Updated September 2023

As you may have heard, we’re not like any other mountain town. Of course, there’s the world-class skiing and mountain biking that everyone talks about. And we can’t forget the picturesque Whistler Village surrounded by mountains that many travel to visit. But did you know, there are characteristics that truly make Whistler special; sights, sounds, activities and even customs that are found during the fall and early winter, unique to this corner of the world?

Exploring these perfectly typical features is a joy and part of the fun, which makes us excited to share with you this list of quintessential Whistler experiences.

1. The First Fire of the Season

After gathering, chopping and stacking firewood, there is nothing quite like spending time by the hearth. Especially for the first time that season. Luckily, there are a number of accommodation providers and restaurants that extend an opportunity to curl up fire-side or gather around a fire pit so you can stay warm while enjoying the elements.

People eating around a firepit in Whistler
Outdoor firepits = instant coziness. PHOTO DESTINATION CANADA

2. Watching the Snow Line

Waking up in the morning to mountains capped with fresh snow quickly becomes the talk of the town. The creeping snow line is a sure sign that the upcoming ski season is not far off. Its movement down the mountainside is not only beautiful but also a source of ongoing excitement for all who lay eyes upon it, and a classic Whistler experience in fall.

View from Alta Lake in Whistler
Rainbow Park is a great place to slow down and watch nature do its thing. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

3. Fall Dining Deals

A tantalizing and unique fall feature is the dining specials. During the autumn months, many of the local establishments roll out multi-course menus at a special price. These dining deals are made even yummier when savings are involved. Take a look at the individual restaurants’ websites or flip through the ads in the free, weekly  Pique Newsmagazine to spot the latest menus.

Couple sitting on patio at Four Seasons in Whistler
Dining deals make for great date nights. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

4. The Audain Art Museum

The in-between season can coincide with variable weather conditions. The drizzle doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying what Whistler has to offer. A wonderful rainy day activity is visiting the Audain Art Museum. With a permanent collection and changing exhibitions, there’s always culture to take in that will brighten up anyone’s day. The design of the museum will leave you feeling like you’ve been in the forest but without the exposure.

Couple looking at a sculpture at the Audain Art Museum
With permanent and rotating exhibits, the Audain Art Museum is always worth a visit. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

5. Fall Cross-Country Mountain Biking

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is typically open until the start of October, but if you missed it that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any mountain biking fun to be had. In fact, the surrounding valley is home to an extensive trail network, many of which can be enjoyed right from your accommodation. Pack for the weather, plan to get muddy and enjoy! The trails outside of the bike park are another part of what makes Whistler special.

Rider on a rock roll riding cross country trail in Whistler
Cooler temps and tacky conditions make this a great time of year on the lower trails. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

6. Fall Colours at the Scandinave Spa

After the hustle of the summer season and before the bustle of the winter season, the vibe in town is that of relaxation. Make the most of this quieter period as well as the fall colours by soaking an afternoon away at the Scandinave Spa Whistler. Let your weary muscles loosen in the hot pools and then re-energize in the cold. After a few rounds, sit back in the sauna and welcome the autumn chill as you exit and cool down.

Woman reading a book at the Scandinave Spa

7. Bear Viewing Tour

The bears have been busy over the past few months gathering food and fattening up for the long winter ahead. For the remaining part of October, viewers can catch our furry locals in their gluttonous prime on a Bear Viewing Tour. These critters are only around for a short while before they retire to their dens, so take advantage of this gorgeous Whistler experience while you can!

OUTSIDER CODE: If you come across a bear unexpectedly, here’s what to do. This is a very important time of year to secure your bear attractants properly so they don’t consume garbage in their quest for calories.
Black bear eating grass in Whistler
Black bears spend up to 20 hours a day eating in the fall. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

8. ATV Tour into the Mountains

Annual maintenance to the PEAK 2 PEAK and gondola system on Whistler Blackcomb happens in the fall, so make sure you check the hours of operation before planning your trip. However, there is still a way up the mountain and bonus –  it involves an all-terrain vehicle. Prepare to get muddy as you travel up Blackcomb Mountain on a Mountain Explorer ATV Tour with Canadian Wilderness Adventures. Sights on the tour include Fitzsimmons Valley lit up with fall colours, Lost Lake, Green Lake and maybe even a bear or two.

ATV Tours with Canadian Wilderness Adventures in Whistler
There’s more than one way to climb a mountain. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

9. Changing over to Snow Tires

October 1 is the date snow tires are required to travel on the Sea to Sky Highway. Regardless of the weather, upcoming holidays and equinoxes, the change in seasons is clearly signalled by putting on or taking off your winter tires – a truly mountain-town characteristic!

Sea to Sky Highway along Howe Sound
Conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly this time of year on the Sea to Sky Highway. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

10. Ski and Snowboard Movie Premieres

In addition to the changing snow line, attending the latest ski and snowboard movie premieres is a typical way to start getting excited about the upcoming winter season. From premieres at Maury Young Arts Centre to showings at Garfinkel’s, there’s generally a number of newly released action sports films that are showcased during the fall and early winter months right here in Whistler. Check the events calendar to see what’s coming up.

Crowd watching ski film in Whistler Conference Centre
No better way to build winter stoke. PHOTO KARINA ERHARDT

11. The 30 Centimetre Rule

Here in Whistler, it’s no secret that the first powder day is a big deal. Many of us have been longing for it since the end of the last winter season and employers understand this. That’s why there’s an unwritten custom called the 30 Centimetre Rule. Bring on the snow!

Skiier in powder conditions on Whistler Mountain

12. Waking up to Avalanche Bombs

BOOM! The mountain’s very own alarm clock has just gone off and when it does, it means that there is new snow! Hearing the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol team set off avalanche bombs in the early hours of the morning is music to local’s ears. If they are removing snow from features then there’s a fresh layer ready to be skied or snowboarded on. If you hear a BOOM, you better hurry up to get in line for the first lift!

First Snowfall in Whistler
The first snowfall of the season is always special. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

Whistler is full of characteristics that make it unique. Some are obvious, like our incredible terrain but others lie just under the surface waiting to be discovered. We made sure to leave a few out so that with these helpful insights into things quintessentially Whistler, you’ll be able to uncover a few of your own and allow yourself to be drawn into the magic of the mountains.

Can’t wait to see the seasons collide for yourself? 

Book your summer stay between May 1 and October 31, 2024, and save up to 25% on lodging and 15% on activities. Plus, you’ll receive a free $100 Activity Voucher on stays of 3 or more nights. Secure your mountain getaway with Whistler.com for personalized service and the local knowledge of our Whistler-based teamIf this post has you dreaming about Whistler, enter our Feel It All in Whistler summer contest to win a trip for two!


Hailey came to Whistler for a season and never left. Now, the local community, world-class mountain biking, and endless adventures are what keep her feet firmly planted in the mountains. When Hailey isn't writing, she can be found on a trail, photographing other athletes in action or working freelance as a digital strategist and content developer. Hailey's favourite mountain bike trail is Hey Bud on Blackcomb.