Unwind outside in Canada’s top tourist destination this season

By Samantha Lego
@samanthalego

Stop and smell the mountain air in Whistler this June. Now that ski season is over and the summer surge hasn’t yet kicked off, it’s the perfect time to head up the Sea-to-Sky for an action-packed (cheap) outdoor weekend.

While Whistler is first and foremost, a ski resort, it is also a year-round adventure destination, which often makes it an expensive option for the average city-dweller looking to escape for the weekend.

Trending as the world’s second most destination on the rise by Trip Advisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice Awards and with unparalleled options for food, adventures and activities, visiting in June means you’ll be awarded the best outside action of every season. Experience the beauty without the crowds and find some stellar deals on accommodation along the way.

Winter Activities

With the amount of snow still in the mountains, skiing in June is not only feasible, but will probably still feel like it’s April. Dreams of shredding in a bikini? Get your goggle tan on as you tear down Horstman Glacier and experience the longest ski season Canada has to offer. In winter, Edge Card holders pay over $100 a day in winter whereas the June season will set you back a mere $50 for pass holders or $67 for daily lift tickets.

The glacier is reserved for intermediate riders only. So, if that’s not to your speed, swap your skis for snowshoes and take off into the alpine.

There are more than 50km of marked trails intersecting Blackcomb and Whistler mountains. Varying in difficulty from casual strolls to technical ascents, there’s something for every level. Trails at elevation will still be covered in snow, so proper footwear and gear will be necessary as weather can be unpredictable in the mountains at this time of year. For a list of some of the most popular Whistler hikes, check out this list.

Keep in mind, with higher than normal snow falls, some of the trails may not be open to the public. Only go into the backcountry if you have the proper experience and training. Nothing spoils a cheap weekend more than a multi-thousand dollar bill from North Shore Search and Rescue and an extreme loss of dignity.

Opt instead to lose yourself in the labyrinth of snow walls on Pika’s Traverse. The walls, which are carved out from the winter’s snowfall, only occur in late spring and early summer and are an easy alternative to the challenges of higher elevations.

Spring and Summer Activities

Other popular hikes like Garibaldi and Joffre may still have snow in the upper portions of their trails, but it is compact enough that it can be done in regular hiking boots. Beat the extreme crowds of summer at Joffre Lakes and experience the magic of seeing the lakes half-frozen. The spring weather means that the trails will be sun-drenched – and so will you. Beware of slush unknown and rent or buy a pair of gaiters to keep your legs dry and spirits high.

For those who are over winter, there are lots of activities to be done at lower altitudes. Shed some layers and soak up the sun around Whistler’s five local lakes. Canoes, kayaks and paddle boards can be rented in several places around the village.

Feeling adventurous? Paddle across Green Lake to access Parkhurst Ghost Town located at the north end of the lake. It’s only one of two hikes in Whistler valley where you don’t gain any elevation, making it accessible all year round. The old logging down was abandoned in the 1930s after the Great Depression and now houses rusted out machines, old beer bottles and graffiti.

Don’t forget to bring a camera to document the creepy, derelict buildings. Your Instagram followers will thank you.

Regardless of your skill or experience, Whistler’s outdoor activities are endless, ranging from completely free to ferociously expensive. But as the snow melts and the green pops through, the layers come off as people begin to enjoy the beauty of an alpine summer.

Before the crowds move in to enjoy this season’s golfing, mountain biking and festivals, Whistler becomes a much more affordable option as businesses gear up for the busy summer months.

Hotels you always wished you could stay in during high season offer discounted rates in low season. Unwind in fancy rooms without the fancy price. Accommodation like Crystal Lodge Hotel and Suites offers rooms oozing in mountain charm so you can relax after a day of frolicking outdoors. Find cheap, last-minute hotel deals here and maximize your savings.

It’s like residents say: Come for the skiing, stay for the lifestyle.

Samantha Lego is a recent deportee falling back in love with her home country. She enjoys poking fun at Vancouver stereotypes while ignoring the fact that she is one. You can usually find her drinking beer on weeknights (for science!) and laughing obnoxiously at her own bad puns. Read more of her writing here: samanthalego.com