Know Before You Go: Whistler’s Lakes and Parks

A couple hang out on the grassy lawn of a Whistler lake in summer.

Know Before You Go: Whistler’s Lakes and Parks

We all love a good park. The wide-open space, luscious grass underfoot, access to the water and therefore, water toys, the dappled shade of a grove of trees, and the views out over the snow-capped mountain ranges. And, because we all love it, we have to share it.

Whistler’s parks and lakes will be busy this summer, so make your summer plans diverse, consider coming midweek and off-peak (early morning and evenings), and have a Plan B in your back pocket (not hard when you’re in one of the most adventure-filled places on the planet).

Getting to Whistler’s Lakes and Parks

One of Whistler’s most unsung achievements is the 46-kilometre, car-free, Valley Trail system that winds around parks, lakes and neighbourhoods. Park and play this summer by leaving the car and getting on a bike. Whether you rent a bike or bring your own, there are many ways that active transport is the better option. Not only is it good for you and the planet, but it’s a fun way to explore a bit farther this summer.

A man and a woman bike along the Whistler Valley Trail boardwalk at Green Lake.

Find new spots via bike this summer in Whistler. PHOTO MIRAE CAMPBELL

Knowing that more people will be out on their bikes, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has free and secure bike valet stations at Whistler Olympic Plaza, Rainbow Park, and Lost Lake Park starting June 18 on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays, so you can store your two wheels safely while you explore on foot.

The RMOW is also running free Rainbow and Lost Lake park shuttles, which are in addition to free local transit on weekends and statutory holidays (running June 19 to September 6). There are also some road and construction projects that will make it a little tougher to get to some of Whistler’s parks via car this summer, so ditch the car and opt to bike, shuttle, or use transit when you’re in Whistler.

Picnics at the Park

There’s no need to lug a full picnic basket and cooler to the park with you this summer as Whistler’s food truck program, Park Eats!, has been amped up. From now until September 6 there will be rotating, locally-owned and operated food trucks and pop-up tents at Alpha Lake, Lakeside, Lost Lake and Rainbow parks serving up crepes, coffees, salads, burgers, pizza, gelato, kombucha and more tasty lunch options and refreshing treats.

There’s also a new in-park delivery point for orders from Portobello (run by Fairmont Chateau Whistler) at eight park locations. The Park Eats! program runs from Friday to Monday from now to the end of June, and daily from June 26 to September 6 (with vendors operating from 11 AM to 5 PM).

A couple hang out on the grassy lawn of a Whistler lake in summer.

Whistler’s parks will be busy this summer. Consider coming midweek and off-peak for a more relaxed atmosphere. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

It’s good to know that the fire rating in Whistler in the summer months typically sits at high to extreme, which means you’re only allowed gas and propane barbeques at the parks and lakes. If you are thinking of bringing your own barbeque with you, check the fire rating before you pack it and never put hot coals into the bins at the park.

Talking of bins, please don’t overflow them. If they’re looking a bit full, take your waste with you and dispose of it back at your accommodation. Don’t leave it for Whistler’s wildlife; a fed bear is a dead bear. There are recycling and compost bin options at the parks, so make sure to take a look at what you’re putting in each one. Whistler’s environmental group, AWARE, will be on hand on weekends to help with any waste-based questions.

Water Toys & Tents

You know we started this post off on the topic of sharing, well, we all love our toys but we’ve got to think about what we cart down to the parks this summer and how much room it takes up. You should really try to limit yourself to one picnic blanket and don’t bring a tent – not only do they take up a lot of room, but they block sightlines to the water and if the wind picks up they can become moving projectiles with sharp pegs attached.

A child jumps into a lake in Whistler on a sunny day.

Wahoo! Jump on in. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Shop local for fun things you might want to have at the lake – sandcastle competition, anyone? If you do buy something new, remove all the packaging before you come to the park, as the bins aren’t built for huge cardboard boxes or Styrofoam. We also suggest leaving your floaties at home and opting to rent a sturdier floatation device like a canoe, kayak, or standup paddleboard, our rivers and lakes have rocks and branches that love to make holes in thin plastic. Want to dip a rod into those waters? Grab a fishing license before you do (you can get these at Whistler Hardware) and make sure you know which lakes are catch and release only.

If you are bringing your own water toys to Whistler, remember to give them a wash before and after so that you don’t accidentally drop off some invasive species that shouldn’t be here. Talking of invasive species, if you are intrigued by Whistler’s flora and fauna, then look out for the pop-up nature stations at the parks on weekends.

Respect the Space

We still need to practice physical distancing, so when you’re setting up your picnic blanket make sure it’s a pool noodle length away from the next one, and if there isn’t space to do that, then you’ll need to opt for that Plan B. If you want to throw a Frisbee or play a game of soccer, then we suggest getting to the park early, or come later when the main rush of the day is over. Running over a toddler as you go for goal will not win you any points.

You’ll notice Park Hosts in their red shirts and jackets this summer. They’re there to answer any questions you have about Whistler, they are not bylaw officers or the complaints department, but if you’re looking for a dinner tip, they just might have some recommendations for you.

A dog jumps off a dock into a lake in Whistler.

Make sure your pooch is on a leash unless they’re in an off-leash dog park. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

We do love our furry members of the family here in Whistler, but we ask that you keep them on a leash in the parks and on the trails, unless you’re at an off-leash park / area. And please pick up the poop, we have bag stations and bins at all the parks too!

COVID-19 Basics

  • Stay home if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, and get tested if your symptoms are consistent with COVID-19.
  • Practice physical distancing and stay two metres apart from others
  • Bring a face mask and wear it when you’re not able to physically distance by two metres
  • If it’s too busy, come back another time or try another park
  • Bylaw Officers and Park Hosts are out and about to reminding people about physical distancing. They are there to help everyone have a positive park experience, so say hi and shoot them a distanced high five.
  • Be courteous and kind to others – everyone has their own version of what is and isn’t safe right now, give people space and the benefit of the doubt

For more COVID-19 information, visit Whistler.com/covid.

Whistler is still the same fun-loving, thrill-seeking destination it’s always been, we’re just slowing the pace a touch this summer. We can’t wait to welcome you back when the time is right for you, and if you want to win a trip to Whistler this summer (enter now, travel later), check out the Adventure Deeper Contest, which includes round-trip airfare, six nights’ accommodation and a host of summer activity fun.

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. 

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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