Want to know about Whistler? Then our Whistler Basics is a great place to start! This page is aimed to help new and potential visitors to Whistler understand the core facts about Whistler and how our town operates.
Hopefully this page will help you with the early decision-making when planning a vacation in Whistler.
Firstly, know that Whistler is located in the coastal mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It is a couple of hours drive north of Vancouver, about one hour drive north of Squamish and 30 minutes drive south of Pemberton. Being in the coastal mountains means that winters are generally milder than the interior mountains. Conversely the summers are also a little less dry than the interior. This climate creates lush temperate rain forests and allows a variety of wildlife to thrive.
Most visitors will arrive from the South, so that is how I will describe the layout of Whistler.
The most southerly and first point of reference that lets you know you are in Whistler, is the Whistler RV Park. Beyond that, what I would consider to be the first real zone of Whistler, is Function Junction. There is a little bit accommodation in this area, but it is primarily known as an industrial area with warehouses and factories. Function Junction is however a hub for locally owned and operated businesses in Whistler, including some great eateries, shops, and activity providers.
Continue driving north of Function and you will pass several accommodation areas such as Bayshore’s, before you reach Creekside. Creekside is the first area that you reach, from where you can take a Gondola up the mountain in Winter. Creekside has a mixed bag of clientage, with accommodation ranging from cheap seasonal to luxury lake-side lodges. There are some real hidden gems in Creekside and either biking in summer or skiing in winter, from the Peak to Creekside is an incredible experience. On the southern side of Creekside you have Alpha lake, and northside Nita Lake. Both beautiful.
Keep heading North and Alta lake will come into view and accommodation areas such as Nordic and Blueberry will pass by. Eventually the first of two main entrances to the main zone, Whistler Village, will come into view. If you want to find the main parking lots the second of the Whistler Village entrances is the best one to take.
Whistler Village is the busiest area of Whistler, and is home to a plethora of shops, eateries, hotels and condos. The heart of Whistler village is the Village Stroll, which is a pedestrianized street leading from the Marketplace, past the Olympic Plaza, to the Village Square, and ending up at the Skiers Plaza. The Skiers Plaza is where Gondolas will take you up either Blackcomb or Whistler Mountain. The Fitzsimmons Chairlift is also great access to Whistler Mountain from the Skiers plaza, and in Summer is the main lift for the famous Whistler Bike Park. In summer the Gondolas are mainly for sightseeing and hiking access, in the Winter they take hoards of skiers and snowboarders to their paradise.
Village Gate Boulevard is a road that dissects Whistler Village. The Skiers Plaza and Village Square are the real focal points in Whistler Village and are to the South side of the Village Gate Boulevard. Consequently anything to the north of Village Gate Boulevard sometimes gets referred to as “Village North”.
The main car parks to which I referred earlier are located in-between Whistler Village and the Upper Village, which is also known as Blackcomb because it sits at the foot of Blackcomb Mountain. The Wizard and Magic chairlifts are alternate access points to Blackcomb Mountain and are both in the Upper Village. The Upper Village has a few shops and eateries, and ski rental stores. However it is distinct because of its many ski-in/ski-out accommodation options.
Many of the ski-in/ski-out accommodations in the higher elevations are in an Upper Village area known as the Benchlands. The Benchlands are also home to the main entrance to the popular Lost Lake. Lost Lake boasts a great cross-country bike park in the Summer and cross-country skiing in Winter. The Upper Village also has a pedestrianized stroll, home to a great market in summer.
If you go back to the highway and keep heading North you will pass Nester’s which is a little shopping complex. Also just north of Whistler Village is Spruce Grove which is home to another RV park and gorgeous spa.
Further North still is Alpine. Alpine is home to many season-long visitors, but also boasts some charming Lodges and Bed and Breakfasts. Alpine also boarders Green Lake and Wedge Park.
Any further North than Alpine is stretching the boundaries of what can really be considered Whistler, however the entrance to Cougar Mountain and an area called Emerald do sit on the northern boundaries of Whistler.
In terms of atmosphere and character, Whistler Village is definitely the busiest and more vibrant area. The Upper Village is a little more sedate and probably on par with Creekside in terms of how busy they are. Creekside feels more like a traditional North American mountain village, and has a locals feel. Alpine is a great place to stay if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy a forested setting.
We will cover the individual areas in more detail in separate articles, but hopefully for now, this page has given you a good insight into the layout and nature of Whistler.