North America’s #1 ski resort, Whistler Mountain is synonymous with snow sports, but few people outside of Canada know the resort gets more visitors in summer than in winter. When the snows have melted, hiking, wildlife viewing and water sports come to the fore in this seasonal playground. Here are five things you must try outside of the ski season.
Paddle the River of Golden Dreams
At twilight between June and August, the deliciously named River of Golden Dreams comes alive with everything from beavers to wild birds to Whistler's famous black bears. Twilight is one of the most beautiful times of the day for a serene float by canoe or kayak down the river, with the surrounding glacier-capped mountains glowing pink and crimson in the setting sun. Whistler was named after the noise made by the marmots that inhabit the mountain. If you listen carefully, in the warmer months you can hear their call.
Channel your inner Tarzan
If you’ve never been on a zip line before, Ziptrek Ecotours’ Bear Tour is perfect for first-time zippers. You’ll whizz over the valley between Whistler and Blackcomb, enjoying the spectacular views over Fitzsimmons Creek from the air. There are five zip lines joined by a network of suspension bridges, boardwalks and trails. Once you’ve mastered it, The Sasquatch is the highest, steepest, fastest, and longest zip line you'll ever try. From the take-off platform atop the mountain you'll plummet at speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour over the valley. There’s no time to be scared, it only lasts for a few minutes.
Get a bird’s eye view
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, enjoy the smell of cedars, hemlocks and fir trees and incredible views of the river valley below on the Tree Trek Canopy Walk. Accompanied by an experienced guide, this interpretative walk takes you from the forest floor to the upper reaches of the canopy following a series of aerial stairways, suspension bridges and observation platforms. Combine your tree trek with a ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which holds three Guinness World Records for being the highest and longest lift in the world, and offers magical views from the top of the mountains.
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Haute cuisine at high altitude
All that activity is sure to work up an appetite, and dining in Whistler can be overwhelming, there are so many great choices. Whistler Tasting Tours take care of that with its Finer Things Dinner Tour, a progressive walking tour that covers four different courses at four award-winning Whistler restaurants. Included is a visit to an impressive 15,000-bottle wine cellar where you can learn the old Napoleonic tradition of sabering open a bottle of champagne with a sword. Finish the evening with a piece of hand-made fudge from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and an artisan cheese plate paired with Canadian ice wine.
Play a round of mountain golf
Without any snow around, summer is the best time for a round on one of Whistler’s four signature golf courses, designed by legendary golfers like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. At Fairmont Chateau Whistler you can experience mountain golf at its best with a round on the hotel’s Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed award-winning course carved into the flank of Blackcomb Mountain. A short distance from the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler are the 18-hole Nicklaus North Golf Course and the Arnold Palmer designed Whistler Golf Club. The Four Seasons Resort can also arrange glacier golf in summer, flying by helicopter to an exclusive location where you’ll tee off into the sky with bio-degradable golf balls.