5. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Two side-by-side ski giants rise from a lush and lake-dotted valley, climbing high past tree line into a sprawling alpine arena of glaciers, crags, and awe. This is where 8,100-plus seamlessly connected acres offer weeks of intermediate cruising, expansive kid zones, the continent’s largest serving of true expert terrain, and a whole separate universe of tree skiing.
Expect big snowfall—over 450 inches annually—easy-to-manage altitude, and variable temperatures that deliver mixed blessings. At the base, the little ski city of Whistler and its car-free center buzz and hum with internationalism, vitality, and a nonstop spirit of fun. Both mountain and town are booming, with the last several seasons bringing billions in upgrades from Whistler Blackcomb’s parent Vail Resorts, the town’s big hotels, independent businesses, and the municipality itself.
The not so good? Prices have risen dramatically, particularly for lodging and lift tickets—although the favorable exchange rate and an Epic Pass dulls the sting. But with more than three million annual visitors from around the globe plus the weekend surge from Vancouver and Seattle, nothing is slowing this meteor down.
No. 5 in the West: Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Stats
Whistler Blackcomb Pass Info
Whistler Blackcomb, B.C. is on the Epic Pass. Epic Pass holders get unlimited access with no blackout dates.
Find out SKI editors’ favorite hotels, restaurants, bars, and activities on the slopes and in the villages at Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
The Creekside Gondola, a main conduit from the Blackcomb base area, goes from a six-passenger to a 10-passenger ride this winter, an upgrade that will increase capacity out of the base by 35 percent and decrease wait times. Additionally, the Big Red Express, a main mid-mountain feeder lift, gets an upgrade to a high-speed six-seater from a high-speed quad.
The resort is partnering with Helly Hansen to bring women’s specific ski camps to the slopes this season. The two-day clinics will be honed to meet each participant’s skills and goals, and all levels of skiers are welcome.
After a couple seasons of limited menu options at the resort’s quick-serve dining outlets, more diverse and healthier cuisine, such as ramen, grain bowls, and Thai and curry dishes, will be added to the offerings.
The resort operates on Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation land. Visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center to learn more about the people who’ve inhabited the land way before skiing was a past time.
Ride the Peak Express to West Cirque, a double black with a dauntingly rocky entrance that gives way to a steep pitch. Not quite up for that? Detour to Peak to Creek, a 5,000- vertical-foot descent over nearly seven miles.
Swing by the Crystal Hut on the Blackcomb side for legendary buttermilk waffles served hot and crispy.
The best entertainment these days is outside, and you can switch it up from the resort by sliding the Valley Trail instead. Departing right from town, a portion of the 25-mile paved path is groomed for Nordic skiing in the winter.
Visit the Audain Art Museum for cutting-edge West Coast architecture and a definitive showcase of B.C. art dating back to the 18th century.
Downtown Whistler’s Sushi Village taps Pacific roots to serve the best Japanese food of any Canadian ski town.
Corner Pocket on Whistler Mountain.
We’re partial to Alpina by Basalt, Bar Oso, or Mallard for cocktails and chef-styled snacks.
Test your limits in Saudan Couloir on Blackcomb or Harmony Horseshoes on Whistler. Then hike up and over Blackcomb’s Spanky’s Ladder to the serious expert terrain of the Gemstone Bowls. Go with a guide if it’s your first time.
The Dirty Bowl or a bacon-maple doughnut at Portobello.
Whistler Mountain’s year-round Peak Suspension Bridge hovers in thin air over the heights of Whistler Bowl, spanning one-tenth of a mile and proffering 360-degree views.
Whistler Blackcomb’s website
Whistler/Blackcomb Ski & Snowboard School
Jolly Green Giants
From the Top: A Golden Group
From the Top
Party Hard and Safe
Unbeatable Bargains: Canada
Best of 2001 – Best Party