5 Simple Responsible Travel Tips for Whistler

The view from Whistler Blackcomb at sunset.

5 Simple Responsible Travel Tips for Whistler

Responsible travel is based on the understanding that when we travel, we have an effect on the place we visit. By being socially and culturally aware, we can make that impact a positive one.

These five tips for responsible travel in Whistler this summer are super simple and easy to do; they just suggest that you go a bit deeper in your planning process to make things more fun when you get here.

1. Plan Ahead

COVID-19 is not on vacation, make sure you know the latest protocols by checking our dedicated COVID-19 page, which has the latest information on the public health orders and how these might affect your travel plans to Whistler.

When thinking of when you should come, go for midweek. Weekends are busy in Whistler and you can have a more relaxed experience if you come off-peak and midweek, as well as have more choice and the best deals. If you can, avoid the long weekends too, which are July 1, August 2 and September 6.

A COVID-19 congested area sign on the stroll in Whistler Village.

Pay attention to signage as you explore the Village and make sure you wear your mask. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Set your expectations by checking what’s open before you arrive. Some businesses may have adjusted their operating hours; this is the season to call ahead and check. The Doors Open Directory is a great resource for this type of information, along with any deals that might be on while you’re visiting.

Make dining and activity reservations. COVID-19 means less capacity all around, so book in your must-dos and must-eats. Most companies are offering very flexible cancellation policies, so it’s better to book rather than miss out. The team at Whistler.com (Whistler locals) can help you book activities and assist in navigating any COVID-19 protocols.

Hikers on High Note Trial in Whistler

Check which trails are open in advance and if there are any additional COVID protocols you should adhere to. PHOTO MARK MACKAY

If you’re planning on doing some hiking and you’re heading into a BC Park, like Garibaldi Provincial Park, you’ll need a Day-Use Pass (due to high visitor volumes). Passes are free and can be reserved online beginning at 7 AM, one day in advance of your planned visit. See more information at bcparks.ca.

Whistler’s parks and lakes are popular spots over the summer. If you get to your Plan A location, let’s say Rainbow Park, and it’s really busy, have a Plan B in your back pocket; like continuing down the Whistler Valley Trail on your bike until you get to Alpha Lake Park, which is typically less busy.

Check out our other Know Before You Go blog posts that we hope will help you plan for your trip to Whistler this summer.

2. Play It Safe

Whistler challenges you and pushes your boundaries by its very nature. However, now is not the time to tackle that black-rated rock-roll nemesis that’s been taunting you over the years. Keep it fun and keep it smart, so you don’t put undue strain on the local health care system and Search and Rescue teams. 

Two mountain bike riders comes down the trail as the sun sets in Whistler.

Go with your flow this summer season. PHOTO MARK MACKCAY

Before you head out on your Whistler adventure, think about the Three Ts;

  1. Trip planning
  2. Training
  3. Taking the essentials

Never heard of the Three Ts? Visit AdventureSmart for information on how to explore safely and responsibly while you’re exploring the mountains.

And remember, wildfires are a very real threat in Whistler during the summer, so always be respectful of local fire bans and never toss cigarette butts (of any kind!) onto trails, into forested areas, or out of car windows.

3. Be Patient, Be Kind

We’re all in this together.

Whistler businesses have worked really hard to reopen and revitalize Whistler responsibly and safely. A lot of that work has fallen on frontline workers who are doing their best to serve us during this difficult time, so give them some love and a distanced high-five.

A man and woman sit eating dinner while a server attends to them at their table.

Make reservations at your Whistler favourites. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

You might see some more lineups around Whistler this summer as businesses adhere to physical distancing requirements, but, due to that spacing, those lines won’t actually take too long. Let’s be patient, understanding that some things may not be the same right away.

4. Explore Responsibly

Be a part of Whistler’s efforts to minimize our environmental impact and preserve the area’s natural beauty. Avoid single-use plastics, choose alpine fresh tap water over bottled and dispose of waste responsibly (you’ll see more waste disposal units at Whistler’s parks this summer with compost and mixed recycling options).

You don’t need a car when you’re here in Whistler, in fact, they can be a bit of a pain and you’ll be seeing more pay parking this summer. The Whistler Valley Trail is the perfect way to get around, whether you’re on foot, on a bike, or skateboard.  It’s 46-kilometres of paved, car-free trail that weaves in and out of Whistler’s parks and neighbourhoods, and you can rent bikes and e-bikes in Whistler Village so you can join the active-transport movement. The RMOW also has two free shuttles running from Whistler Village to Rainbow Park and Lost Lake Park, so there’s another option for you instead of the car.

Two runners are in the high alpine in Whistler.

Stick to the trails – high alpine areas are very sensitive. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

If you’re exploring on Whistler’s trails, stay on the marked path to protect the flora and fauna, and pack out what you pack in. It’s worth taking a quick review of the BC Parks Responsible Recreation Guide to learn how to recreate safely, responsibly and respectfully this summer.

Whistler is bear country; never feed bears and do not approach them to take photos – let’s keep them wild and safe. If you want to learn more about Whistler’s bears and take photos, go on a bear viewing tour with local experts. This is the safest option for you and for the bears. Learn more about how to be Bear Smart in Whistler in Be Bear Aware in Whistler’s Backcountry.

5. Support Local

Instead of bringing the kitchen sink with you when you come up here, support the local business community by buying locally from shops and services. Not only does this enhance the Whistler community, but it also connects us socially, creates jobs and boosts the economy.

A group of three women stop for a coffee while shopping in Whistler in the summer.

Need some new outdoor gear for all those adventures you’ve got planned? Whistler has you covered. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

If you’re enjoying Whistler’s cross-country bike trails, whether you’re on them on two wheels, walking the dog, or running them, consider giving back to the people who built them. Yep, it’s people, not trail fairies, who maintain and build our incredible trails. Grab a WORCA membership and know that you’ve invested in the trails you love to recreate on – it feels good and helps the fairies.

A black bear cub, sitting in a green grass, looks straight at the camera.

Let’s keep one of Canada’s most iconic animals wild and free. PHOTO JASON COLEMAN

Another way to give back is to check in with our local, non-profit organizations to see if they have an event that you can attend. AWARE, Whistler’s environmental group, typically has great programming you can connect with, or an initiative with a local business that means they get a kickback. For example, locally-owned Keir Fine Jewellery has a line of jewellery that gives back to the Bear Smart Society.

Being a conscious and responsible traveller is an evolving concept. The more you do it, the more you’ll find ways in which you can make a positive impact. We’re told that some of these things are only a drop in the ocean, but that ocean is made up of drops, so let’s keep going.

This summer, the longer you stay, the more you save with room rates dropping as you book more nights (7 nights from $93 CAD per night). You will also receive a free adventure voucher, which gets you up to $100 off a Whistler activity. We hope to see responsible travellers back in Whistler very soon!

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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