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Whistler or Bust


Located just over an hour drive north of Vancouver lies the mountain-based village of whistler, home to some of the best outdoor sports BC has on offer. Popular during winter and a perfect getaway during summer, Whistler has more to offer than just snowboarding, we spent a few days in the mountains to see what the hype is all about.

Starting off in Vancouver, we head to North Vancouver to pick up our rental car through National. Its pouring with rain which is Vancouver showing its true colors. We arrive at the car hire with our luggage only to find out we need a credit card to finish the rental agreement, which neither of us had on us personally. One-hour bus ride later and we arrived back with a credit card and finally get our car, we get on the main road and follow the signs for Whistler.

Following the Sea to Sky Highway usually shows some nice sights to make the ride enjoyable, rain and fog cover all the landmarks and various mountains so I just focus on the road. Towards the end of the drive we see a sign for Brandywine Falls, the fog has cleared so we decide to pull over and check it out. A short walk down a trail and over a trainline you will end up at the falls. The name Brandywine is supposed to have come from a wager between two surveyors (Jack Nelson and Bob Mollison) over the height of the falls. The falls are approximately 70m and are beautiful to experience, although you cannot get close to the fall, you can still be mind blown from a distance.

We continue for the last 20 minutes and arrive at the village of Whistler; the setting reminds us of Twin Peaks and almost frozen in a 90’s decade its unique and easing. Driving around the village, the wood architecture really sets the tone for Whistler, everyone is equipped with snow jackets and boots. Settling into our cabin for the night, temperatures are cold for October and the fire is on high, we call it a day.

The next day we explore Whistler village, its cold. Although the village itself is not very big there is everything you need from supermarkets, clothing stores and bars. We stop off at EL Furniture Warehouse, for some food and a beer. I’m a huge fan of “dive bars” and EL furniture warehouse certainly does not disappoint, the interior is just plastered with markings and half stuck on stickers. Food is incredibly cheap here with all meals priced at $5.95, perfect for those on a budget. A veggie burger and pesto grilled cheese is ordered with alcohol, the portion sizes are enough and the staff very attentive. Be sure to check out the washrooms as they are a germaphobes delight.

Just a 20-minute walk from the village lies Lost Lake, a short trek through bear infested woods will bring you to the lake. It’s quiet, still and the clouds are dark but we venture around the lake to find a jetty out in the middle of the lake accessible for the public. The jetty serves as a perfect picture moment or a seat for those wanting some silence in their day. The rain finally kicks in at this moment so after a few quick photos we head back to the cabin.

Snow is a rarity we have experienced in our lives, either we live to close to the coast for it to stick or come from the velvet coasts of Australia. Snow falls for the first time of the season today in Whistler and it falls hard, we attempt a drive out to explore, but, the conditions are just too risky so we wait it out for a while. After several hours we explore some abandoned train carriages near the Olympic Village a short drive from Whistler.

Pulling into a side lane we clearly see the signs to find the carriages, a 30-minute walk later we are greeted by a suspension bridge over a rapid. Once crossed we discover the carriages, the atmosphere is tense and haunting as the graffiti covered metal boxes just lie eroding. Exploring them is fun and something every person visiting Whistler should experience, abandoned since the 1950’s they have only now become known to visitors, being a local’s only secret. Highlight of the trail was most definitely being mistaken for a bear by another Brit, her scream still haunts my dreams.

It is advisable to hire a car when travelling to Whistler, sure the coach may be fun but a car gives you more freedom. Heading further North from the village is Joffre lake, located 35km east of Pemberton, it was established in 1988 and consists of 3 glacier lakes. The drive takes roughly an hour but the scenic drive itself is mesmerizing. The snow had stuck to the mountains which created the perfect backdrop to the drive itself, drive up the mountain and your find the entrance on the right. The landmark does get busy so arrive early and parking is still free. The first lake is located just a short walk from the car park, if its snowy don’t forget to bring your boots as the path and car park can be icy and slippery. The first lake is simply breathtaking and really shows the wonders that Canada has on offer, the viewing platform is small but certainly worth the wait.

Today is the last day as we head back to Vancouver, blue sky fills the horizon as we pack the car and leave Whistler, heading south on the highway. Just past Squamish is Shannon Falls, which is the 3rd highest waterfall in British Columbia. This waterfall is the perfect trip starter or finisher as it is easily accessible, parking is limit and it is a popular spot so again arrive early. The waterfall itself is quite unique to the waterfalls we have seen around the world, it is high upon the mountain side and the sound of the water crashing is roaring.

We arrive back in Vancouver; however, I wish I stayed longer in Whistler as I feel I only scratched the surface of what lies there. It is definitely worth checking out and maybe more than once, I can see why some many people on working visas head to the slopes for work. The peace and quiet of a few days rest is interrupted when we try to catch the bus with our luggage back to our apartment, till next time Whistler.

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