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A day trip to Whistler

Posted by on April 24, 2014

Best we could tell from a myriad of conflicting weather channels, a break in the rain was coming. Yahoo!!! So we took that opportunity to hightail it up to Whistler, the famous ski resort town about 125 km (78 mi) north of Vancouver.

Jeff and I neither ski nor like the cold, so really, this journey was out of pure nosiness. We had to see what the fuss was about!

We quickly learned that the one of the best parts of visiting Whistler is the drive up there. The ~2hr drive took us ~4hr with photo stops.

The Sea to Sky Highway is a stretch of Highway 99 that connects Vancouver to Whistler. It hugs the winding coastline before heading inland to the mountains. The drive is beautiful, so definitely make sure to leave extra time to stop at the many stops along the way!

For us, the drive back was far more enjoyable than the drive up, mainly because many of the clouds had lifted in the afternoon. That being said, I think the drive back is likely the most picturesque no matter the weather. Leave time to savor it slowly.

First stop: Shannon Falls

About 60 km out of Vancouver, Shannon Falls is the 3rd largest waterfall in British Columbia. This amazing waterfall could easily be seen from the road but was better viewed from several viewing platforms.

Jaw-dropping in its scale and power, these falls could surely tell a story or two. Water powerfully cascaded over a series of sheer granite cliff faces from 335m (~1000 feet). The roar was simultaneously soothing and mesmerizing. It is definitely worth a stop. Beware the mosquitos though!

Shannon Falls

Second Stop: Brandywine Falls

Approximately 45 km further up Highway 99 from Shannon Falls are the Brandywine Falls. These falls are completely different—falling in one sheet from 66m (~215 feet) to a crystal clear pool below. Breathtaking in their simplicity and power.

The resulting mist formed a rainbow that was a delight to see…as was the sunshine. Perhaps our weather misfortunes are changing!

The walk to the falls was the first time we encountered snow on the ground, as well as the signs warning us of bears. Thankfully, we escaped both hazards unscathed.

Brandywine Falls

Whistler Village

After the breathtaking waterfall stops, we finally made it into the famed Whistler Village. We parked in the first deck we saw, and headed straight for the information center, not sure of what all there was to do for non-skiiers.

This was probably the most informative visitor’s center that I have ever encountered. [So, if visiting, use them!]

They quickly let us know that skiing on Whistler Mountain was closed for the season, as was the Peak-to-Peak gondola that connects Blackcomb Mountain to Whistler Mountain. A few Blackcomb runs were open, but with little to see. And the mountain biking season was a month or more away. This is a down time for Whistler, as the seasons transition from one to the next.

Rightyo, decision made. Nothing to see going upward. Excellent.

So we walked through the pedestrian-only village and took in the sites. Restaurants, ski clothing stores, tourist shops–a multitude of places willing to separate you from your money.

We ignored all of that and headed straight for the Olympic rings and cauldron leftover from Vancouver’s hosting stint in 2010.

Cauldron and Olympic Rings from 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver

Then the clouds and rain rolled in and we took cover in a nearby brewhouse where we savored a drink by a crackling fire as the storm passed. It felt very “ski lodge” of us (minus the broken legs that would inevitably come with actual skiing, of course)!

After a lovely toasty lunch, we went to check out the rest of the Village.

Whistler Village

As we walked along, it was mainly deserted but when we did come upon people it was easy to tell the men from the boys.

We “boys” carried cameras and casually chatted as we took in the sites. The “men” were ruddy-faced from exertion, carrying skis or snowboards in hand as they headed to the next run. Kudos to them.

Whistler Mountain Run

After running into Faron and his family (small world, eh?) and chatting for a bit, Jeff and I then headed out of Whistler Village looking for a place to do what we do best…photograph and write! We will leave the skiing to the professionals.

Lake Alta

Not too far from Whistler village was Lake Alta, a beautiful lake with both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains as the backdrop. The lady at the visitors centre had told us about this photo op at Rainbow Park, and boy was she right. The park was empty for us, but I imagine it is a bustling hub during the summer.

The lake itself was clear as a bell, and glacially cold. Jeff and I breathed in the fresh air and silence and appreciated the stunning landscape. For me, this was by far the best view of Whistler [double-click the image to see the full panorama; Blackcomb to left, Whistler to right].

View from Lake Alta

In addition to Lake Alta, Green Lake was about a 10-minute drive north of Whistler on Highway 99. So named for its green, glacial waters, it too had a stunning backdrop of Whistler and Blackcomb. That said, you couldn’t see the vibrant green color for the clouds, hence the reason we haven’t shared pictures. I’m sure it’s gorgeous under sun though.

View of Tantalus Mountains

While the Sea to Sky highway is gorgeous, I will admit that many of its viewing platforms leave much to be desired. Most either have evergreens, or power lines, blocking an amazing view. Bummer.

The view to the Tantalus Mountains, however, was refreshingly unimpeded.


And before we knew it, we were back to Vancouver. What a lovely day! We hope you have enjoyed our day trip to Whistler. If you like to ski, definitely go visit!

8 Responses to A day trip to Whistler

  1. DSG

    Great post – You are turning into a comedian as well! 🙂

    • Jen

      Ha! I didn’t know I was being funny! 🙂 It is ironic though that an unathletic girl like myself visited Whistler, the athlete’s mecca!!!

  2. Nathan

    Love your story telling and spectacular waterfall pictures and Whistler Mountain. Tell Jeff I want his input on a camera and lenses before our trip to Iceland.


    • Jen

      Thanks! I am sure he will be happy to geek out on camera/lens lesson. You just say when! Safe travels in the Middle East. Can’t wait to hear about them!

  3. Linda Koloda

    Enjoying your visit with you – spectacular photos!!!

    • Jen

      Hello! Welcome to our blog! Glad you are enjoying traveling with us. We love to share!

  4. Anna

    Very nice pictures..Thanks.

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