Year-Round Adventures in Whistler

About a 2-hour drive from Vancouver, British Columbia, Whistler was home to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Though the elevation and rugged mountain terrain make it an ideal setting for winter sports, this village nestled in the Canadian Rockies is so much more than a ski town: It’s also a mountain biking, paddleboarding and yoga hot spot. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-packed getaway or a relaxing spa trip, plan your perfect vacation with these 10 outdoor adventures in Whistler.

1. Detox in Swedish Spas

Tourism Whistler / Chad Chomlack
For the ultimate R & R, check out Scandinave Spa, a 20,000-square-foot outdoor space spread across 3 woodsy acres and set on the edge of Whistler’s famous Lost Lake. Try some hydrotherapy courtesy of the Scandinavian baths, which include a eucalyptus steam treatment, wood-burning Finnish sauna and outdoor thermal waterfalls that boost circulation and release toxins. The spa also offers massages to ease sore muscles from all those outdoor adventures you’re sure to have in Whistler.

2. Hike Into a World of Wildflowers

Tourism Whistler / Paul Morrison
Hundreds of trails crisscross Whistler’s alpine meadows, old-growth forests and glacial-covered peaks. Start your trek from the village itself or take a gondola to the beginning of the Overlord Trail, a challenging ridge climb that takes about 4 1/2 hours to complete.

3. Paddleboard Across Glacial Lakes

Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
Paddle your way along the brilliantly blue Alpha Lake. Get stand-up paddleboarding lessons and rental equipment through REO Rafting Whistler, and then chill out on the beach with a barbecue afterward.

4. Fuel Your Adrenaline With Mountain Biking

Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
Mountain biking is as popular as skiing and boarding in Whistler, thanks to the lift-serviced pathways that offer riders 5,000 feet of vertical trails. Wednesdays in the summer are all-female drop-in nights: The ladies can grab drinks and enter to win prizes post-ride at the mountaintop bar, the Garibaldi Lift Co. (Whistler is kind of famous for its après, of finishing off a day on the mountain with drinks and a hearty meal). Another bonus: If you’re a devoted rider -- or if you just want to see the world’s top free-ride athletes compete with gravity-defying displays -- don’t miss the 10-day Crankworx festival.

5. Perfect Your Downward Dog

Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
Whistler’s stunning natural setting and fresh mountain air have attracted yogis from around the world to the annual Whistler Yoga Conference. That’s not Whistler’s only event for yoga lovers. In 2012, the town was home to the first-ever international Wanderlust Festival, which combines live music concerts with daily yoga classes, hiking, organic food and wine, and inspirational speakers such as Deepak Chopra, all set in Whistler’s great outdoors.

6. See the Sights With a Gondola Ride

Tourism Whistler / Steve Rogers
The new Peak 2 Peak Gondola connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. It’s not only the highest lift in the world, with an elevation of 1,427 feet, but also the longest unsupported lift span on the planet. Wait for one of the silver, glass-bottom rides for an even more spectacular view of Whistler’s peaks and glaciers -- and possibly some grizzlies!

7. Find Virgin Powder With Heliskiing

Whistler Heli-Skiing / Neil Brown
Whistler has the longest ski season in North America, running from November to July. Skiing ops span 8,171 acres of terrain and 38 lifts. All of which explains why Whistler attracts all levels of skiers and snowboarders. To really explore the powdery backcountry, sign up for a heliskiing adventure with a certified guide . A helicopter transports you into the wilderness so you can carve out your own trail in virgin powder. Heliskiing season runs from Dec. 1 to April 21.

8. Snowshoe Through a Winter Wonderland

Tourism Whistler / Toshi Kawano
Averaging more than 33 feet of snow a year, Whistler is home to stunning powder bowls and glacial lakes that can be explored on foot. Whistler Olympic Park has more than 43 miles of groomed trails, or you can shoe your way over to Lost Lake, on the edge of town, to traverse the almost 20-mile trail network. Crunching through fresh-fallen snow and old-growth forests can be one of the ultimate Zen-like experiences for an outdoors lover.

9. Go for a Snowmobile Ride With a Foodie Twist

Sign up for the Mountaintop Fondue Tour and ride a snowmobile (or “sled,” as the locals like to call ’em) above the village to Blackcomb Mountain, at 6,000 feet. The 4-hour tour includes a candlelit fondue dinner, with wine and entertainment from local musicians.

10. Soar Through the Treetops with Ziplining

Tourism Whistler / Chad Chomlack

Watch bears from the safety of above as you zip through treetops secured snugly in a harness. Thrill seekers will love flying between ancient cedars and over rushing whitewater. A year-round  activity at Whistler, it's an experience that is completely different depending on the season.

11. Where to Stay:

Tourism Whistler
If it’s convenience you’re after, this ski-in, ski-out resort has everything you’d want: a holistic spa; health club with saunas, hot tubs and a heated outdoor lap pool with underwater music; plenty of on-site dining and bar options; and even a wedding chapel and on-site golf course. Rooms start around $199 a night.

12. Where to Stay:

Nita Lake Lodge
This luxurious boutique hotel on the water features 3 organic restaurants, a spa that offers ayurvedic treatments, and a winding valley trail just outside its door for easy access to hiking. Rates start around $169 a night.

13. Where to Stay:

If you’re traveling to Whistler with a group, getting a condo with a full kitchen might be your best bet, especially for saving money and keeping your crew together. This lodge is ski-in, ski-out; a 5-minute drive from the main Whistler Village; and offers 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom suites. Convenient amenities include barbecues, playpens and a games room. A 1-bedroom could cost as little as $168 in the off-season.

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