other classic Whistler experiences like ziplining, public skeleton and Sushi Village’s Dumbo Sake also just missed the cut. It just goes to show that Whistler is simply a wonder-full place to check out. Delve deeper at Whistler.com.