Know Before You Go: Outdoor Activities off the Slopes

A man stands under the cold fountain at the Scandinave Spa in Whistler.

Know Before You Go: Outdoor Activities off the Slopes

You don’t need to be a skier or snowboarder to spend time in the mountains. One thing Whistler’s got in abundance is activities that utilize its vast, wide-open terrain and they do this in lots of different ways.

It’s hard to squeeze them all into one trip, so we’d suggest setting up camp and opting for a longer stay (there are deals to be had) and working remotely from Whistler so you can take a real crack at some mountain adventures.

From soaring over them, to scaling them and journeying through them, here is some inspiration for what you can do off the slopes in the mountains this winter.

A man jumps backwards off the bridge in the snow at Whistler Bungee.

Fly like a snowflake. PHOTO WHISTLER BUNGEE

We all know and understand that this winter is going to be different, but Whistler is open and ready. With gratitude, patience and grace, we’re looking forward to an incredible winter season that’s still got all the components we love, just adjusted. Our activity providers are up and running, with a few tweaks to their operations to make sure we all stay safe this winter.

  • Bring your face mask.
  • Activity providers have enhanced safety protocols, so look out for signage and read over any communication they send you to make sure you’re aware.
  • Advance reservations are recommended, but with our new normal, most have flexible cancellation policies.
  • Expect to fill out forms for self-screening and tracing.
  • Private tours are available for your bubble, so enquire when you book if this is something you’d like to take advantage of.
  • Contactless check-in and online waivers are the norm now; make sure you read them thoroughly.
  • Some tours have self-drive options, but if you do need a shuttle, make sure to bring your face mask for the journey and for other times when physical distancing isn’t possible.
  • Sanitization of equipment is happening with more frequency, so expect to see people with spray bottles doing some cleaning!

INSIDER TIP: If you’re in Whistler at peak times, like festive or during school holidays, or over the weekends, consider booking ahead as tours do sell out (it happened this summer).

two people ziplining over snowy trees

Let go or hold on, it’s up to you! PHOTO THE ADVENTURE GROUP

Soaring Over It

Seeing the mountains from a birds-eye view is spectacular as you grasp just how vast the valley is, with white-covered trees and craggy mountain tops stretching to the horizon. There are varying levels in which one can make like a bird in Whistler, one of which is to attempt to imitate a diving peregrine falcon (the fastest bird in the world) as you launch into thin air over the glacially-fed Cheekye River with Whistler Bungee. Read about what it’s like to take a dive in Whistler Bungee Jumping: On Fear, Gravity and Getting Old.

A red helicopter hovers over Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler.

Make like a bird, a big red bird. PHOTO BLACKCOMB HELICOPTER

Scale that back a touch with ziplining, with options for tackling three to five lines as you flit around the mountains taking in the views with the wind in your hair. Or maybe you want to get more intimately acquainted with some of Whistler’s ancient volcanoes and glaciers? You’ll need a big bird for that. Whistler has a range of helicopter tours from short, scenic flights to ice cave adventures. Read more about those in Rock Flour, Ice Caves and the Meaning of Time.

Two cross-country skiers explore the forested trails in Whistler.

Skiing through the forests. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Journeying Through It

If you’re looking for something that breaks a sweat, Whistler has 90 kilometres of cross-country ski trails for you to tackle out at Whistler Olympic Park and 30 kilometres at Lost Lake Park, located right in Whistler Village (this location also has night skiing). If you’re bringing little ones, take a read of Fam Jam at Whistler Olympic Park: XC Skiing with Young Kids for some tips.

Snowshoeing is another activity that can be a thigh burner or a peaceful, relaxing experience in the surrounding old-growth forest perfect to relax the mind, especially if you take a plunge in the cold pools at the Scandinave Spa afterwards. New this year are snowshoe tours on the Ancient Cedars trail, which take you to an incredible grove of old-growth forest on Cougar Mountain and another that includes a campfire cookout with s’mores. For more ideas on where to snowshoe in Whistler read our Insider’s Guide to Snowshoeing in Whistler.

Three snowmobilers stop riding to take in the views on a sunny winter's day in Whistler's backcountry.

Taking in the vast backcountry views. PHOTO CLAIRE LANG

Whistler has vast backcountry terrain and one way to get out into the depths is via a snowmobile. With tours for beginners to expert riders, exploring Whistler’s wild tundra is fun when you get to fire a throttle. You can even wind your way up to a backcountry cabin for steak under the stars, read what that’s like in Snowmobiles, Steak and Starlight. Or, opt for fresh tracks by being the first out there on the Yukon Breakfast Tour.

Learning Ice Climbing in Whistler

The only way is up. PHOTO DAN O’KEEFE / MOUNTAIN SKILLS ACADEMY AND ADVENTURES

When it starts to get dark in the late afternoon it’s time to head to the forest. Vallea Lumina is a multimedia, storified light show where you walk a winding one-kilometre path through the forest at the base of Cougar Mountain (it takes about 45 minutes). This is definitely a must do while you’re here in Whistler, read more in Magic in the Mountains: Winter Vallea Lumina.

The bear made of stardust at Vallea Lumina in Whistler.

Bears made of stardust. PHOTO THE ADVENTURE GROUP

Scaling It

A very literal scale, ice climbing tours take place on Blackcomb Mountain. No experience is necessary, but you might need to dig deep and bring your brave face, read more in Bucket List Mission: Ice Climbing in Whistler.

The saying goes, what goes up must come down, and in Whistler why not take the Olympic route for your descent? The Whistler Sliding Centre offers Passenger Bobsleigh and Public Skeleton on the same track the Olympians use (you just start a little lower down). For what this ride feels like, take a read of How to Skeleton and Bobsleigh in Whistler.

Ready for some G-force? PHOTO BLAKE JORGENSON

Soaking In It

An outdoor spa in Whistler, in the winter, what? The Scandinave Spa is a tranquil oasis that’s found on the edge of Lost Lake’s forest. Encouraging you to invigorate your body with hydrotherapy (going from hot to cold), this spa has open-air baths, Swedish dry saunas, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms and relaxing solariums, all set in the beauty of nature. Note that masks are mandatory at the Scandinave this winter season.

A man stands under the cold fountain at the Scandinave Spa in Whistler.

A spa in the snow. PHOTO CHAD CHOMLACK

There is so much to do in Whistler, I’ve been here for fourteen years now and have only just scratched the surface. I am also still building up the courage to try ice climbing! For even more inspiration, flick through some of Whistler.com’s winter activity itineraries.

Take a look at our dedicated COVID-19 page and our Doors Open Directory, which highlights businesses that are open and what protocols they have in place, so you know what to expect when you head up here.

We’re excited for the start of the winter season and hope you are too. If you’re coming to Whistler this winter please bring your face mask, travel manners and as always, your sense of adventure. If you still need to book your Whistler vacation then do it by December 1 to get the best deals on lodging and packages

Dee Raffo

Dee Raffo

You can often find Dee exploring all Whistler has to offer with her three-kid tribe in tow. Originally from the UK, Dee enjoys balancing out high-thrills adventures with down-time basking in the beauty of the wonderful place she now calls home.

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