Last updated: 13 November 2020
Winter In Whistler – The Journey
The drive to Whistler is iconic and a bucket list item for many. As you make your way along the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Route 99), you’ll enjoy incredible views of some of our most famous landmarks – Howe Sound, the Tantalus Range, and Black Tusk, to name a few. But it’s important to be prepared.
From October, snow tires or chains are a must. Conditions can change rapidly in the mountains and it’s best to be prepared. Check the Drive BC website or Twitter feed for the latest road report this winter in Whistler, or tune in to local radio station Mountain FM for alerts as they happen.
Once you’ve arrived into Whistler, you may be left wondering where the best places to park are. Your accommodation likely has onsite parking (expect to pay anywhere from $15 – $45 per night). When exploring around town, we find the best places to park are as follows:
Day lots 4 & 5 are free Sep 16th to Dec 14th and Apr 16th to Jul 1st. The day lots are also free after 5:00 pm throughout winter in Whistler. View the municipal website for latest rates and restrictions.
For accessing the mountain, we like to park in Creekside. There’s a free, underground lot, which is a stone’s throw from the Gondola.
The Ski Experience
COVID-19 means that the ski experience will look slightly different for the 2020/21 season. Firstly, lift tickets will not be available for purchase at the ticket window this season. Whistler Blackcomb will require guests to purchase online or by phone before traveling to Whistler or coming to the ticket window.
Secondly, all pass holders (with the exception of WB employees) will be required to make a reservation to upload Whistler Blackcomb.
Check out our post to learn more about Whistler Lift Passes and How The 2020-21 Season Looks.
It is anticipated that private/small group lessons will be available for purchase with Whistler Blackcomb, and ski shops and rentals are anticipated to be open and following safety protocol.
Winter In Whistler – The Weather
Our winters typically draw millions of visitors to the resort, and while that may not be the case for the 2020/21 season, the snow promises to be epic. Experts predict a La Niña weather pattern, which is characterised by colder than normal waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
This has different effects on the weather depending on where you are in the world, but for western Canada, La Niña means increased precipitation and colder temperatures, and up here in Whistler that means snow.
Read more about La Niña via the Tourism Whistler blog. Things that we recommend you packing to enjoy winter in Whistler:
- GORE-TEX® (or equivalent garment technologies)
- Long underwear, mid-layers, and outer layers
- Lip Balm and Sunscreen
Check out our post to read more about Things You Should Be Packing For A Winter Trip To Whistler.
Hotels In Whistler – How Has COVID Affected Them?
At the time of writing this post, hotels are open for winter in Whistler. COVID-19 has brought challenging times for everyone and hotels have adapted their operations to reflect this. Cleanliness is absolutely a priority, physical distancing is an expectation, and cancellation policies have adapted for added peace of mind.
Some of things that we recommend you checking/confirming with the hotel before booking:
- Are there any alterations to the service that you expect? (housekeeping, pools, etc.)
- What protocol is in place to mitigate risk?
- Are masks mandatory in the hotel?
- Check the status of restaurants/bars/spas that may be on the property
It’s also important that you’re aware of federal, provincial, and municipal advisories/restrictions before you travel.
‘Be respectful of communities you plan to visit and be prepared to practice the same public health guidance and precautions away, as you would at home’ (source: BCCDC.ca)
Winter In Whistler – Things To Do
Many visitors choose Whistler for snow sports. Whistler Blackcomb is the primary hub of activity with Whistler Olympic Park and Lost Lake Park popular spots too. But it’s not all about skiing and snowboarding.
It’s worth highlighting that there’s so much more to do during winter in Whistler besides hunting for pow or dropping into couloirs. Check out our post on Five Great Whistler Experiences For Non-Skiers. One of the activities we cover is axe throwing – a great way to spend an afternoon with your close circle!
Does It Get Busy In Winter In Whistler?
Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest ski resort and as such it draws a large crowd of snow-seekers each year. Things can sometimes get busy, however there are ways to avoid the crowds:
2020/21 will differ from previous years (as we touched on above). It is expected that physical distancing can be managed on the mountain thanks to Vail’s new reservation system, but we are yet to learn what that will look like in the lift queues/maze. To avoid busy periods, consider delaying your upload by an hour or so. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and head to the lifts around 9:30 am. The alternative would be to rise with the sun and aim to be one of the first in line (lifts typically begin to roll around 8:30 am. Follow @wbmtnops on Twitter for (almost) real time mountain operations this winter in Whistler.
Again, new protocol introduced in 2020 means fewer faces, bigger spaces. Restaurants and bars have limited capacities and so we would recommend double-checking operational restrictions ahead of time and reserving a table where possible. For an overview of dining operations in the resort, please visit Tourism Whistler’s Doors Open Directory of Restaurants, Pubs, Cafes & Nightlife.
Winter In Whistler – Find Time To Relax
Enjoy some serious downtime this winter in Whistler with a visit to one of our spas or wellness facilities.
Top of many visitors’ itineraries is the very popular Scandinave Spa. You can enjoy a massage here but it’s the baths that really draw the crowds. Their Scandinavian-inspired hot-cold-relax hydrotherapy is promoted for it’s relaxing and rejuvenating effect on body and mind, and the surroundings are sheer serenity. Note: At the time of posting this article, the baths are advising visitors to expect a waitlist to access the baths.
The Spa At Nita Lake Lodge
Voted #1 Spa In Whistler For Beauty & Esthetics, The Spa At Nita Lake Lodge delivers a transcendent wellness experience. The tranquil lakeside setting has always been a retreat from the everyday, but now more than ever we’re here to bring you the transcendent wellness experience you’re craving. COVID protocol is in place to keep you, employees, and the community safe and ‘genuine wellbeing’ continues to be at the heart of everything that they do.
As well as being our favourite spot to practice, Yogacara Whistler also offer 60-minute Reiki sessions and full-body Thai massage. Their space is serene (and very clean!) and while they’re currently closed until November 23, we can recommend them once they open! If you prefer to join them online, that’s possible too! It’s the perfect place to unwind this winter in Whistler.
Getting Festive In Whistler
The holiday experience in Whistler is pure mountain magic. The snowy landscape, twinkling lights, and festive cheer are sure to make the grinchiest of Grinch feel the warm and fuzzies. But what specifically is there to do for the ultimate holiday experience in Whistler? We asked some of the Nita team to share their go-to activities.