Watching a sunset, is there a more quintessential vacation experience? Away from life’s daily responsibilities and distractions, we get to sit down and become audience members for the end of day show – of which, no two are ever the same.
In Whistler, not only are we treated to spectacular sunsets, but there’s also an encore optical phenomenon called alpenglow. When the sun sets, back-scattered light illuminates the mountain peaks opposite in radiant shades of orange and pink. This effect is the most dramatic when the peaks still have some snow on them (like right now), as the contrast makes them appear lit from within.
So, where’s the best place to catch these acts of nature?
In the Mountains
On an Overnight Hike
It only makes sense that getting up high will improve your viewpoint. There are many overnight hikes in Whistler where you can set up camp then settle in to watch the light show. Garibaldi Lake is an especially scenic option, the often calm waters reflect the glow of the glacier and any clouds in the sky. There’s also Wedgemount Lake, Russet Lake, Cheakamus Lake and more in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
If you don’t want to bring your backpacking gear to Whistler with you, you can rent from the Escape Route. Or, if you’re new to overnight hiking and don’t feel confident enough to go on your own, you can book a guided trip with Mountain Skills Academy.
On a 4×4 Sunset Tour
Go on an off-road adventure to find the best alpine vistas, no hiking required. Once your driver reaches your destination all you have to do is hop out, relax and take it all in. This is a great option for groups and families.
From the Water
At the Lake
Whistler’s lakes, particularly Green Lake and Alta Lake, open up expansive views of the Coast Mountains. Grab your crew and find a dock or beach of your choosing to watch the sun go down. Sunset swims are mandatory.
On the River of Golden Dreams
With Backroads Tours and Whistler Eco Tours you can paddle the River of Golden Dreams as sunset transitions to twilight. Watch the stars wink back at you from the water’s surface and keep an eye on the banks for wildlife. This is one of the most peaceful times of the day to be out on the river.
On a Patio
You can’t go wrong on any patio in Whistler but the below are known for their choice locations.
The Raven Room
Whistler’s newest cocktail bar (and patio), The Raven Room, has a prime view of Blackcomb Mountain. Sip on one of the carefully crafted cocktails or savour one of their equally delicious desserts as the sun goes down.
Garibaldi Lift Co.
The Garibaldi Lift Co. (or GLC) is a well-known and lively patio, you can see it from Skier’s Plaza. The patio is so popular they had to expand it in 2016. Here you’ll find mountain bikers fresh from the park, hikers and sightseers alike reliving their day at après. Depending on where you sit, you can see Blackcomb, Whistler, Sproatt and Rainbow mountains. This is one of the highest patios in Whistler which is what makes the views so good.
On Friday – Sunday evenings throughout the summer, Whistler Blackcomb sightseeing hours are extended to 8 PM. You can take your pick of on-mountain patios from the laid-back Umbrella Bar to the Roundhouse Lodge for the Mountain Top Summer Feast.
Pangea Pod Rooftop Patio
Pangea Pod is home to Whistler’s only rooftop patio. Rooftop = views! It’s not only a great spot to watch the sun set but also to meet locals and other travellers alike. It’s the perfect spot if you’re solo and looking for adventure buddies.
From your Hotel
Now, this may be the most luxurious way to do it – from your hotel hot tub. You don’t need to have the best view for that experience to be enjoyable but the Pan Pacific Mountainside, Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Nita Lake Lodge offer some of the best panorama views. Alternatively, you could order in-room service and relax on your patio – for the best sunset view, request a west facing room.
More Sky Events to Watch for in Whistler this Summer
Sunset and alpenglow aren’t the only events lighting up the sky this summer.
Perseid Meteor Shower
With minimal light pollution, Whistler is an excellent place to watch this annual August meteor shower. Your chances of seeing the most shooting stars will improve the farther or higher you get from the Village.
The Milky Way
In the summer months, the Milky Way is visible in the Northern Hemisphere. You can watch it arch over the Whistler Valley on any clear night. Best enjoyed lying on a dock or picnic blanket in one of Whistler’s parks.
The Northern Lights
Sometimes, when we are very, very lucky, the northern lights pay a visit to our skies. This usually happens in July or August. You can check this forecaster to see what your chances are, Whistler is in the Kp 5 – 7 range.
Whistler is always giving us reasons to look up, down and all around – find your perfect accommodation view or plan a sunset experience on Whistler.com.